Season recap: In his fourth season as coach, Johnson, who played tackle on Tucson Amphitheater’s 1990 state runner-up team, led Ironwood Ridge to its first state championship. Ironwood Ridge gave Peoria Centennial its only two losses in Division II. It also gave Tempe Marcos de Niza its only two losses. It did it with undersized linemen who were fast and a bunch of seniors who had bonded together since they started high school. It forced 28 turnovers during the season, and it bounced back from its only loss, in the final regular-season game to Tucson Salpointe Catholic, and from a 14-0 deficit to Glendale Apollo in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
Coach’s comment: “These seniors have been special since their freshman year. They showed up for conditioning at 7a.m. in January when they were freshmen. For a lot of teams, kids don’t start working hard until their junior year. These kids worked a long time competing for a state championship.”