5A Division-II Semi-final - Ironwood Ridge vs. Peoria Centennial

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The game of the week features the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks against their toughest opponent to date in the Peoria Centennial Coyotes.  The Nighthawks have proven their mettle time and time again this season, but this Friday they venture into unknown territory making their first-ever appearance in the semi-finals of the state playoffs.  This is also the first season Gary Minor's program has reached the 10-win plateau.  Even though they have not made it this deep in the playoffs before, Ironwood Ridge is no stranger to the post-season.  They have gone to the playoffs every year since 2003, and this is the second consecutive season they are the #4 seed.  Their opponent, on the other hand, has been the epitome of football success in recent years. 

Centennial is going for their 3rd straight 5A Division-II State Championship and the Coyotes are comfortable holding on to the top-seed in the state.  The Coyotes have held the #1 seed in 4 of the last 5 years; which means they get everyone's best effort each time they step on the field.  They are 62-5 (inclu. playoffs) dating back to 2004 with the aforementioned championships, a runner-up finish in 2005, and two undefeated seasons (2006, 2008).  On paper it seems the Nighthawks have quite the daunting task, but the most important factor is that numbers and history do not play the game.  As long as the players show up with helmets snapped on and shoulder pads strapped up, I'm sure coach Minor will have his guys ready to do battle in what looks to be a classic reminder of David vs. Goliath.  

Note…   Saturday the Santa Rita Eagles look to earn their first state championship when they take on the Saints of Notre Dame Preparatory at 11am in Tempe (Sun Devil Stadium).  The accomplishment would be quite a feat considering this is the Eagles second year under legendary head coach Jeff Scurran.  Prior to Scurran taking over the program in 2007, the Eagles had a combined record of 6-25 between 2004-2006, with a dismal 0-10 finish in 2006.