LANCASTER — Going into last Friday night’s Homecoming football game against visiting Prairie du Chien, John Hoch’s pregame speech to his Flying Arrows addressed the importance of playing with some emotion and excitement right from the start.
His Flying Arrows certainly didn’t disappoint either, as they posted a 42-0 halftime score, which allowed the reserves to play the entire second half, on their way to a 42-7 victory.
With the win, coach Hoch’s squad became playoff eligible for the 24th consecutive season, and improved to 3-0 in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference and 7-0 overall with two league games remaining.
Against the Blackhawks of Prairie du Chien, the Lancaster defense was as stingy as ever, while the Flying Arrow offense showed off a more versatile attack.
On Prairie du Chien’s seven offensive possessions in the first half, they were limited to just 39 yards of total offense and shut out of the end zone.
Lancaster’s defense has been one of the stingiest in the league, especially when it comes to defending the run.
In their seven games this season, the Flying Arrow defense has given up just three rushing touchdowns, two coming against River Valley, while allowing just 66 rushing yards per contest and an average of 2.5 yards per rushing attempt.
Against the Blackhawks last Friday night, they gave up just 27 yards rushing on 20 attempts for an average of 1.4 yards per carry.
Seniors Austin Lucey and Matt Withey, along with junior Gabe Hudson, led Lancaster Friday night with 4.5 tackles each, while Hudson had one sack and junior Jordan Reuter came up with one interception.
When talking about the defensive unit, coach Hoch likes what he sees with a total group effort that leads to many players converging to the ball.
“It’s 11 guys that are really flying to the ball and they’re buying into what coach (Kyle Stiklestad) is feeding them and in what we believe in,” said Hoch of his defense.
“We just need to keep playing like that. I’ve been very impressed during the last three or four games with how they’ve come together,” Hoch added.
While the Lancaster defense dominated their side of the field in the first half, the Lancaster offense did the same, attacking from the ground and through the air.
On Lancaster’s six offensive possessions in the first half, they accumulated 359 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns on their way to a 42-0 halftime route.
Attempting to take away Lancaster’s top offensive threat in junior fullback Evan Gates, the Prairie du Chien defense forced Lancaster to go a little deeper into their playbook, which the Flying Arrows were more than happy to do.
Gates finished the first half with 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, before joining the rest of the starters on the sideline for the entire second half.
Junior quarterback Evan Straka was equally as impressive in the first half, and played what coach Hoch called his most complete performance of the season.
Straka scored three touchdowns on the ground with runs of 19, 9 and 14 yards, and finished the half with 78 yards rushing on nine attempts.
Through the air he completed 9-of-14 passing attempts for 143 yards and one more touchdown, a three-yard strike to senior Tanner Reuter.
“We were very happy that we finally threw the ball the way we have been kind of expecting to throw it,” Hoch said.
“When Evan (Straka) does complete some passes, I think he gets a little confidence, and I think he played probably his most complete game of the season,” Hoch added.
It was senior Drew Reuter leading all receivers with two catches for 50 yards, while Gates had two receptions for 40 yards, Tanner Reuter four for 37 and Josh Hentrich one for 16.
This Friday night the Flying Arrows travel to Dodgeville (1-2, 4-3) to take on the Dodgers, who are coming off a 38-0 loss to Platteville.
The Dodgers come into the game averaging just under 20 points per game and giving up an average of 21.1 to their opponents.
They gave up an average of 170.1 rushing yards per game and an average of 71.4 passing yards to their opponents, while averaging 105 yards on the ground and 48.7 through the air.
After their first seven games, the Flying Arrows average 39.1 points per game and give up an average of 10.9. They also average 290.6 yards rushing per contest and 76.0 yards passing.
Lancaster 42, Prairie du Chien 7
(from Friday, Sept. 30)
PdC 0 0 0 7 - 7
Lancaster 21 21 0 0 - 42
L - Evan Gates, 21-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
L - Evan Gates, 1-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
L - Evan Straka, 19-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
L - Evan Straka, 9-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
L - Evan Straka, 14-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
L - Tanner Reuter, 3-yard pass from Evan Straka (Tanner Oyen kick)
PdC - Dominic Wright, 19-yard pass from Gavin Gillitzer (Colten Wall kick)
First downs - PdC 4, L 17. Rushing - PdC 20-27, L 38-230. Passing yards - PdC 80, L 143. Passes - PdC 5-14-1, L 9-15-0. Fumbles-lost - PdC 0-0, L 2-0. Penalties-yards - PdC 6-50, L 4-40.
PdC: Ethan Swiggum 9-20, Dominic Wright 3-7.
L: Evan Gates 11-113, Evan Straka 9-78, Tanner Reuter 3-32, Ty Mayne 5-18, Drew Reuter 3-3.
PdC: Gavin Gillitzer 5-14-1, 80.
L: Evan Straka 9-14-0, 143.
PdC: Tyler Smock 1-41, Cory Check 2-21, Dominic Wright 2-18.
L: Drew Reuter 2-50, Evan Gates 2-40, Tanner Reuter 4-37, Josh Hentrich 1-16.