GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 16–Nov. 22)
WIAA DIVISION 7 LEVEL 3 FOOTBALL: Black Hawk (13–0, #3 in D7) vs. Bangor (13–0, #2 in D7), at Camp Randall, Nov. 16, 10 a.m., WVPL (1590 AM)
The #3-ranked Warriors (13-0 overall) face off against the #2-ranked Bangor Cardinals (13–0) at Camp Randall in the WIAA Division 7 state championship game today at 10 a.m.
Undefeated Black Hawk sealed their state berth at Middleton High School’s Otto Breitenbach Stadium on Friday, Nov. 10, by running roughshod over the #7-ranked Fall River Pirates, 56-8, in a D7 Level 4 playoff football game.
Flanagan threw for a pair of touchdowns and Milz ran for two more scores as the Warriors rolled up over 500 total yards of offense in the game, while the defense limited the Pirates (11-2) to just over 100 total yards on the night.
“It should be a great experience for these kids. I don’t think it’s something we fully expected at the beginning of the year,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz, who led the Warriors to a state title in 2013 and now leads his son’s team back to Camp Randall for the program’s third appearance in a championship game. “I know it was on their list of goals, but I don’t know if anyone figured we would do it. When we beat Potosi/Cassville, and then Pecatonica/Argyle, I think it started to become a reality and everyone started picking up their game. It’s wonderful that they get this chance. Watching (the 2013 team) fueled something in these kids. But, they are going to write their own story. They love football and they play like they love football.”
Black Hawk will have its hands full in Madison on Thursday when they square off against the Cardinals, who won a D7 state title in their only other finals appearance in 2015. Two players on this year’s Bangor team started on their state championship team and five other played on special teams.
“That experience from being there before was a catalyst for getting back,” said Bangor head coach Rick Muellenberg, who led the Cardinals to the Scenic Bluffs title this season. “Defense is the heart of our team, and the offense puts up some points as well.”
On paper, the two teams are nearly identical. The Warriors average 51.3 points per game on offense and allow 7.9 points per game on defense, while the Cardinals score 49.8 points per contest and allow just 3.8. Black Hawk averages 343 rushing yards and 89 passing yards per game for a total of 432 ypg., and the Cardinals run for 347 yards and pass for 54 yards for 401 ypg.
Brody Milz, who was recently announced as a WFCA All-State selection as both a running back and a linebacker, leads the Warriors with 1,568 rushing yards and 27 TDs, while Argall has added 1,432 yards and 25 TDs on the ground. Flanagan has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 985 yards with 14 TDs and four interceptions. Rufenacht has 23 catches for 552 yards and eight TDs.
Brody Milz also leads the team on defense with 118 tackles and 15 tackles for loss on the season. Flanagan has intercepted six passes and recovered five fumbles, while Rufenacht leads the team with five and a half sacks.
Senior running back Luke Reader has rushed for 1,697 yards and 29 TDs for the Cardinals. Senior quarterback Drew Johnson has threw for 703 yards with 14 TDs and only three interceptions, and has ran for 622 yards and 11 TDs. Reader was selected to the WFCA All-State honorable mention team on defense, while senior lineman Garrett Krueger was a two-way honorable mention All-State pick for Bangor.
“Defense is the heart of our team, and the offense puts up some points as well,” Muellenberg said.
Sophomore linebacker Carter Horstman leads the Cardinals’ D with 131 tackles. Reader tallied 69 tackles with three sacks and three interceptions, and Krueger chipped in with 39 tackles with 11 TFLs and three sacks.
“Bangor is impressive. They are everything you need a team to be. There’s no weaknesses,” noted Milz. “It’s a great experience for our players, and it’s a great experience for our community. We’re going to enjoy the heck out of it. Our kids have gained confidence every week. Confidence is going to be a big thing for us on Thursday.”
The two teams have had two common opponents this year and they took care of them both in similar fashion. Bangor defeated Potosi/Cassville, 44–15, in week 7 of the season, while Black Hawk topped the Chieftains, 30–12, in week two of the regular season and then defeated them again, 28–7, in Level 3 of the playoffs. The Warriors beat Scenic Bluff’s New Lisbon, 68–6, in week three of the season, and the Cardinals defeated the Rockets, 57-0, the following week.