Blackhawks’ good season comes to an end

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Gavin Gillitzer throws over a defender Friday night. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

The Blackhawks swarm to the ballcarrier Friday night.

Mason Kramer makes a catch along the sideline.

The Prairie defense stops New Glarus for a short gain.


By Zach Mara


The #2 seed Prairie du Chien Blackhawks hosted #7 New Glarus/Monticello Friday night in Round 1 of the Division 5 WIAA Playoffs. The atmosphere at John C Mulrooney left no doubt that it was playoff football, and the brisk night emphasized that point even further. The Blackhawks (8-2) entered the game after winning an undefeated conference title in the SWC and faced off the Knights (5-5) of the Capital-South. New Glarus/Monticello used a pass-first mentality and multiple trick plays to earn a hard-fought 28-24 victory over the Blackhawks.

After opening the game with a 31-yard trick play, the Knights’ drive stalled and the Hawks forced a punt from midfield. Ten plays later, Tyler Smock opened the scoring on a run from 10 yards out. The extra point was no good, but the Hawks had an early 6-0 lead. After another New Glarus punt and a PdC turnover on downs, the Knights got on the board on a trick play TD pass from the PdC 26-yard line. The PAT was good, giving New Glarus/Monticello a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter. The Knights would score again two minutes later on another trick play after the Hawks’ fake punt was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Knights’ score came from 27 yards out to increase the lead to 14-6 after the extra point. The momentum quickly switched however, as Tyler Smock gathered up the ensuing kickoff at the 12-yard line and split the defense for an 88-yard kickoff return, the 5th longest in PdC history. The Hawks’ two-point attempt was no good, but the lead was shrunk to 14-12 with 5 minutes remaining in the first half. The Hawks would take the lead after another New Glarus punt, this time scoring on a 13-yard TD pass from Gavin Gillitzer to Carter Pederson to cap a 10-play drive. The 2-point try was no good, but the Hawks had an 18-14 lead heading into halftime.

After the Hawks had a drive stall and the teams exchanged punts, the Knights regained the lead on a 17-yard TD pass with 3:24 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The extra point was good, giving New Glarus/Monticello a 21-18 lead. The Hawks would answer immediately, putting together a 9-play, 69 yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown run from Smock to give the Hawks another lead. The PAT attempt was again missed, and the Hawks had a 24-21 lead to open the 4th quarter.

After the teams exchanged punts once again, the Knights used a couple big plays to regain the lead on a 36-yard TD pass. The extra point was successful, and New Glarus had taken a 28-24 lead with 6:05 remaining in the game. The Hawks drove deep into the Knights’ territory on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled and PdC turned the ball over with 2 minutes remaining. However, the Hawks still had 3 timeouts, and the defense successfully forced a 3-and-out to give the Blackhawks one last attempt at a comeback. The Hawks had the ball on their own 34-yard line with 1:24 remaining and no timeouts left. The Knights’ defense made huge stops on first and second downs and forced the Hawks into a 4-and-5 situation. The defensive line got pressure on Gillitzer, who was hit as he threw and the ball came down in the hands of a Knight defender. After 3 kneel-downs, the New Glarus/Monticello Knights had wrapped up a hard fought 28-24 victory over the Prairie du Chien Blackhawks, and will face the Horicon/Hustisford Marshmen (9-1) next Friday night.

Tyler Smock led the rushers with 29 carries for 194 yards and 2 rushing TDs on top of his kick return TD. Gavin Gillitzer was 17-31 in the air for 204 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Mason Kramer led the receivers with 9 receptions for 105 yards, and Carter Pederson added 3 receptions for 37 yards and 1 TD. Reid Koenig led the defense with 8 tackles, and Aaron Neisius and Keenan Holley added 6 tackles apiece.

Tyler Smock (Sr.) finishes his career with 37 career touchdowns, good for 5th place in PdC history. Gavin Gillitzer (Sr.) finishes his career as the PdC passing yardage leader with 4,273 career passing yards. He also finishes with the single-season and single-game passing yards records. He ties for 2nd place on the career passing TD list with 41, and is the single-season passing TD leader with 27 passing touchdowns this year. Mason Kramer (Jr.) finishes this season in 6th place for career TD receptions, with one year to go. Kramer also holds the single-game TD reception and single-game receiving yards records, while coming in second on the single-season interceptions record with 7. Reid Koenig’s (Sr.) 8 career interceptions place him in a tie for 2nd most career interceptions with Mason Kramer and one former player. At this time, we thank all of the Blackhawks’ seniors on an outstanding season and on outstanding high school careers. Your 2018 football seniors are Carter Pederson, Tyler Smock, Mitchell Luster, Gavin Gillitzer, Clayton DuCharme, Reid Koenig, Zachary Swiggum, Korbin Bachman, Keenan Holley, Jakob Anderson, Aaron Neisius, Jacob Joy, Sam Fernberg, Luke Wright, Grant Martin, and Ryan McGrath.

The Hawks wrapped up their impressive season at 8-2, 5-0, their best record since 2000 and first outright conference title since 1988. This year marks the second-best all-time offensive performance in points scored and points-per-game, second only to 2008 (all stats per Derick Kelley). The Blackhawks’ players and coaches would like to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting the Hawks every Friday night this season and showing the athletes that their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed. We’ll see you all next August, as the Hawks will roll into the season with a new team, but the same focus and the same goals. Once a Hawk, Always a Hawk!

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