GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 7–13)
WIAA DIVISION 7 FOOTBALL LEVEL 4 PLAYOFF: Black Hawk 24, Bangor 6
MIDDLETON – As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold. How true that turned out to be for the Black Hawk football team on Friday night.
The #2-ranked Warriors served up their revenge on defending state champion Bangor on a cold and windy night at Middleton’s Otto Breitenbach Stadium, turning in a dominating performance on both sides of the ball to knock off the #3-ranked Cardinals, 24–6, in a WIAA Division 7 Level 4 playoff game held on Friday, Nov. 9.
Bangor defeated Black Hawk, 37–14, in last year’s D7 state championship game to deny the Warriors the program’s second-ever state title; however, in Friday’s rematch, the Warriors (12–0 overall) locked down a return trip to Camp Randall while denying the Cardinals (11–2) a chance to defend their title.
“That was the goal. Since last November, that’s what these kids wanted to do. They’ve worked hard for this,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz, who leads the Warriors to Madison for the third time in the past six seasons and the fourth time in school history. “You can’t be more proud of a group of guys than when they accomplish something they wanted to do. It makes it extra special. It’s a great feeling.”
Black Hawk will face top-ranked Edgar (13–0) in the D7 state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Nov. 15. The Wildcats will be seeking their eighth all-time state title in their 12th appearance at state. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.
“For us, it’s a great opportunity to play in another state championship game. Outside of our locker room, there isn’t going to be another person in the state of Wisconsin who thinks that Black Hawk is going to beat Edgar, so there’s no pressure on us. That’s going to be a great feeling because these boys have had pressure on them all year– going undefeated, taking everybody’s best shot and trying to get back to state. It’s been on them, but now the pressure is off. We can go in there, have fun, play hard and let the chips fall where they may,” remarked Milz.
Black Hawk was the one applying the pressure early in Friday’s state semifinal clash, starting on defense by forcing Bangor to punt on their game-opening possession.
Taking over on offense at their own 18-yard line following the punt, the Warriors marched 82 yards on 13 plays to get on the scoreboard.
Senior running back Colby Argall touched the ball on eight of the team’s 13 plays, including a key 20-yard reception on 3rd-and-long that kept the drive going, and he capped the long trek with a 5-yard blast into the end zone with 2:57 remaining in the opening quarter to thrust Black Hawk into the lead.
Senior quarterback Kyle Lovelace punched in the two-point conversion to put the Warriors ahead to stay at 8–0.
“Confidence is everything. That first drive, you’re picking and probing, feeling things out. Once we completed that screen, you could feel the confidence start to build,” stated Milz. “I can’t say enough about our offensive line. And, a lot of those same kids play on the defensive line, too. They really set the tone tonight. That’s really why we won the football game.”
Like a champion does, the Cardinals answered right back with a scoring drive of their own. Going to the air to get the offense moving down the field, senior quarterback Trevor Jones connected with Jaymeson Freit on a 20-yard pass and with Hank Reader on a 29-yard pass to move the Cards from their own 34 down to the Warriors’ 12.
Three plays later, Jones hooked up with Jaden Fargenon a 10-yard TD reception to cut the deficit to 8–6 with 10:43 remaining in the half.
Bangor planned to go for two to tie the game until a procedure penalty moved them back five yards. Then, opting to kick instead, the Cards’ extra-point attempt fell short, leaving the deficit at two.
Neither team found the end zone again the rest of the half as the Warriors went into the intermission clinging to an 8–6 advantage.
Black Hawk charged out of the locker room in the second half and methodically took control of the game. Eating up nearly half of the third quarter clock, the Warriors marched 67 yards on 11 plays with Argall covering the final two on the ground for his 29th TD of the season. The speedy senior added the conversion to put the Warriors ahead at 16–6.
A key play on the drive came deep in Bangor territory when a fumble by Argall bounced right into the hands of classmate Brandon Schiferl at the 13. Three plays later, Argall was in the end zone and the Warriors were up by two scores.
