Ironwood Ridge running back Anthony Braunreiter isn't especially tall or big, but he scores high marks in smarts, effort and strength.


Ironwood Ridge running back Anthony Braunreiter doesn't pass the eye test.

The senior stands just 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. He doesn't have breakaway speed or eye-popping athleticism.

But Braunreiter has one of the state's more impressive stat lines at running back. He has averaged more than 115 yards per game and has scored 21 touchdowns in his first full season as the featured back for the Nighthawks, who take on Tempe Marcos de Niza on Friday in a Division II semifinal.

"Ever since we saw him as a freshman, we knew he was a real tough, hard runner," I-Ridge coach Matt Johnson said. "I like it because he doesn't like to juke or anything. He keeps it real simple and does a great job."

Braunreiter started at linebacker as a sophomore and served as a blocking back for Mitch Fischer as a junior. He said the last two years helped get him up to speed with playing on varsity, but this season has been his favorite.

"I'm not going to lie," said Braunreiter, who has played tackle football since he was 6 years old. "I like running the ball."

Johnson called Braunreiter "a coach's dream" because of his makeup on the field. Here's a look at what makes Braunreiter so dangerous with the ball in his hands:


Braunreiter knows he's not going to wow anyone with his athleticism, and trying to outmaneuver defenders typically won't end well.

But he's smart enough to use his frame for what it's built for - getting leverage on would-be tacklers and making them feel every tackle they make.

"He's a real smart kid," Johnson said. "He's extremely intelligent, so he doesn't do the wrong thing very often."


There's only one thing that every player can control on every play - how hard he tries.

Braunreiter takes that to heart.

"It's all just effort on every play," Braunreiter said. "You never know what can happen, so you've just gotta go hard every play."

That mentality has helped Braunreiter explode from an undersized do-it-all type player to a workhorse for one of the top offenses in Arizona.

"He gets the most out of his body that anybody could ask for," Johnson said.

Braunreiter said I-Ridge's coaching staff has done a good job stressing how important effort is on each play. But it ultimately comes down to the player.

"I just do the best I can every time I touch the ball," Braunreiter said. "It's all about the team. I don't mind blocking. I just run hard."


Braunreiter gets the most out of his stocky frame, thanks in large part to his dedication to offseason training.

Braunreiter doesn't play any other sports, something that lets him do football-specific training year-round. Johnson said he hasn't missed a day of training or practice his three years on the varsity team, something that's led to him being an extremely physical runner.

"I've been impressed with the number of times he's broken tackles," Johnson said. "He's just one of the running backs you think of when you think of '70s and '80s football. Just puts his head down and goes."

A workhorse

Ironwood Ridge running back Anthony Braunreiter, left, has carried the load well for the Nighthawks in 2012:


Carries, sixth in Southern Arizona


Rushing yards, sixth in Southern Arizona


Touchdowns, tied for fourth in Southern Arizona