When Ironwood Ridge beat Tempe Marcos de Niza in the Division II semifinals, it accomplished a program first by advancing to the state championship football game.
Fast forward to this Saturday when the Nighthawks face Peoria Centennial and try to accomplish a feat not done by a Southern Arizona school for nearly a decade: go to the Phoenix area and beat a Phoenix-area school for the state title.
The last team to beat a Phoenix-area school for the crown was the 2003 Sunnyside squad, which beat Glendale Cactus in Tempe.
Canyon del Oro beat Sabino in 2009 to win a title and Palo Verde topped Cottonwood Mingus in 2005.
Saturday will mark the eighth straight year a Southern Arizona team has played for a big-school title.
Before the Nighthawks try to make history, the Star looks back at the last five.
Result: Scottsdale Chaparral 37, Cienega 14 at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe
The star: Chaparral's Davonte' Neal, now at Notre Dame, had 327 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in the win.
From the archive: Cienega suffered its only loss of the season, falling to Scottsdale Chaparral 37-14 in the Division II state championship game at Sun Devil Stadium.
"Our kids have nothing to be ashamed about," Cienega coach Nemer Hassey said. "We didn't come here to get second place, but I think it's still something to be proud of."
Result: Scottsdale Saguaro 41, Canyon del Oro 34 at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe
The star: Current Arizona State freshman D.J. Foster rushed for 124 yards on just 12 carries and added 46 receiving yards. He also had five tackles on defense.
From the archive: The Dorados (13-1) had one final chance to tie it after Saguaro's go-ahead touchdown, but quarterback Jason McBrayer's fourth-down pass to Blake Martinez was caught out of bounds. "Just taking that first loss and taking it in the state championship game, it's the hardest thing ever," McBrayer said.
Result: Glendale Cactus 14, Santa Rita 0 at Arizona Stadium
The star: Cactus' Brody Ray had 132 rushing yards on just six carries and added 33 passing yards and a touchdown pass.
From the archive: As the game came to a close and Cactus fans filled Arizona Stadium with cheers, a dejected Santa Rita team walked off the field having accumulated 10 rushing yards, 160 through the air and not a single point. Cactus won the 4A-II state championship game 14-0.
"I don't know what to say," Santa Rita quarterback Ian Garlets said. "The only thing I know is we just didn't play our football game. They wanted it more than we did, and they deserve to win it."
Result: Scottsdale Notre Dame 30, Santa Rita 26 at Sun Devil Stadium
The star: Andrew Stutz, now at Stanford, rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
From the archive: "I am kind of surprised it took (Notre Dame) so long to figure out that they were a hundred pounds per man bigger than us," Santa Rita coach Jeff Scurran said. "They are huge. But we stood in there toe to toe."
Result: Scottsdale Saguaro 23, Canyon del Oro 21 at University of Phoenix Stadium
The star: Quarterback Tim Ruben accounted for 219 yards of total offense and a touchdown in the win.
From the archive: "We were six seconds away from being state champions," CDO coach Pat Nugent said. "We needed one more play, and we would have been state champions."
The Big Game
Southern Arizona in recent state championship games
• 2011: Scottsdale Chaparral 37, Cienega 14
• 2010: Scottsdale Saguaro 41, Canyon del Oro 34
• 2009: Canyon del Oro 40, Sabino 0
• 2009: Glendale Cactus 14, Santa Rita 0
• 2008: Scottsdale Notre Dame 30, Santa Rita 26
• 2007: Scottsdale Saguaro 23, Canyon del Oro 21
• 2006: Scottsdale Saguaro 41, Sabino 21
• 2005: Palo Verde 15, Cottonwood Mingus 7
• 2005: Glendale Cactus 30, Sabino 7
• 2003: Sunnyside 21, Glendale Cactus 13
• 2001: Sunnyside 28, Phoenix Greenway 6