Last season couldn’t have gone differently for Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge, two fierce rivals separated by only a few miles.
I-Ridge rolled CDO 36-0 to open the season, beating the Dorados for the second year in a row. Any questions that the Nighthawks were the new kings of Oro Valley were answered when they went 13-1 and captured the Division II state title.
Meanwhile, CDO started the season 0-4 and eventually finished 4-6, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Just when it looked like the rivalry might be losing its intensity, the Dorados proved it wasn’t.
“We’re not the same team,” said Dusty Peace, CDO’s fourth-year coach. “Last year is long gone in my mind. I don’t even want to think about last year because it was a bad year for a lot of reasons.”
CDO, now in Division III, is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2010. Peace wants to make sure his squad keeps the momentum rolling when it hosts Division II Ironwood Ridge (2-1) tonight at 7.
“It’s a great opportunity we have at this point in the season to be 2-0 and have a chance to play the state champs from last year, a great football team, and see how we can respond and live up to that talent,” Peace said. “It’s a true test for us in all those matters on top of them being right down the street.”
For those counting, I-Ridge holds a 4-3 advantage in the series. The teams have split the last four meetings, which have all been season-opening games. Peace said that makes a difference in preparing because there is no longer that factor of uncertainty.
CDO seniors J.J. Metz and John Jackson were among those on the team last year, who dealt with the blowout loss to the Nighthawks and someone burning “I.R.H.S.” on their field the night before the game.
Both have a bigger goal: Turning CDO back into a state power.
Metz, who combined for 199 yards rushing and receiving and two touchdowns last week, said it’d be great to beat I-Ridge, which suffered its first loss of the season last week at Glendale Apollo, but it would just be another step along the way in getting the Dorados back to state.
“I want us to be confident in how we play and I want us to continue to play the way we’ve been over the last two weeks, which is good football,” Peace said.
Jackson, one of the top defensive ends in Southern Arizona, said the team’s attitude is one of the biggest differences this year. Like Metz, he said tonight is just another game — though he admitted a win would be big.
“I feel like last year we weren’t the aggressor,” Jackson said. “We weren’t aggressive at all, we kind of just sat there and just bowed down and got dominated.
“Now I feel like we’re a more aggressive team and we want it; we’re hungry. It’ll be a very aggressive game.”
Salpointe’s Quihuis continues to dominate
Salpointe Catholic senior golfer and UA verbal commit Krystal Quihuis has been on top of her game so far this year. The two-time defending individual state champion shot an impressive 3-under 69 in the second day of play at last weekend’s Antigua National Invitational in Scottsdale. Quihuis, who shot a 76 in the first day, finished third overall, three strokes back.
The tournament drew 18 schools from seven different states.
I-Ridge volleyball team takes 3rd in San Diego
The Ironwood Ridge girls volleyball team finished third at the San Diego Fall Classic last weekend after losing in the semifinals to the eventual champion, Santee (Calif.) West Hills. The Nighthawks went 6-2 in the event, which featured more than 30 teams. On Tuesday, in their first match since returning, they beat Rincon/University, one of the area’s tougher teams, in straight sets. Look out.
White hot for Jaguars
If his first two games are a sign of what’s to come, get familiar with Desert View senior running back Jarratt White. He rushed for a school-record 305 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in Week 1 and followed that up with a 235-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 42-39 loss at Gilbert Higley. Based on stats entered on Maxpreps, White is the No. 2 leading rusher in the state right now with 540 yards.
The Jaguars (0-2) host Yuma Kofa tonight.