By Tim Hundt and Nathan Randall
The Viroqua Blackhawk Football program has had a rough few years. The Blackhawk’s went winless last year in 8 tries and had just 9 wins in the last four
seasons, but the Hawks win over Sparta Friday night had a different feel to it. It wasn’t just that they improved to 2-1, it felt like something had shifted. The team became more confident and it felt as if they began to believe that success is possible.
If Head Coach Rob Heller is successful in turning this program around and end up with a winning season or even hit 500, they may just point to a play at the end of this game as the turning point. A fourth and four situation inside the Sparta 30, down by one with less than two minutes left in the game. You could almost hear the collective wondering of fans who in the past may have been let down in this situation and were on the edge of their seats to see if this was finally the year Viroqua would take control of the opportunity presented to them. Throughout the night when Viroqua had success it had been followed by Sparta success or a fumble or penalties. It had been a back and forth game. It was simple, move the ball and score and you win. Fans were not disappointed when Anders Frost punched it in from about 10 yards out. You could feel the collective wind go out of Sparta’s sails and the wind pick up for Viroqua. But it was more than that, it was shift in confidence that these young payers … and coaches… needed to turn a whole program around.
The ensuing minute or so was a nail biter, the crowd not sure what to expect given both teams struggles in the past few seasons, but in the end the Blackhawks would get the upper hand. The Blackhawk defense stood its ground and even moved Sparta farther from their goal as Sparta tried to pass their way down the field.
The Blackhawks seem to be maturing bfore our eyes. Running backs in Andres Frost, Peyton Ward, who early in the game opened it up for Viroqua with a 57 yeard run, and Zach Trautsch all ran well and the hawks young quarterback Andrew Kleiber is solid when he gets time to throw. The team has a small group of solid seniors and a talented group of Juniors and Sophomores. The coaching staff has been shuffled but most of the names are the same. Head Coach the last four years, Josh Hansen is still on the staff along with Bill Hannah. The new Head Coach Rob Heller is hardly a new face having coached the defense the last several years. And apart from throwing a bit more the offensive and defensive strategies have not changed all that much either, but nonetheless, it sure felt different this Friday night. Time will tell if this was the turning point everyone has been working toward.