There were a ton of changes heading into this season for the Hinton Blackhawks. A new coach, a new offense, new players, but one thing remained the same: the defense.
“The defense is pretty simple, since we’ve been running it since I was a freshman, and years before that,” said Blackhawks senior defensive end Tanner Eilts. “So we’ve been all saying if you know your playbook, you know what you’re doing out there.”
With the defense staying the same, it was expected to be the strength of the team. But after a 1-2 start, and the loss of senior middle linebacker Tate Kounkel, along with senior defensive end Gabe Clark, the Blackhawks knew they needed to come together to make something happen.
“We’ve had young guys step up,” said Blackhawks defensive coordinator Cale Kramer. “We’ve got guys out of position, their normal positions, they’ve done a really good job. They’ve just brought a can do attitude everyday to work.”
“Just because we lost one, doesn’t mean we all have to give up,” said senior linebacker Teegan Tschampel. “We’ve still got to keep going, and produce shutouts.”
A big part of the turn around was the leadership of senior linebacker Teegan Tschampel, who took over at middle linebacker in Kounkel’s absence, and has seen the defense thrive since the move.
“I’d say for most people that would be a pretty tough job,” said Blackhawks head coach Kadrian Hardersen. “That would be a big job for most kids. But Teegan, for the past two or three years has really become a student of the game. He’s become one of those kids that you can coach on every single play, really coach him up, and he just gets it.”
“He’s a real leader,” said Eilts. “He’s just got passion for the game. and he’s got great leadership skills that brings everyone to him. He shows it on the practice fields, he shows it on the sidelines at the games, you can just see it.”
Something Teegan also brings to the practice field is his practice jersey, which looks a bit beat up, and different than anyone else’s, because it is.
“This was my dad’s from when he was in high school,” said Tschampel. “I mean just to keep his number going, and that’s why I wear it on the field, and just keep it going. I mean he was a very good ball player, and to be his son going out there, it means a lot.”
Tschampel’s efforts this season has led the Blackhawks to be one of the top defenses in Class A. The question now, is can they keep their streak of shutouts going heading into state.