MADISON – Bangor did what they do best and ran away with the WIAA Division 7 state championship title.
The Cardinals rushed for over 400 yards and five touchdowns to run down the Black Hawk Warriors, 37-14, in the D7 state final game held at UW-Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 16.
Senior Luke Reader ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore Carter Horstman added 144 rushing yards and three touchdowns as Bangor gashed the Warriors’ defense for a season-high 423 rushing yards behind an offensive line which averaged over 254-pounds per player.
“Bangor is an elite team. They obviously deserve to be state champions. That’s one heck of a team and one heck of a group of senior athletes,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz. “I’m proud of the way our kids fought, hats off to Bangor, but we were right there with them for a large part of the game.”
Bangor (14-0 overall) took a page out of the Warriors’ own playbook by getting off to an extremely fast start in Thursday’s game. Reader raced 57 yards for a score on the second play from scrimmage to put the Cardinals ahead to stay and Horstman punched in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 just 44 seconds into the game.
Senior Adam Tallman took the ball right back for Bangor with a diving interception on a halfback-option pass by Warrior senior Brody Milz; and, five plays later, Horstman busted loose for a 52-yard TD scamper to add to the Cardinals’ lead.
Reader added the conversion to pump the Cardinals’ advantage to 16-0 with 8:38 to play in the first quarter.
“There were explosive plays that they got early. They ripped off some big runs because we lost our leverage and we couldn’t hold it against their line,” remarked Coach Milz. “Their style of offense is tough to defend on a normal basis, and then you throw in that kind of size they have and the efficiency in which they run that, and they’re a difficult team to stop.”
Down but not out, Black Hawk (13-1) answered with a scoring drive of their own to fight their way back into the game.
The Warriors marched 64 yards on six plays with senior quarterback Michael Flanagan slipping into the end zone on a 1-yard keeper to cap the drive. B. Milz teamed with Jett Rufenacht for the two-point conversion to slice the deficit to 16-8 with 6:05 remaining in the opening stanza.
“We gave it all we had out there. I’m proud of the guys. We came out and played physical football,” said B. Milz. “They were bigger, but we kept coming at them– human bullets. I think we played a pretty good game. It’s that brotherhood. We stick together. We love each other with all our hearts and we don’t dare give up on each other.”
Points became tougher to come by for the rest of the first half.
Bangor came up empty following an 11-play, 72-yard drive with Reader missing a 20-yard field goal.
The Warriors took over at their own 20-yard line with 6:15 remaining in the half and advanced down to the Bangor 16 with under a minute to play. However, on the 12th play of the drive, Caleb Miedma made a leaping interception in front of Black Hawk senior Jason Treuthardt in the end zone to end the Warrior threat and the Cardinals went into the locker room at the intermission with a 16-8 lead.
Black Hawk made things interesting by hitting pay dirt on their opening drive of the second half. B. Milz closed the 67-yard trek with a 1-yard TD run with 8:58 to play in the third quarter to cut the Bangor lead to 16-14.
The Cardinals stuffed the Warriors’ two-point attempt to maintain their lead, and then put their running game to work with three straight impressive scoring drives to put the game away. Horstman capped a nine-play, 61-yard drive with a 16-yard TD jaunt midway through the third quarter, and then added a 15-yard TD run to culminate a 13-play, 68-yard drive early in the fourth quarter to make it 29-14.
After stopping the Warriors on a 4th-and-1 run at the Bangor 35, the Cardinals came up with another long scoring drive to lock up the gold ball. Reader closed the eight-play, 65-yard trek with a 9-yard TD run and tacked on the conversion to make it 37-14 with 5:35 remaining.
Junior Colby Argall gave the Warriors one last spark of hope when he returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to the Bangor 29. Then, on the very next play, Rufenacht made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone for an apparent TD, but a penalty wiped out the score and the Warriors threw an interception on fourth down to seal the outcome.
“It was a dogfight. We had opportunities and we just weren’t able to finish. There were some things that could have gone the other way for us, but we didn’t quit,” explained Coach Milz.
Bangor outgained the Warriors for the game, 488-282, including a 423-178 edge in rushing yards. The Warriors had allowed only 293 rushing yards and 30 points in their first four playoff games combined, and had not been outrushed in a game since week four of the regular season against Pecatonica/Argyle.
The two teams combined for D7 state record 601 rushing yards, and were just three yards away from tying the record for combined total yards.
B. Milz ran 15 times for 117 yards and a TD and had three catches on offense, and he tied a D7 state record with 20 tackles (12 solo/8 assists).
Flanagan rushed eight times for 34 yards and a TD and completed 11-of-20 passes for 104 yards with two interceptions.
“They are a very good team. We knew going in they don’t give up many rushing yards and we may have to take more shots,” said Flanagan. “To do it and play one final game with my best friends for the state title was great. We had a heck of a season. I will just remember all of it.”
Argall was limited to 27 yards on seven carries, while Treuthardt had two catches for a team-high 34 yards. Rufenacht made three catches for 20 yards, and junior Rece Shelton added three catches for 27 yards.
On defense, Shelton tallied 12 tackles and sophomore Nick Whitcomb had seven tackles. Argall registered a sack, while sophomore Gunner Foecking and junior Kyle Lovelace each recorded five tackles and half a sack.
“We emphasis that every snap is a different ball game. You’re going to lose some of those snaps, but then you forget about it and go win the next snap. We lost some snaps that turned out to be huge touchdown runs,” said Coach Milz. “We’re disappointed in the moment because we put so much work into it. I’m so proud of these kids because they didn’t quit. They deserve to be here. They deserve to have champions attached to their name.”
WIAA D7 STATE FINAL
Black Hawk…. 8 0 6 0 – 14
Bangor………. 16 0 7 14 – 37
BA – Luke Reader, 57 run (Carter Horstman run)
BA – Horstman, 52 run (Reader run)
BH – Michael Flanagan, 1 run (Jett Rufenacht pass from Brody Milz)
BH – B. Milz, 1 run (run failed)
BA – Horstman, 16 run (Reader kick)
BA – Horstman, 15 run (run failed)
BA – Reader, 9 run (Reader run)
Team Stats: First Downs– BH 13, BA 23. Rushing– BH 30-178; BA 57-423. Passing– BH 11-21-3, 104; BA 3-5-0, 65. Fumbles-Lost– BH 0-0; BA 0-0. Penalties- BH 3-40; BA 2-20.
BH Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Brody Milz, 15-117-1; Michael Flanagan, 8-34-1; Colby Argall, 7-28-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Flanagan, 11-20-2-0, 104; B. Milz, 0-1-1-0, 0. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Rece Shelton, 3-27-0; B. Milz, 3-23-0; Jett Rufenacht, 3-20-0; Jason Treuthard, 2-34-0.