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Warrior Nation returns to Camp Randall
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Black Hawk senior Mitchell Quinn runs against Potosi-Cassville Oct. 26. Quinn shifted from offensive line, where he was an all-conference player, to fullback this season. - photo by Marissa Weiher

SOUTH WAYNE — For the second straight year, Black Hawk’s football team rolls into the state championship unbeaten. The Warriors (12-0) face Edgar (13-0) at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison at 10 a.m. Thursday for the WIAA Division 7 state championship.

“One more game. Take it game by game and get the gold ball,” senior Mitchell Quinn said.

While the Warriors knocked off defending-champion Bangor in a Level 4 rematch of the 2017 title game at Middleton, Edgar dominated Reedsville 41-0 at Waupaca.

“For us it’s just another great opportunity to play in a state championship football game,” Black Hawk coach Cory Milz said.

Edgar is one of the most distinguished programs around the state — winning seven state titles in 11 trips, including most recently in 2016 over Shullsburg. Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sinz has led the program since 1972.

“I’ve seen them play a little bit, but they are still a Division 7 football team,” Milz said. “Outside of our locker room, there isn’t going to be another person in the state of Wisconsin who thinks that Black Hawk is going to beat Edgar. So, it takes that pressure off of us. We can go in and play hard and let the chips fall where they may.”

The Wildcats have allowed just 43 points in 13 games (3.3 per game) this season, which included a 26-20 win over Stratford in Week 9 and eight shutouts. Edgar is a run-first offense that isn’t afraid to put the ball in the air. The Wildcats have 2,836 rushing yards and 1,201 passing yards.

Quarterback Karson Butt has attempted 111 of Edgar’s 112 passes this season and completed 63 percent. The Wildcats also use a running back by committee, in a sense, as eight players have carried the ball more than 25 times this year, but only one with more than 100 attempts — team rushing leader Will Raatz (108 att., 753 yds, 22 TDs). Kyle Brewster (523 yds, 9.9 ypc), Kaleb Hafferman (455 yds) and Butt (381 yds) are the next top three runners.

If you go ...

What: WIAA Division 7 State Football Championship

Who: Black Hawk (12-0) vs. Edgar (13-0)

Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison

When: Thursday, Nov. 15

Time: 10 a.m.

Cost: $8 single game, $20 day pass, $30 two-day pass

Defensively, Edgar has been even better, allowing just 1,264 rushing yards and 314 passing yards — a total of just 121.3 yards per game. The Wildcats are also outscoring opponents 170-0 in the first quarter and lead by an average score of 27 points at halftime.

While Edgar has faced six teams with more than five wins all season, Black Hawk has wins over seven such teams.

The Warriors are outscoring teams 442-115 on the season (36.8-9.5), and their offense is almost entirely controlled by the running attack. Black Hawk has 3,657 rushing yards this year (304.8) and just 647 passing yards (54 ypg). Defensively, Black Hawk is nearly neck-and-neck with Edgar, allowing just 1,642 total yards at just under 137 yards per game (595 rush, 1,047 pass).

Senior Colby Argall leads Black Hawk in rushing on the year, with 1,938 yards on 215 carries (9.0 ypc). Quinn has 492 yards on 76 carries (6.5) after converting to fullback from offensive line, and first-year senior quarterback Kyle Lovelace has 463 yards on 91 rushing attempts.

“It was a lot of work — weight room, going in there and doing a bunch of agility stuff. It’s a big transition but it’s worth it in the end,” Quinn said.

Lovelace is 38 of 70 passing on the year (54.3 percent) for 631 yards with nine TDs and just one interception. Senior Rece Shelton is the top target, with 20 catches for 377 yards.

Black Hawk’s Colby Argall, Rece Shelton earn WFCA All-State honors

The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association announced its all-state selections Monday, and Black Hawk seniors Colby Argall and Rece Shelton were both named honorable mention.

Selected as a running back, Argall has gained nearly 2,000 yards rushing this year. Shelton was selected as a defensive back.

“I know this is my first year as a starting quarterback and the guys have been really supportive, but I’ve grown a lot over the year and the experience really helps,” Lovelace said.

Shelton is one of those that is happy to see his quarterback performing at a high level as the season has continued.

“He’s definitely stepped up to the occasion,” Shelton said.

The Warriors faced the toughest weather conditions of the season in the semifinal win over Bangor. Temperatures hovered just above 0 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill, and snow flurries added to the Ice Bowl-feel of the game.

“They are disappointed that we didn’t get to play in (more) snow. They were excited that we could possibly play in snow, because they’ve never done that,” Milz said. “But to overcome elements — it was windy down on the field — they wanted it, they gave the effort, (and) they prepared like they should have.”

Milz is proud of his program in more ways than just winning football games. He’s proud of staying even-keel in tough situations and the ability to take criticism in real-time.

Black Hawk quarterback Kyle Lovelace had 116 rushing yards against Bangor in the WIAA Division 7 state semifinal game Nov. 9. - photo by Marissa Weiher

“I give all these kids credit. We talk all the time that each play is like a mini-battle. If you win more plays than the other team, you’ll probably win the game. Let’s not get caught up or get too excited or disappointed with one individual play,” Milz said. “They do a great job, because I’m going to let people know if they are not giving effort or if they do something mentally where they get their eyes off of their keys or something like that. And they are able to absorb me, and take me. Not a lot of kids can be coached nowadays, and our kids can be coached. And they want to be coached.”

For the Warrior players, there’s a little something extra involved. This is the last year Black Hawk will compete as a team itself. Next season a co-op with Warren (Illinois) begins and a likely jump into Division 6 is possible.

“This is obviously the last year of Black Hawk football, so this is our last chance to get a ring as just a sole football team,” Lovelace said. 

“Our school is big into football and a lot of heart and all of that go into it. It’s pretty special,” Quinn said.

Argall added, “It means everything that we’ve got one more (game). Let’s go get ’er done and do it.”