Blackhawks Impressive

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PdC Blackhawks 

have impressive season

By Zach Mara

 

The Prairie du Chien Blackhawks traveled to play the powerhouse #1 seed Clinton Cougars Friday night. The cold and windy night featured a defensive showdown for most of the game. The Blackhawks’ (8-3, 3-2) defense held the Clinton (11-0, 9-0) offense to only 236 yards in the game and kept the state’s leading rusher, Zach Krause, in check for the majority of the game. 

The Hawks were able to move the ball effectively but found themselves unable to finish all of their drives, as Clinton defeated the Blackhawks 28-6 to advance to Round 3 of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs. 

Despite the loss, the Hawks’ impressive season provides an optimistic outlook for the future of the PdC football program.

The first quarter was dominated by the Hawks’ defense, as they held the Cougars to -2 total yards and forced 3 punts. PdC’s offense couldn’t find the end zone either, sending the game to the second quarter in a scoreless tie.

After a PdC punt, the Cougars put together a 7-play, 49-yard drive capped by a 1-yard QB sneak TD run to give Clinton a 7-0 lead after the PAT. The Hawks answered with an excellent 12-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion. Gavin Gillitzer connected with Drake Coleman for a 15-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal to put the Hawks on the board. The PAT was no good, but the Hawks had cut the deficit to 7-6 with 4:35 to go in the first half. 

The Cougars were able to answer quickly, however, as 5 plays later, Zach Krause ran 56 yards into the end zone on a lateral from the quarterback. The PAT was good, increasing the lead to 14-6. 

Following a PdC fumble, Krause ran the first play for 31 yards and his second TD of the game. The Cougars had a 21-6 lead with just under 2 minutes remaining in the half. After the teams exchanged 3-and-outs, the Hawks took over on their own 12-yard line with 46 seconds until halftime. After two passes to Tyler Smock brought the ball to midfield, Gillitzer snapped the ball with under a second on the clock and found Ben Riter open. Riter ran 27 yards before encountering some bad luck, slipping on a sloppy, torn-up area of the field near the Clinton 20-yard line to send the game to halftime with the Cougars up 21-6.

The third quarter was again dominated by the defense, as the scoreless quarter featured 3 punts and a turnover on downs. At the end of the quarter, the Hawks appeared to be going in for a score on a 16-play drive that carried over into the fourth quarter. Gillitzer found Riter open to push the ball down to the 10-yard line, but the Hawks were unable to move the ball forward from there, as they turned the ball over to Clinton on downs at the 15-yard line. 

After forcing a punt, the Blackhawks took over on their own 47-yard line. The Hawks again fell victim to bad luck, as a lineman reached up to snag a screen pass from Gillitzer to Cory Check. With only one man to beat and 2 blockers ahead of him, the Cougar lineman ran 45 yards for a pick-six. The extra point was good, and the score was 28-6 with only 10 minutes remaining in the contest. 

The Hawks would possess the ball twice more but were not able to punch in another score, and the Cougars were able to run out the clock to wrap up a 28-6 victory.

Tyler Smock led PdC rushers with 63 yards on 18 carries. Gavin Gillitzer was 16 for 37 in the air for 235 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Ben Riter led the receivers with 6 receptions for a career-high 112 yards. Drake Coleman hauled in 3 passes for 43 yards and 1 touchdown. Stephen Ronnfeldt led the defense with 15 tackles, and Zach Swiggum recorded 8 tackles.

The Prairie du Chien Blackhawks were led by 8 seniors this year. The seniors — Jacob Mallat (Captain), Nick Rogge, Cory Check (Captain), Robert Velasco, Chris Check (Captain), Tyler Elmquist, Stephen Ronnfeldt (Captain) and Drake Coleman — each contributed to this season’s success in their own way. The captains and Head Coach Jason Thiry established a “Team-First” program to provide the drive that every team needs to be successful. With this, the Blackhawks powered their way to a 7-2 regular season and a playoff appearance. The Blackhawks end their impressive season with an 8-3 record and a positive outlook for the future.

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