Through Aug. 23, the Star will count down the top 10 football players from each major Southern Arizona high school program:

School: Ironwood Ridge

The best: Jake Fischer

Achievements: Fischer didn't waste any time in helping Ironwood Ridge turn into a football powerhouse.

He was a four-year varsity starter and a three-time first-team All-Southern Arizona linebacker before he went on to start at the UA. Although he is best remembered for his defensive work after setting the Nighthawks' single-season and career records for tackles with 133 and 464, respectively, Fischer's first start came at running back in the first game of his freshman year, a 51-7 win over Flowing Wells. He rushed 16 times for 87 yards including a 25-yard touchdown and caught three passes for 16 yards. He started at linebacker two games later and held on to that role for the rest of his career and also started at running back in his junior and senior years.

From the archives: "We are strong particularly at our skill positions. Jake Fischer was our leading tackler as a freshman last year at linebacker and very quick with great football skills. We look to him to be the real standout for us on defense." -former I-Ridge coach Gary Minor in the Aug. 20, 2006, Arizona Daily Star.

The big number: 228. After missing two games with an injury, Fischer amassed 228 yards rushing and scored twice on 25 carries in a 24-17 win over Sunnyside in the 5A-II state quarterfinals as a senior. He also had a season-high 13 tackles to help the Nighthawks reach the state semifinals for the first time.