“I thought that was huge,” Milz said of Schiferl’s recovery. “Guys efforts were high. We had a lot of hustle plays and that was one of the key ones. I thought our effort was great all around.”
Bangor looked to answer back once again, riding their star running back Carter Horstman right down the field. The junior carried the ball 10 straight times to open their drive and took the Cards from their own 32 to the Warriors’ 21.
Bangor got a first down at the 14 on an offside penalty by the Warriors on 4th-and-inches; however, after running the ball 12 consecutive times on the drive, the Cards tried to surprise the Warriors with a pass on the 13th play, but Lovelace was there to pick off the Jones aerial in the end zone to halt the drive.
Lovelace quickly turned his turnover into points on the second play of the ensuing drive when he pulled the ball out of Argall’s gut on an option-keeper and sprinted 77 yards to pay dirt to extend the Warriors’ lead.
“I give all these kids credit,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz. “We talked all the time that every play is like a mini battle. If you win more plays than the other team, you’re probably going to win the game. Let’s not get caught up on getting too excited or too disappointed with one individual play. They do a great job with that. We were on (Kyle) a little bit early in the game, but it didn’t get him down and he turned around and made a couple of great plays. That’s the way our kids are, one play at a time. They don’t let things rattle them.”
Argall teamed up with Schiferl on a two-point conversion pass to put Black Hawk ahead 24-6 with 11:46 remaining in the game.
Up by three scores, the Warriors’ defense took over and continued to throttle the Cardinal attack the rest of the way. An interception by Schiferl halted Bangor’s next drive, and the Cards managed just 31 total yards over their final four possessions.
Black Hawk ran the ball 43 times for 304 yards in the game with Argall toting it 26 times for 165 yards and two scores and Lovelace adding 116 yards on 10 carries with one score. The duo also teamed up for the lone pass completion on the night as the Warriors attempted just two passes on this cold and windy night.
Senior Mitchell Quinn tacked on 23 yards on seven carries for the Warriors.
Bangor rolled up over 400 rushing yards and nearly 500 yards of total offense in their state finals victory over the Warriors last season, but on Friday night the Cardinals could only managed 128 rushing yards and 189 total yards against the stout Black Hawk defense.
Those 128 yards were the most allowed by the Warriors on the ground all season. Horstman ran for 103 yards on the night, but he needed 31 carries to get there.
Jones completed his first three passes of the night – all during the second possession– for 59 yards and a TD. In Bangor’s final seven drives, he connected on just one of his six attempts for two yards and was intercepted twice by the Warriors.
Senior Rece Shelton led the Warrior D with 18 total tackles. Quinn tallied 16 tackles and junior Gunner Foecking chipped in with 10 tackles in the victory.
“They wanted it. They gave the effort and prepared like they should have all week to overcome the elements. I’m really proud and happy that they get to go back and play at Camp Randall,” said Milz.
Last year’s appearance has put them in a comfortable position where they know what to expect when they step out there. It should be fun.”
WIAA D7 LEVEL 4
Black Hawk...8 0 8 8 – 24
Bangor.......... 0 6 0 0 – 6
BH – Colby Argall, 5 run (Kyle Lovelace run)
BA – Fargen, 5 pass from Jones (kick failed)
BH – Argall, 2 run (Argall run)
BH – Lovelace, 77 run (Brandon Schiferl pass from Argall)
Team Stats: First Downs – BH 14, BA 10. Rushing – BH 43-304; BA 41-128. Passing – BH 1-2-0, 20; BA 4-9-2, 61. Fumbles-Lost – BH 3-2; BA 2-0. Penalties — BH 3-15; BA 2-10.
Black Hawk Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td) – Colby Argall, 26-165-2; Kyle Lovelace, 10-116-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Kyle Lovelace, 1-2-0-0, 20. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Argall, 1-20-0.