James Hardy Jr., the head coach at Ironwood Ridge the last three seasons, resigned from his position on Monday citing a need “to step back and think about what’s best for me and family going forward.”
Hardy had an 11-13 record with the Nighthawks including a 6-5 record this season. They won four of the last five games to reach the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
“I was proud of how the guys came around to trusting our coaching and the process and also believing in their ability to be successful,” Hardy said of this season, one in which the Nighthawks averaged 56.8 points in their four-game winning streak to end the regular season.
Ironwood Ridge also was competitive in the playoff game at Desert Mountain, trailing by only 7-0 at halftime before losing 17-7.
“We had a lot of memorable moments like beating Campo Verde (in the third week of the season) and playing well toward the end winning at Marana (outscoring the Tigers 69-27 in the regular-season finale),” Hardy said. “Coming off a tough Covid year (in 2020 losing the two games they played) in which we were so excited about our chances, to coming on strong this season, I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
Ironwood Ridge also qualified for the state playoffs in Hardy’s first season in 2019.
Hardy, who previously served as the offensive line coach at Canyon del Oro in 2018, coached at the high school and junior college level in California for 13 years.
He played at the junior college level in California before transferring to California Lutheran to finish his degree.
He coached in the Inland Empire of Los Angeles as an offensive assistant and track and field coach at Quartz Hill and Antelope Valley high schools. He also worked as an offensive assistant coach at Lancaster and Eastside high schools before serving as the offensive line and assistant coach at Los Angeles Valley and Antelope Valley colleges from 2011-18.
“I do want to coach again, but right now, my future with that is up in the air,” said Hardy, who added that he is not certain if that means staying in Tucson or returning to California.
“I actually do know my next move — coaching my son’s flag football team,” he said with a laugh.
Hardy said he will remain at Ironwood Ridge as a physical education teacher for the rest of this school year.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.