Prep football preview: Reedsburg gets to take its shot at the Waunakee juggernaut
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Playoff update: With three games left in the regular season, the playoff picture is on the cusp of solidifying. Three teams each in the Big Eight (Janesville Craig, Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie) and Rock Valley (East Troy, Edgerton and McFarland) already have locked in guaranteed playoff berths, and two more in each league (Middleton and Verona in the Big Eight; Beloit Turner and Jefferson in the Rock) can lock in spots with wins on Friday. Johnson Creek also locked up a spot at the table with last week’s 14-6 win over previously unbeaten Fall River. Additional teams in the Badger North and South, Capitol North, Southwest Wisconsin, SWAL and Trailways Large and Small can lock in spots on Friday.
Waunakee, fully reloaded: Here’s a thought on just how good the Waunakee football program is: The WIAA Division 2 state champion Warriors’ graduation losses include a quarterback (Nate Carter) who is now with the University of Wisconsin, and a pair of running backs now at Boston College and New Mexico (Javian Dayne and L.O. Johnson). So this is a rebuilding year? Not at all. Through six games, the Waunakee offense is averaging 50.1 points per game and the defense has given up only three touchdowns in total. Breaking it down further: Waunakee’s offense scored 50 percent more points in the first quarter of its first game (30) than the defense has allowed all season (20).
Haves and have-nots: In the Capitol North Conference, it’s either feast or famine this season. Three of the league’s six teams are off to 2-0 starts in conference play, which means the other three teams all stand at 0-2. With a five-game conference season, the winner of Friday’s game between co-leaders Lake Mills and Lakeside Lutheran will clinch a certain playoff berth, and Lodi can do the same with a win at Poynette. On the other hand, one more loss for Poynette, Columbus and/or Watertown Luther Prep would all but guarantee those teams will not make the WIAA postseason.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Reedsburg (4-2, 2-2 Badger North)at Waunakee (6-0, 4-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Reedsburg thought it had found an answer two weeks back, when coach Bryan Pottinger abandoned the pistol offense to return to his tried-and-true flex-bone attack. But last week, Mount Horeb/Barneveld rolled to a 57-32 win over the Beavers, as Reedsburg’s recent turnover woes returned (four fumbles lost) and the Vikings passed for more than 200 yards and three scores. A loss on Friday would force the Beavers to win their final two games, at Portage and at home against Baraboo, to lock in a playoff berth. Coach Pat Rice’s Warriors have simply torn the Badger Conference to shreds so far, averaging 50.1 points per game, and have given up only three touchdowns all season. After this week’s test, the Warriors’ remaining regular-season games are against opponents with overall losing records (Baraboo and Beaver Dam).
GAMES TO WATCH
Janesville Craig (5-1, 5-1 Big Eight)at Middleton (4-2, 4-2), 7 p.m. Friday
The host Cardinals can clinch a playoff berth with a win, while knocking Janesville Craig out of its current three-way tie for first place in the Big Eight (with Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie). Craig clinched its playoff berth last week with a 34-6 win over Madison East, the Cougars’ second straight win after a 49-0 thumping at the hands of Sun Prairie. Tressin Kussmaul has run for 706 yards and nine TDs for the Cougars. Middleton won its second straight game last week, 46-0 over Janesville Parker, and has gotten 740 yards rushing and 10 TDs from Kallion Buckner.
Verona (4-2, 4-2 Big Eight)at Madison La Follette (3-3, 3-3), 7 p.m. Friday
Verona can lock in its playoff eligibility with a win, and is soaring after handing Madison Memorial its first loss last week, 28-10. Wildcats quarterback Adam Bekx already has thrown for 1,029 yards and five TDs, with a 61.5-percent completion rate. La Follette comes in hungry after back-to-back losses to Janesville Craig (17-10) and Sun Prairie (50-6). The Lancers played last week without standout running back Kayvion James-Ragland for reasons the La Follette staff declined to disclose.
Watertown (5-1, 4-0 Badger South)at Stoughton (5-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Stoughton was flying high through its first five games, but received a wake-up kick to the teeth at Oregon last week, falling 35-10. Now, with the Goslings and unbeaten Monona Grove as the next two teams on the Vikings’ dance card, things have gotten serious. Quarterback Adam Hobson has thrown for 794 yards and 10 TDs and leads Stoughton in rushing with 567 yards and four scores. Watertown’s Ethan Pauly has passed for 1,198 yards and eight TDs.
Cambridge (6-0, 1-0 Capitol South)at Belleville (5-1, 1-1), 7 p.m. Friday
In the five-team Cap South, it takes three conference wins to lock in a playoff berth, so while Friday’s showdown won’t be the tipping point, it will give a huge advantage to the winner. Denver Evans, quarterback for the unbeaten Blue Jays, has thrown for 1,035 yards and 15 touchdowns at a 69.3-percent completion rate, and Riley Olson has rushed for 633 yards and nine scores. Belleville’s Nate Mabis has thrown for 814 yards and eight scores and rushed for 265 yards and five TDs.
Lake Mills (5-1, 2-0 Capitol North)at Lakeside Lutheran (5-1, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Despite the graduation loss of offensive triple threat Ben Dunkleberger, the L-Cats have settled into their new look with talented sophomore Adam Moen under center. After an opening 33-7 loss at Menomonie, the L-Cats have averaged almost 34 points per game, and Moen already has thrown for 1,502 yards and 20 touchdowns (11 in the last two games). Lakeside looked solid all-around in last week’s 41-13 win over Watertown Luther Prep, and has built success around a balanced offensive attack.
Edgerton (5-1, 5-1 Rock Valley)at East Troy (5-1, 5-1), 7 p.m. Friday
The scoreboard operator had better join the team for pre-game calisthenics, because the action might provide a workout. East Troy won last year’s meeting by a score of 64-52, and neither team has slowed down on offense this year — the Crimson Tide average 36 points per game and the Trojans average 35. Both teams feature multiple-threat quarterbacks: East Troy’s Jake Dessart averages 9.1 yards per rush and has 1,543 yards rushing and 17 TDs, and Edgerton’s Jaden Johnson has rushed for 1,092 yards and 14 TDs. The Crimson Tide impressed last week in a 52-16 romp over Beloit Turner.
Jefferson (4-2, 4-2 Rock Valley)at Beloit Turner (4-2, 4-2), 7 p.m. Friday
The winner clinches a certain playoff berth and remains just one game off the first-place pace in the Rock Valley. Eagles running back Nolan Klawitter missed last week’s win over Clinton after carrying only three times in the previous week’s loss to Edgerton.