The Viroqua High School football team has shown solid improvement over the last four seasons under the direction of head coach Bill Hannah. The Blackhawks won just one game in each of Hannah’s first two seasons in 2014 and 2015, then improved to 3-6 last season and 4-5 in the 2017 campaign.
The positive strides have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the Coulee Conference coaches, as the Blackhawks landed five players on the All-Coulee Conference team, including four as two-way players.
Seniors Trent Berg and Ryan Hannah led the honorees being named on the first team offense and defense. Sophomore Tyler “Truck” Hannah earned all-Coulee first team honors as a linebacker and second team running back. Christian Schneider and Steve Diehl were named to the second team, Schneider as a two-way player on the offensive and defensive lines and Diehl as a defensive linebacker.
Berg anchored both the offensive and defensive lines for the Blackhawks, registering 29 tackles (25 solos), four of those were tackles for loss (TFL), and also recorded a sack and a pair of forced fumbles. The 5-foot-10-inch 215-pounder also grabbed an interception for good measure and seemed to enjoy bowling over a few Black River Falls Tigers on his way to an 11-yard return on the play. Berg was a key contributor on the Hawks’ offensive line which did not allow a sack all season.
Ryan Hannah capped off a three-year career for the Blackhawks with his selection as first team All-Coulee quarterback and defensive back. Hannah led the Blackhawks in nearly every offensive category, including rushing with 1,155 yards on 161 carries (7.2 yards per rush), rushing touchdowns with 17 and passing, completing 26 of 69 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns, without throwing an interception. Hannah did his fair share of damage on the defensive side of the ball as well, leading the Hawks defensive secondary with three interceptions, snaring three fumble recoveries and was second on the team in tackles with 49.5, including 45 solos and 4.5 TFL’s. At 6-foot-even and 155 pounds, Hannah also handled the punt-return and punt kicking duties for VHS, averaging 30.7 yards per kick.
Ryan’s younger brother, Tyler Hannah, earned his spot on the first team all-Coulee defensive squad leading the Blackhawks with 56 tackles, including 51 solos and also a team high 10.5 TFL’s, grabbed an interception and added a pair of fumble recoveries. Truck, at 5-foot-10-inches and 190 pounds, proved hard for enemy defenders to bring to the ground rushing for 1,069 yards on an even 200 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. The younger Hannah also handled the kick-off and extra point duties for the Blackhawks.
Schneider was another member of the offensive line that kept Blackhawk quarterbacks upright all season and paved the way for the pair of 1,000-yard rushers, was also a main cog in the Blackhawk defense. The 6-foot 200-pound junior lineman was credited with 24.5 tackles this season (20 solos) and spent a lot of time in the opposing teams’ backfield, recording 7.5 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks totaling 20 yards in losses, also recovered a fumble.
Diehl earned his spot on the second team all-Coulee defensive unit as a sure tackling linebacker, finishing the season third on the Blackhawks in tackles with 48.5 (45 solos), including eight TFL’s, a sack and a team leading five fumble recoveries. Diehl, a 5-foot-10-inch 190-pounder, was the team’s third leading rusher with 210 yards on 46 carries and three touchdowns and also returned 13 kickoffs for 274 yards.
As a team, the Blackhawks’ defense was dominating at times, especially late in the season, recording 56 tackles for loss, 15 sacks (while not allowing a sack), recovering 18 defensive fumbles and intercepting eight enemy passes.
Ryan Hannah, Diehl, Berg, Brendan Ellefson and Brett Skrede, the only seniors on the roster this season, served as team captains during the 2017 campaign.
“We really came together as the season progressed…we had a great group of seniors that led our younger players,” coach Hannah said.
“We will not be able to replace these guys. I told last year’s seniors (2017 graduates) that they turned the corner for our program…now this group has got us heading down the road. It is up to next year’s players to pick up where these guys left off and continue to improve.”