In Saturday's Division II state championship, Ironwood Ridge center Drew Yaglowski will line up opposite Peoria Centennial nose tackle Eliseo Ramos, who will have 35 pounds and 4 inches on Yaglowski.

The 5-foot-7-inch 205-pound Yaglowski will be at a clear disadvantage, just like he was when the Nighthawks beat Centennial 28-24 in the regular season.

He'll just make up for it elsewhere, again.

"It was just being in the right position," Yaglowski said. "I think technique won that game more than anything because they were obviously just as fast in some cases and definitely bigger."

Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson said Yaglowski is an "intelligent and intense player." First-year offensive line coach Anthony Coronado, a big "Star Wars" fan, calls Yaglowski the "Angry Ewok" because of his size and style of play.

"He doesn't look like the center on a team that's playing for state championship, but he is so key to our team," Coronado said.

Here's a look at how Yaglowski has gotten the job done as the Nighthawks prepare for their first ever state championship appearance:


The lowdown: Yaglowski is in his first season as a center, but he's been an offensive lineman dating back to youth football. Johnson said he'd be willing to put him at tight end or linebacker because he has the athleticism, which gives him the edge at center.

Quotable: "A lot of coaches are fixated on size but we're more focused on athleticism as a program. I'm going to put athletes on the field not unathletic kids that are just big out there." - Johnson


The lowdown: His height is a blessing and a curse, Yaglowski said. When everyone lined up against him is taller, he has a hard time seeing over them, which makes it challenging to pick up blitzes. However, being lower to the ground and being able to get under his opponent's pads can make him tough to deal with.

Quotable: "He's a strong kid, and it's going to be hard to find anyone that can get lower than him. He can get underneath kids, and that's big for O-linemen. You always preach the low man wins." - Coronado


The lowdown: Yaglowski's younger brother, James, plays cornerback for the freshman football team at Ironwood Ridge. So quickness runs in the family. That gives Drew an edge against bigger opponents like it did in the first game against Centennial.

Quotable: "My ability to be quick off the ball has to be probably the biggest advantage, being able to catch guys off guard with that." -Yaglowski

Intelligence and technique

The lowdown: Johnson and Coronado both think Yaglowski's football smarts and footwork are two of his biggest advantages.

Quotable: "We can't control how the other team lines up and the blitzes they're going to run, and having a highly intelligent center who plays with great technique really helps us against all their various looks." -Johnson


The lowdown: Yaglowski said being smaller and lighter makes it easier for opponents to push him around, and that is his biggest disadvantage. Also, while he is strong for his size, he can't bulk up as much as other players. He said his shoulders are probably his strongest muscle, and he can squat 350 pounds.

Quotable: "He's done what he's had to do. He's taken his disadvantages and worked with them to figure out how to get it done." -Coronado

Division II championship

• What: Ironwood Ridge vs. Peoria Centennial

• Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday