WIAA football playoffs preview: Big Eight survivor Sun Prairie takes on Sussex Hamilton in second round
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Big Eight bows out
Six teams from the Big Eight Conference qualified for the WIAA Division 1 playoff field. But only one, Sun Prairie, survived the first round last Friday. And because the Cardinals played fellow Big Eight member Middleton, a Big Eight team was guaranteed to advance. Sun Prairie won 42-36. This week, Sun Prairie (9-1) plays host to Sussex Hamilton (6-4), which won at Big Eight co-champion Madison Memorial 35-21 last week.
2017 finalists advance
Last year’s Division 1 runner-up, Sun Prairie (9-1), advanced to the second round, along with defending Division 2 champion Waunakee (10-0) and defending Division 4 champion Lodi (8-2). Lodi avenged a regular-season loss to Lake Mills with a 17-14 win, snapping a two-game losing streak.
With the required disclaimer that a look ahead at next weekend’s quarterfinal pairings is pure conjecture, here are some possibilities: In Division 1, if Sun Prairie can beat Sussex Hamilton, up next will be either top-ranked Fond du Lac or perennial power Hartland Arrowhead. … Badger North champion Waunakee could meet Badger South champion Monona Grove in a Division 3 quarterfinal battle of unbeatens … If Mount Horeb/Barneveld can beat Pewaukee this week, a matchup with perennial power Waukesha Catholic Memorial could await. … A possible Division 6 quarterfinal showdown could match unbeaten Cambridge with Mineral Point.
GAME OF THE WEEK
DeForest (8-2) atWaunakee (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday
After averaging 40 points in the first half of its regular-season games, Waunakee’s halftime lead against Baraboo in Friday’s playoff opener was a modest 7-0. Coach Pat Rice’s team eventually earned a 27-0 win to earn a Division 2 second-round rematch with a DeForest team that gave the Warriors their toughest regular-season test, a 31-7 finish in Week Four. In that meeting, Waunakee quarterback Jarrett Wulf completed 15 of 22 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for another score. On the year, Wulf has thrown for 1,835 yards (at an 82 percent completion rate) and 19 scores. DeForest quarterback Trey Schroeder scored a late touchdown last week to lift the Norskies over Mississippi Valley Conference champ Holmen, 35-28. Schroeder ran for 147 yards last week and has thrown for 1,044 yards and rushed for 539 on the year.
GAMES TO WATCH
Sussex Hamilton (6-4) atSun Prairie (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Playing much of the game without injured receiving leader Cooper Nelson, Sun Prairie needed a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Richie Gilles to Colin Schaefer to hold off Middleton in a Division 1 first-round game. Sun Prairie also got a boost from linebacker Adam Rademacher, who returned an interception for a touchdown and finished his team’s scoring with a safety. Gilles threw for 316 yards and two TDs and ran for another score (giving him 2,120 yards passing on the year), with Schaefer catching eight throws for 203 yards. It’s a safe bet that Sun Prairie spent extra time on kick return defense in practice this week, as Middleton returned two kickoffs for TDs. Sussex Hamilton raced to a 21-0 halftime lead over Madison Memorial last week, and took a 28-7 lead into the fourth quarter after four TD runs by University of Wisconsin recruit Jackson Kollath. Memorial cut the lead to 28-21 in the late going, but Hamilton added a clinching TD. Kollath rushed for 268 yards, giving him 683 yards in seven games.
La Crosse Central (8-2) atMonona Grove (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Monona Grove, the 2013 Division 3 state champ and 2016 Division 2 runner-up, has outscored its opponents by an average of 39.1 to 6.4 points per game, and outgained them by an average of 405 yards to 144 yards per game. Aside from a 21-7 win over Oregon in Week 3, the Silver Eagles have won each game by at least 30 points, as Jordan Bishop has thrown for 1,778 yards and 22 touchdowns, and Brady Killerlain and Jalen Ostrowsky have combined for 1,188 yards rushing and 13 scores. Senior linebacker Trenton Herber (76 tackles) and the MG defense will be tested by the Central offense, which wiped out a 17-7 halftime deficit to beat Oregon, 26-23, in a Division 2 opener last week. Quarterback Johnny Davis ranks second in the state with 2,278 yards passing, leads the team with 537 yards rushing and has thrown for 21 TDs and rushed for 11 more.
Watertown (7-3) atMequon Homestead (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday
The Goslings’ Ethan Pauly ranks third on the state passing yardage list with 2,278 yards, producing 21 TDs. He was a monster last week, throwing only 12 passes in a Division 2 opener against Whitefish Bay — but completing 10 of them for 361 yards and six touchdowns in a 47-7 victory. That win snapped a two-game losing streak that cost the Goslings a shot at the Badger South title. Veteran coach Dave Keel’s run-oriented Highlanders built an unbeaten regular season, including a 42-20 win over Bay, and have produced 42.3 points and 332 yards per game while allowing 14.5 points and 187 yards per game. Running backs Willie Garrison and Jared Schneider have combined for 1,348 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
Pewaukee (7-3) atMount Horeb/Barneveld (8-2), 7 p.m. Friday
The Vikings are the only area representative still in the Division 3 hunt, thanks to a late touchdown pass from Ethan Post to Malcolm Reed for a 17-14 win over Berlin last week. Post threw for 200 yards and also ran for a score, giving him 2,189 yards passing with 25 TDs on the season. Running back Malik Winston has 1,000 yards rushing and 15 scores. Mount Horeb’s foe is a No. 7-seeded Pewaukee team that scored 15 unanswered points in the second half last week to oust previously unbeaten McFarland, 22-21. The Pirates have thrown only 91 passes all season, producing 82 percent of their yardage (233 of 283 per game) on the ground. Josh Geisel has rushed for 938 yards, including the winning two-point conversion against McFarland.
