SOUTH WAYNE – Third-ranked Black Hawk used a fast start to race to another playoff victory, and is now just one win away from a trip to Camp Randall.
The Warriors scored touchdowns on two of their first three offensive plays to open up an early 14-0 lead on Six Rivers Conference rival Potosi/Cassville, and then turned in a dominating defensive performance to chop down the Chieftains, 28-7, in a WIAA Division 7 Level 3 playoff football game held at Murphy Field on Friday, Nov. 3.
“The boys hustled their tails off and beat a really, really good football team. Just an outstanding defensive effort out of these kids,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz. “Boy, that was a dogfight. We got to them early, but Potosi/Cassville came roaring back in the second and third quarter. It was a physical game. I’m very proud of our kids.”
The two teams met in week two of the regular season with the Warriors winning that game as well, 30-12, on the way to a perfect finish in the Six Rivers Conference. A rematch seemed inevitable since that first meeting as both teams continued to roll through the regular season and first two round of the playoffs with impressive results.
On Friday, the Warriors (12-0 overall) showed were as ready for the Chieftains (9-3) the second time around as they were for the first by jumping out to a 20-0 first quarter advantage.
The Chieftains had the ball first and quickly drove inside Warrior territory on a 35-yard run by junior running back Ty Bausch on the second play from scrimmage. The guests got down to the BH 23 before a pair of penalties and a negative play caused them to turn the ball over on downs at the BH 43.
Black Hawk wasted no time getting its offense going with senior fullback Brody Milz striking pay dirt on the Warriors first play from scrimmage, racing 57 yards into the end zone. Senior quarterback Michael Flanagan teamed with junior Rece Shelton for the conversion to put the Warriors up 8-0 with 8:58 to play in the opening stanza.
Another negative play by the Chieftains– a high snap over punter Jaydon Carbone’s head– set the Warriors up at P/C’s 9-yard line to start their second possession; and, on the second play from scrimmage, Flanagan connected with Shelton on an 8-yard scoring strike to increase the lead to 14-0 with 5:46 to go in the first quarter.
A short punt by the Chieftains set the Warriors up at their own 40 on their third drive, and Flanagan capped an eight-play, 60-yard scoring trek with a 25-yard touchdown run to put the host ahead 20-0 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
“You take anything you can get in a game like this. Setting the tempo in the first quarter was huge from a confidence standpoint. Whatever doubts our players had coming in, they no longer had thanks to the way we started,” explained Milz.
The Chieftains continued to struggle to move the football in the second quarter until a fumble recovery by Nate Wieseler on an errant Black Hawk pitch gave his team a short field and they cashed it in with their lone scoring drive.
On 4th-and-2 from the BH 27, the Warriors gambled with safety blitz and Chieftain quarterback Will Bierman connected with tight end Mason Infield on a touchdown pass to get the guests on the board. Cyrus Siegert’s extra point cut the deficit to 20-7 with 1:57 remaining in the opening half.
“I blitzed with our strong safety and that left their tight end wide open. Other than that mistake by me, our kids played tremendous on defense,” Coach Milz admitted.
The teams traded interceptions on the next two drives, and a late Warrior drive was stopped shy of the end zone as the hosts took a 20-7 advantage into the locker room at the halftime intermission.
Coach Milz put the game on the offensive line and the defense in the second half, and both units came through with flying colors. Black Hawk ran 34 offensive plays to the Chieftains’ 13 plays over the final two quarters and held onto the ball for nearly 18 minutes of the 24 minutes, while the Warriors’ D held the Chieftains to minus-10 yards of total offense the entire second half.
B. Milz’s 1-yard TD plunge and his two-point conversion pass midway through the fourth quarter put the finishing touches on the Warriors’ 28-7 victory.
Black Hawk finished the night with 319 yards rushing on 49 carries and added 54 yards passing on three completions. Opening the holes at the line were seniors Nathan Hull and Ben Holland, juniors Jayden Stietz and Mitchell Quinn, and sophomore Avery Baumgartner.
B. Milz, who rushed for over 200 yards and two scores in the first meeting between the teams, rolled up 164 yards and two more scores in Friday’s game to lead the Warriors’ ground assault.
Flanagan added 76 yards and a TD on 12 carries and completed 3-of-9 passes for 54 yards with a TD and an interception, while junior tailback Colby Argall gained 64 yards on 15 carries. Senior Jett Rufenacht had a 41-yard catch in the game, and Shelton had two catches for 13 yards and a score for the Warriors.
The Chieftains managed just 41 yards of net offense on the night after committing eight offensive penalties for a loss of 63 yards. The Chieftains rushed 31 times for 53 yards and completed 5-of-14 passes for 51 yards.
For the game, Potosi/Cassville was flagged 11 times for a total of 110 yards.
Bausch and senior Dylan Pluemer, who had both rushed for over 1,000 yards this season coming into Friday’s game, where held to a combined 100 rushing yards by the stout Warriors’ D. Bausch carried the ball 11 times for 82 yards and had two catches for 16 yards, while Pluemer ran 10 times for 22 yards.
Black Hawk sacked Bierman four times and caused two turnovers in the game. Sophomore Gunner Foecking registered two sacks, while junior Kyle Lovelace and sophomore Nick Hull notched one apiece.
Ni. Hull also caused a fumble, which was recovered by Quinn, and sophomore Jaylen Rufenacht intercepted a pass for the Warriors.
“We’ll enjoy this win for a night, and then we’ll get to work,” stated Coach Milz.
Black Hawk advanced into Level 4 of the D7 tournament for the first time since winning the state title in 2013. The Warriors will head to Middleton High School on Friday, Nov. 10, to face #9-ranked Fall River (11-1), who knocked off #4-ranked and previously unbeaten Wild Rose (12-1) by a score of 8-7 in a Level 3 contest last Friday.
Fall River has won 10 consecutive games since suffering a 27-12 loss to that same Wild Rose squad in week two of the regular season. The Pirates score an average of 29.4 points per game while allowing 12.9 ppg. The Warriors average 50.9 ppg. on offense and 8.3 ppg. on defense.
“I don’t know much about them other than they made it to Level 4, too,” said Milz following Friday’s game. “We’ll soon get to know them really well.”
Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
WIAA D7 LEVEL 3
Potosi/Cass… 0 7 0 0 – 7
Black Hawk… 20 0 0 8 – 28
BH – Brody Milz, 57 run (Rece Shelton pass from Michael Flanagan)
BH – Shelton, 8 pass from Flanagan (run failed)
BH – Flanagan, 25 run (run failed)
PC – Infield, 27 pass from Will Bierman (Siegert kick)
BH – Milz, 1 run (Jett Rufenacht pass from Milz)
Team Stats: First Downs– PC 7, BH 14. Rushing– PC 31-62; BH 49-319. Passing– PC 5-15-1, 48; BH 3-9-1, 54. Fumbles-Lost– PC 3-1; BH 3-1. Penalties- PC 11-110; BH 10-75.
BH Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Brody Milz, 19-164-2; Michael Flanagan, 12-76-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Flanagan, 3-9-1-1, 54. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Jett Rufenacht, 1-41-0; Rece Shelton, 2-13-1.