Aquinas vs. Prairie du Chien

Aquinas High School’s Conley Malone brings down Prairie du Chien’s Tyler Smock during a nonconference game at UW-La Crosse on Aug. 19. Smock has rushed for 853 yards in helping the Blackhawks to a 6-0 start.

Rory O’Driscoll, La Crosse Tribune

Thanks in part to his group of four senior captains and veteran assistant coaches, Prairie du Chien High School football coach Jason Thiry said that his job this season has been easy.

With things clicking as they should be, led by the senior captain quartet of Cory Check, Chris Check, Stephen Ronnfeldt and the injured Jacob Malatt, it’s easy to see why the Blackhawks are off to a 6-0 start entering tonight’s homecoming battle with 5-1 Lancaster.

“When the team can run itself, and I can run X’s and O’s,” said Thiry, “that’s when it’s fun.”

Coming off a 3-6 season, Thiry said that the individuals on the Prairie du Chien roster have matured quickly, which has born fruit quickly, especially in late-game situations.

Comebacks against Darlington in a 19-18 win, and in a 24-21 win over Arcadia, have allowed the Blackhawks to remain unblemished to this point.

“I’ve seen growth out of many players that were unproven,” Thiry said. “The ability to come back from behind twice, on last-minute drives to take the lead in games — it’s just a team-first mentality.”

One of the Blackhawks who has burst onto the scene is junior running back Tyler Smock, who has rushed for 853 yards on 98 carries, including a 29-carry, 290-yard effort in a 21-14 win over Platteville a week ago.

“You never know which juniors are going to break out , but he just has an ability to make people miss and finish off runs,” Thiry said. “Any time you run for 290 (yards) against state-ranked opponent, you’re a bit surprised.”

With former head coaches Aaron Amundson (Prairie du Chien) and Kevin Campbell (Wauzeka) manning the defensive and offensive coordinator positions, respectively, Thiry said that everyone on the Blackhawks’ roster has a defined role and is held accountable for it.

“We talk about performing and doing our jobs,” Thiry said. “They all have been there and done that. It’s just, go out and do your business and do your work.”

Thiry is hoping that straightforward approach leads to continued success, but is well aware but nothing going forward is guaranteed, starting tonight against the Flying Arrows.

“We need to play solid defense and keep them off the field as much as possible, and maybe sneak a few big ones past them,” Thiry said. “As the season goes along and you keep winning, the bullseye on your back gets bigger.”