FOOTBALL: Ironwood Ridge 24, Canyon del Oro 21

Elijah Carey rushed for a game-high 229 yards. (Andy Morales/


Effort is hard to define. You know what it looks like when you see it but it’s almost impossible to gauge and you certainly can’t coach it. Simply, if a player has it, they are on the field and if a player shows it, he gives his team has a chance to win. Such was the case Friday night when Kyle Nicolai “ran faster than he had ever run before” to intercept a tipped ball at the goal line with 15 seconds left to preserve a 24-21 win for Ironwood Ridge over Canyon del Oro.

The Amphitheater School District rivalry had its usual standouts on the field with Nick Brahler gaining 218 yards on 18 carries to lead Ironwood Ridge (4-0) and Elijah Carey rushing 32 times for 229 yards for Canyon del Oro (2-1) but big games with big names are usually decided by team effort and the unknown. In this case, Nicolai was one of the “unknown” factors…..


Nick Brahler gained 218 yards. (Andy Morales/


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the state’s top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on Andy was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at


To Top