Tag Archives: Ironwood

high schools

Ironwood looks to improve on 7-win season

by Jason Stone

When Ian Curtis took over as head coach for Glendale Ironwood’s football program two years ago, it didn’t seem like a program that needed to rebuild.
But almost a decade removed from its last state championship game and with a series of records around .500, the school was looking for a spark when former coach Larry Allen left after the 2009 season. A host of assistant coaches left after that season, too.
“It was awfully tough,” said Curtis, who was left with three assistants to begin his first year. He quickly realized he had to improve his coaching staff as much as the player personnel.
Ironwood made slow progress the second year under Curtis, going from three wins the first year to seven in 2011. Last year’s improvement included a Division II playoff appearance and a win for the ages — a 69-68 thriller over then-unbeaten Glendale Deer Valley at homecoming.
PHP5032B69F25238Now, with a senior-dominated team and three assistants with head-coaching experience, Curtis said he expects more improvement this year.
Linemen appear to be the team’s strength, led by two-way player Elijah Cox. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior is a tenacious blocker, who is starting to draw college attention, having already received an offer from Northern Colorado.
Brothers Bill and Blake Duckworth man the offensive guard positions, helping give Ironwood what Curtis calls “one of the most impressive offensive lines Ironwood has yet to see.”
That line will be paving the way for running back Michael Alexander. Curtis calls him the strongest player in the program. Ironwood will again utilize Alexander rushing (1,003 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns last year) and receiving out of the backfield.
Curtis said he is also counting on seniors Abram Chairez and Camden Shirey to provide on-field leadership. The two-way Chairez will rarely leave the field, while Shirey (6-1, 220) is a linebacker who Curtis expects to have a breakout year.
Overall, it will be the senior class that will propel the team to great things, Curtis said.
“From the moment I arrived on Ironwood’s campus, this group of seniors has committed itself to becoming the best it can be,” Curtis said. “They are a great group of kids — intelligent, hardworking and self-motivated. I’m proud to be the head coach of this team.”

Published at azcentral.com • Aug. 17, 2012

high schools

Ironwood outlasts Deer Valley in a wild victory

Teams tally 19 touchdowns on
23 possessions; Ironwood hands
Deer Valley first loss, 69-68

by Jason Stone

No, that wasn’t arena football at Glendale Ironwood Friday night, but those who saw it probably won’t ever forget it.
Ironwood’s Matt Paparella broke a handful of tackles and dragged some Glendale Deer Valley defenders into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run with six seconds left to lift Ironwood to a 69-68 Division II Section I homecoming win.
The loss ended Deer Valley’s perfect season in a game even the people at Buffalo Wild Wings couldn’t have made more exciting.
“We prepared for this game like none other over the last few years here,” said Ironwood coach Ian Curtis in front of a jubilant homecoming crowd that stormed the field. “I told the team there are certain special moments in life and this is one if them.”
How offensive was this game? Combined, the teams scored 19 touchdowns on 23 possessions, amassed nearly 1,200 yards of total offense and punted only twice.
Deer Valley (8-1) actually thought it may have had the game won twice in the fourth quarter. First, Chris Landrum returned an interception 59 yards for a score to give Deer Valley a 68-62 lead with three minutes to go.
Then, it appeared Deer Valley had held Ironwood (7-2) on downs with under a minute to go. But as players celebrated the apparent win, officials called defensive holding. It extended the drive and led to Paparella’s winning run on the next play.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Paparella said about the tackles he broke on the winning run. “This feels unbelievable.”

