MADISON, Wisconsin — While the 116 enrolled students of Black Hawk come from a variety of small towns in the southwest part of the state, Coach Cory Milz felt it was long overdue to update the area town's "Welcome" signs.
"We've had some outstanding athletes in the history of our school, but we never have quite been able to get that state championship," said Milz. "(We had) that opportunity to be the first group to call ourselves state champions and . have that opportunity to say 'Home of the 2013 Division 7 State Champions.' That's a great thing."
The plywood and paint will be fresh come next football season as Black Hawk completed a dominating run through the Division 7 playoffs with a 42-22 victory over defending champion Glenwood City to win the title Thursday at Camp Randall in Madison.
It was the Warriors' (14-0) first appearance at state since a runner-up finish in Division 6 in 1998.
"This team is outstanding and they got it done today," said Milz, whose brother was the quarterback on that '98 runner-up team. "It's just pure joy. They did what they said they were going to do. They brought home a gold ball."
Once a 14-14 game in the second quarter, the Warriors broke the game open with a Tyler Peterson 24-yard touchdown catch with 28 seconds left in the first half, and saw senior tailback Tanner Sweeney practically put the game away with a 65-yard run on the first play of the second half.
Sweeney finished with 146 yards and two scores, none bigger than the one that put Black Hawk up 30-14 just 17 seconds into the third quarter.
"Sweeney makes plays," said Black Hawk quarterback Heath Butler, who finished 6-for-7 for 126 yards and two scores. "You never know what's going to happen. He's either going to break one for a long run or take one for just five yards."
The Warriors' second half was a dose of karma for the Hilltoppers (13-1), who erased a 14-12 deficit by outscoring Potosi, 34-7, in the final 24 minutes to win last year's division 7 state title. This time, they watched as Black Hawk piled up the points and limited their offense— averaging 46.2 points per game — to eight points after halftime.
"This year and last year we had great teams, but last year we had bigger guys who could fill up holes," said Hilltoppers tailback Isaac Tuttle, who rushed for 151 yards and a score in the losing effort. "Black Hawk is a really good team. I give it to them."
Black Hawk forced five turnovers and picked off Hilltoppers quarterback Nick Mrdutt four times, including two interceptions by Peterson. During its championship run, Black Hawk outscored its five playoff opponents 235-67.
"Our defense has been stout this whole season," Peterson said.