VIROQUA — Viroqua High School junior Tyler “Truck” Hannah isn’t afraid to talk about his goals — individual or team — for the upcoming season.
Hannah, the leading returning rusher and tackler for the Blackhawks, hopes to run for more than 2,000 yards in a challenging Coulee Conference. That’s a lofty goal for any team, but Hannah believes its possible despite playing for a team that went 4-5 last year and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004.
“That’s going to change,” Hannah said. “We expect everything out of one another. We all love each other.”
Hannah rushed for 1,069 yards last season, which was the second-best on the team, trailing only his brother Ryan Hannah (1,155).
“I have to carry the pill,” Hannah said. “I’ve been doing a lot of work this offseason doing what I can with my feet and learning how to run. I have to continue to push myself.”
With Ryan Hannah graduated, it’s up to Truck Hannah to create some holes to attain his goals. Or, simply burst through them, as all but one of his offensive linemen — Steve Diehl — return.
“I think that line will even be better,” said Blackhawks coach Bill Hannah, who said he has 40 players on the varsity roster. “Tyler was fortunate to have had a 1,000-yard season last season.”
Other running backs who will share carries with Truck Hannah include Andrew Wedwick, Sam Jett and Zach Lohr.
Tyler Hannah and the rest of the running backs should have some help this season from the passing game.
Ryan Hannah was the quarterback, but he ran more than passed. As Coach Hannah affectionately put it: “Ryan couldn’t throw the ball to save his soul.”
Viroqua attempted 72 passes last season, but completed just 28. Hannah was 9 of 26, while senior Kasey Hammond was 2-for-2.
Hammond won’t be given the keys to the offense yet, however.
Coach Hannah has a competition going between Hammond and junior Drew Fortney. Fortney has not attempted a pass at the varsity level.
“Competition brings out the best in guys; that’s what we’re looking for,” Coach Hannah said. “Whichever one gets the (starting) nod, I’m confident the next one will get plays in there, too.”
No matter who gets the thumbs-up, the Blackhawks are spreading things out more and will seek to put the ball in the air more often.
Coach Hannah says the offense will turn to the short passing game and hopefully, it’ll get the opponent out of the box.
“I think it’ll help our team more so we don’t have to rely on the ground-and-pound attack,” Hammond said. “It’ll help get our offense get moving better. It’s going to be fun.”
Secondary faces challenge
Toward the end of last season, Coach Hannah wanted to have his corrnerbacks and safeties play more in 1-on-1 coverage rather than zone.
The players liked it, so it stayed in the playbook. That idea will return to start this season.
The Blackhawks allowed 8.1 yards per completion last year, but the defense tallied seven interceptions.
Wedwick — who played at the cornerback spot for the first time last season — prefers playing in man coverage.
“I like it so I don’t have to worry about going into someone else’s zone; I take it on myself,” Wedwick said. “I think we’re good at it and it’ll help the team.”
Expect Viroqua to bring more pressure defensively, too, which would in turn help the secondary.
“We have athletes on the edge,” Coach Hannah said. “Our safeties will come down hill and tackle some people. We lost one linebacker last year. We may not have big numbers, but the depth that we have, this group is amazing.”