Lodi (8-2) atEdgerton (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Coach Dave Puls got the Blue Devils’ ship righted just in time to avoid a three-game losing streak and a first-round Division 4 playoff ouster, thanks to a late charge to a 17-14 win at Lake Mills. Splitting time at quarterback were Quinn Faust and Zach Potter (who was sacked three times). Faust threw a 28-yard TD pass to Riley Faust to put the Blue Devils up for keeps. Colton Nicolay and Austin Soehle have combined for 1,266 yards rushing and 15 TDs, and Soehle leads the defense with 60 stops. Edgerton rolled past Wautoma last week, 42-18, and is averaging 37.1 points and 439 yards of offense per game — 336 of them on the ground. Quarterback Jaden Johnson has passed for 917 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 1,705 yards and 22 scores. Devin Jorgenson has 1,443 yards rushing and 19 TDs.
River Valley (8-2) atLakeside Lutheran (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Coach Paul Bauer’s Warriors have grown stronger as the year has gone on, winning seven straight after a 33-14 loss to Hartland Lake Country Lutheran in Week 3. Lakeside has scored at least 35 points in each victory while allowing less than 10 points per game in its wins. Quarterback Jack Monis is a threat to throw or run, and Casey Ponyicsanyi and Brevin Jegerhlehner have combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. River Valley handled South Central Conference champ Mauston in a Division 4 opener last week, 27-7, getting two touchdown runs from Shane Liegel (621 yards, 10 TDs on the year). Quarterback Will Bailey has thrown for 1,523 yards and 17 TDs.
New Glarus/Monticello (5-5) atHoricon/Hustisford (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday
The Glarner Knights pulled off an impressive Division 5 victory this week, ousting Southwest Wisconsin Conference champ Prairie du Chien, 28-24, on a late 36-yard TD pass from Connor Siegenthaler to Darris Schuett. Siegenthaler threw for 225 yards in the win, giving him 1,194 yards on the year. Trailways Large Conference champ Horicon/Hustisford took care of Belleville last week, 21-0, winning its seventh straight after a 30-13 loss to Cambridge. Dylan Schmitt has thrown for 955 yards and 15 touchdowns, and C.J. Brooks has rushed for 941 yards and 12 scores.
Markesan (8-2) atCambridge (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Coach Mike Klingbeil’s Blue Jays have torn an impressive swath through the area so far, scoring 30 or more points in eight games and never allowing more than 19 in a game. Riley Olson has passed for 1,037 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Rudy Hommen has 721 yards rushing and 12 TDs. Senior defensive lineman Kaden Grieser has 150 tackles, 14 for loss. Markesan won its fourth straight, beating Trailways Small co-champ Oshkosh Lourdes, 34-14, in a Division 6 opener last week. The Hornets lost in Week 6 to Horicon/Hustisford, 40-2, and Cambridge beat Horicon/Hustisford by a 30-13 count. Tyler Lawson has rushed for 714 yards for Markesan.
Racine Lutheran (8-2) atMineral Point (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday
The SWAL champion Pointers rolled past Ozaukee in their Division 6 opener last week, 55-28, as quarterback Isaac Lindsey ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 111 yards and a score. On the year, Lindsey has thrown for 2,120 yards and 26 TDs, and he leads the team with 593 yards rushing. Racine Lutheran’s Nolan Kraus blocked a potential game-tying extra-point kick late in the fourth quarter, the team’s second blocked PAT of the game, to give his team a 20-19 victory over Pecatonica/Argyle. Lutheran’s Tyler Tenner ran 74 yards for Lutheran’s go-ahead score after returning a punt 70 yards for a third-quarter TD.
Benton/Scales Mound (7-3) atJohnson Creek (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Johnson Creek broke a seven-game playoff losing streak dating back to 2007 by beating Cambria-Friesland, 22-6, in a Division 7 opener last week, and a win Friday would make this only the second Bluejays team ever to win two postseason games (the other was in 1997). The Bluejays’ only blemish was a wild, 42-41 loss to Oshkosh Lourdes three weeks ago. Creek has averaged 49.8 points and 425 yards of offense per game, led by quarterback Justin Swanson (1,330 yards passing, 16 TDs; 680 yards rushing, 10 scores) and Anthony Purpi 9973 yards rushing, 15 TDs). The Zephyrs eliminated Fall River last week, 35-7, to stretch their winning streak to five. Wyatt Bastian has thrown for 1,698 yards and 16 TDs, and Nick Jansen has 841 yards rushing and 18 scores.