Published at azcentral.com • Oct. 22, 2011

high schools

Ironwood frosh leads list of state track winners

by Jason Stone

Some runners call track’s 800 meters the hardest race to complete. It is not a sprint, nor is it a distance run, making it tricky for some.
That does not apply to Ironwood freshman Leah Ybarra.
In only a handful of races, Ybarra went from randomly trying the event to state champion.
Ybarra won the 800-meter dash at the 5A state track and field championship at Arizona State University last week after picking up the event midway through the season “to help the team score some points.”
Normally a 100-meter sprinter, Ybarra has never lost an 800 race.
“I’m still really surprised,” the 15-year-old Ybarra said.
Ybarra held off city-foe Shelley Splittberger of Deer Valley in the 800, winning with a time of two minutes, 14.56 seconds, just .15 of a second ahead of Splittberger.
Ybarra wasn’t the only local state champion in the 800.
Mountain Ridge’s Reese Byerrum won his second consecutive boys 800 title by turning in a time of 1:52.09. He outpaced Deer Valley’s Chris Tabanico, who finished third at 1:56.00.
Ybarra and Byerrum helped their teams finish the highest among local schools.4c50a16f6c0e7.image
Ironwood’s girls finished with 36 points to take fifth as a team, behind South Mountain, Desert Vista, Flowing Wells and (Mesa) Mountain View.
Mountain Ridge’s boys finished in a tie for 12th.
Ironwood and Deer Valley’s boys teams nearly collected some state champions.
Ironwood’s Paul Gill took second in the high jump and actually tied the mark for highest jump at 6 feet, 10 inches. Teammate Skylar Hagg finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-10.
In addition to Tabanico’s third-place finish in the 800, Deer Valley received a third place from Jason Thier in the discus.
Among local 5A girls, Ironwood was bolstered by points in six events beside Ybarra’s win.
The 4×100 relay team took third, while the 4×400 team finished fourth. Sarah Reeves picked up points in the triple jump (fifth) and long jump (sixth), while Kelsey Klein was sixth in the high jump and Valerie Scott took sixth in the 100 hurdles.
The 4A races at Mesa Community College crowned Greg Lacey a two-time champion.
The junior at Glendale High School, defended his state championship in the long jump and added the triple jump title to his resume.
Lacey leaped 22-6½ in the long jump and 44-8 in the triple jump to help Glendale finish 11th as a team, the highest of all local 4A boys teams.
Lacey’s brother, Craig, also picked up points with a fourth-place finish in the shot put.
Cactus and Apollo picked up points without winning any events.
The Cobras got a sixth-place finish from Josh Butler in the 800, while their 4×800 relay team took sixth.
Apollo’s Prince Amukamara (fourth in the 100) and Monti Washington (eighth in the high jump) scored the Hawks’ points.
In the 4A girls race, Cactus’ Jessica McDonald followed up a triple championship in last week’s Wells Fargo Region meet with a state title in the 400 to help the Cobras take second as a team.
McDonald turned in a time of 55.26 seconds in the 400 to win by half a second over Lake Havasu’s Meaghan Ryan.
McDonald also took third in the 100 and 200.
The Cobras were also helped by a second-place showing from Katherine Allen in the high jump. Allen leaped 5-4 to lose to Agua Fria’s Linda Ubah by two inches.
The Cobras’ 4×400 relay team also took second, while Cactus’ 4×100 relay squad ended up seventh.
Sophia Guerrero was fourth in the shot put to round out Cactus’ scoring.
Apollo, Glendale and Independence each had one state girls placer.
Precious Amukamara was sixth in the 200, while Dominque Mayberry was third in the 300 hurdles for Independence and Fantina Santiago was eighth in the discus for Glendale.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 22, 2005

high schools

Prep teams battle for state positioning

by Jason Stone

Bats will ping and guns will sound as local baseball, softball and track teams get into playoff form this week.
As of Tuesday morning, a handful of local baseball and softball teams were still alive for their respective region championships, prior to next week’s state competition.
Cactus softball, looking for its third-straight 4A championship before conferences are split next year, will host the championship of the Wells Fargo Region Friday.
Deer Valley, meanwhile, ended as the top softball team in the 5A Northwest Region and earned the No. 1 seed at the postseason tournament. Mountain Ridge finished second.
In baseball, Mountain Ridge has the No. 1 seed for this week’s 5A Northwest Region championship series against Goldwater, the team that upset the Mountain Lions in regionals last year.
Ironwood, meanwhile, entered the 5A Desert West Region tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Track and field championships for the Northwest, Desert West, Desert Sky, Skyline and Wells Fargo regions will also be held this week as teams get one last chance at qualifying for next week’s state meets.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 4, 2005

high schools

Prep region races begin this week

by Jason Stone

Spring break is over and now the real action gets going.
All local baseball and softball teams will be in the midst of region play this week as the 5A Desert West Region starts play, joining the 5A Northwest, 4A Desert Sky, 4A Skyline and 4A Wells Fargo, which have already started their region seasons.
Mountain Ridge baseball is hoping to claim the top spot in the Northwest Region after starting the season with 15 wins in its first 16 games.
Ironwood’s baseball team will have its hands full with Sunrise Mountain and Tolleson, teams that have gotten off to great starts.
In softball, Apollo has started off strong and will be a team to beat in the Desert Sky Region, while two-time defending champion Cactus is again the team to beat in the Wells Fargo Region.
The second Deer Valley/Sandra Day O’Connor Softball Festival is also scheduled for this weekend and features local teams Deer Valley, Ironwood, Cactus and Mountain Ridge.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 31, 2005