In the 1950's the last of the every down iron men was the ferocious Chuck Bednarik who patrolled the middle of the field as a center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Today with each college and pro team having multiple offensive and defensive packages it is an era of extreme specialization. The only game today that still has old school iron men is the high school game. Putting this story together we wanted to focus on players who help their team in multiple ways and in so doing rarely if ever come off the field.
In their run to the 4A state title game Ezra Ricks did everything but sell popcorn for the Cactus Cobras. The 6'0 180 pound Ricks was a clutch kicker who put points on the board in many close Cactus games along with contributing over fifty tackles and two picks on defense. Another old school iron man is Sahuarita's Kyle Day. His stat line borders on the ridiculous. Day rushed for over 600 yards, passed for over 2,000 yards, he had 7 interceptions, averaged over 40 yards a punt and had a field goal of 54 yards. Whew, that made me tired just writing it. Others that deserve mention are Westwood's Jay Leal who averaged over 100 yards rushing per game and over 43 yards per punt and has one of the strongest kicking legs in the state. 6'3 210 pound Brooks Reed of Sabino plays fullback, defensive end and punts for the Sabercats.
As one of the states top returning back we all know about Tim House of Centennial. 1,600 rush yards and 22 TDs, what gets lost is his defensive prowess. House had 5 interceptions that he returned for a total of nearly 200 yards. Sunnyslope's T.J. Campbell averaged 9 yards a carry, had a 20 yard average on 29 receptions, and averaged 25 yards on punt returns and 30 yards on kick off returns. Throw in five interceptions and a fumble recovery and that makes for earning your varsity letter.
In The Thick Of It
No matter how talented a team someone has to do the dirty work. For Centennial last year that role went to Zach Timberlin. The 5'11 200 pound fullback contributed 800 rush yards with 13 TDs, was a lead blocker for two of the states top running backs, was Centennial's special teams MVP and averaged 24 yards per kick off return.
This is a partial list, there are many others who serve their teams nearly every down on a Friday night playing the game the way it was meant to be played.