‘From the Maroons to the Hawks’

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Derick Kelly

Derick Kelly’s new book showcases Prairie du Chien High School athletic history and records.

New book by local author a must read for Prairie du Chien sports fans

By Ted Pennekamp


A Prairie du Chien High School graduate, Derick Kelly, has written a book about the athletic history of his alma mater.

The book “From the Maroons to the Hawks: Prairie du Chien High School Athletic Records 1897-2016” is being printed by Howe Printing of Prairie du Chien and is scheduled to make its debut very soon. In fact, maybe as soon as Friday, Nov. 18. 

“The book’s title is a reflection of the growth of Prairie du Chien High School athletics from its first nickname of Maroons (after their all maroon colored uniforms of the late 19th/early 20th centuries) up through its current unofficial moniker of Hawks in 2016,” said Derick.

“The book was originally conceived as more of a media guide than a record book,” said Derick. “But in the process of putting everything together, I realized that using photos would not be very feasible for this printing. It is much more of a record book with 358 pages of win-loss results, stats and lists such as all conference and all state selections with every current varsity sport at Prairie du Chien High School having a section in the book.”

People will be able to buy the book at most home Prairie du Chien varsity athletic events this winter, and online through its Facebook page at, with a small additional cost for shipping. Derick said a portion of the proceeds will go to the Prairie du Chien High School Athletic Booster Club, who helped cover a large amount of the printing costs. He noted that several local businesses and individuals who purchased advertising in the book also helped offset costs. 

The book will be donated to the Prairie du Chien Public Library and the Prairie du Chien High School Library.

While there are plenty of Prairie du Chien High versus Campion/Martin Luther Prep results from each of the sports they faced each other in, the focus is 100 percent on Prairie du Chien High School varsity athletics, said Derick. Derick did note, however, he also may do a similar project on Campion/Martin Luther Prep in the future.

“This project originally started back in the fall of 2008 as a search into the history of Prairie du Chien High School football for a post on the message boards regarding the all-time win-loss records of Wisconsin high school football teams.

“Never did I imagine that a simple project would turn into such an all-encompassing project like this book but it certainly did after spending many hours searching the resources available to me such as Prairie du Chien High School yearbooks and archived microfilm of newspapers such as the Courier Press, La Crosse Tribune, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Wisconsin State Journal, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel among others,” said Derick.

Derick graduated from Prairie du Chien High School in 2005, having played baseball all four years and also serving as wrestling statistician his senior year. After graduation, he attended UW-Milwaukee, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history a few years ago. 

He said the inspiration for his book came from many hours spent reading and researching during and after his time as a student, employee and fan at UW-M. 

“As my interest into the Milwaukee Panthers Athletic history grew, I became interested in the yearly media guides that UWM’s Sports Information Department produces for each team on campus,” Derick said. “So when I was trying to figure out how to use all the research on Prairie du Chien High School athletics that I had been gathering through thousands of hours over the years, I realized that a media guide or record book on Prairie High athletics would be the best way to showcase the school’s athletic history.”

Some of Derick’s favorite facts that he learned while putting the book together include:

•Football was first introduced to Prairie du Chien High School as a game in September of 1892, as was reported in an issue of the Union from October 1892. While the school officially began sponsoring football in 1925, the team has been around since 1897.

•Muscoda was the first ever opponent for Prairie du Chien football back on Nov. 6, 1897 at Muscoda. Prairie du Chien lost 54-0. Muscoda/Riverdale has lost 25 straight games to Prairie du Chien since Muscoda’s win.

•The historic football rivalry between Prairie du Chien and Lancaster dates back to Prairie’s second ever game (and Lancaster’s first) on Nov. 18, 1897, a game which Lancaster won 60-0.

•The first attempt at homecoming took place in 1927, with it becoming a regular annual event in 1930.

•Matt Davis set a Wisconsin state record for the longest interception return with a 105-yard return for a touchdown during a 1992 game at Mineral Point. That record was tied just this fall by a player from Madison West.

•The infamous Armistice Day Storm of 1940 featured a 0-0 Prairie du Chien football tie at Boscobel that started at 1 p.m. in 70-degree temperatures. The game ended in sub-freezing temperatures that cracked the engines of most cars that made the trip to Boscobel that day.

•During the 1923-24 boys basketball season, Prairie defeated both the 1923 Wisconsin State Champions (long-defunct Wisconsin High of Madison) and the 1923 Iowa State Champions (Osage High School).

•The great unsung individual performances, such as Dr. Jan Kieser scoring five touchdowns (three rushing and two receiving) and throwing for one as he out-gained the Cubans by himself during a 1952 game at Cuba City. Or his brother Bruce returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game versus Boscobel in 1957, with Bruce running the last 50 yards of the second return with only one shoe on. Not to mention his amazing 51-point game in basketball during a 114-49 win over Fennimore in 1959, which is still a school record.

•And, personally for Derick, learning that he is distantly related to former Prairie du Chien track great Jerry Fernette. Jerry’s grandfather John Fernette and Derick’s great-great grandmother Emma Fernette Cota were siblings.

“From the Maroons to the Hawks” features numerous other interesting facts and tidbits of random information regarding Prairie du Chien High athletics and is sure to be a must read for every Prairie du Chien fan young or old.

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