Prep football preview: Unbeaten records, playoff spots on the line in Week Nine
Four things to know
Playoff timeline: The WIAA will release its 224-team playoff field at about midnight Friday, and is expected to have each of the seven 32-team divisions further broken down into four groupings of eight teams each by 2 a.m. Saturday. The complete playoff brackets — with matchups for each game — will be posted at about noon Saturday. The first of five rounds of playoff games will begin Oct. 19, with the higher-seeded school as the host in most cases.
The pressure is on: Area teams that must win to clinch a playoff berth are Baraboo and Reedsburg (who meet Friday in Reedsburg), Stoughton (vs. Fort Atkinson), Madison La Follette (vs. Middleton), Watertown Luther Prep (at Lake Mills), Belleville (at Marshall), Beloit Turner (at East Troy), Wisconsin Dells (at Mauston), Adams-Friendship (vs. Nekoosa), Platteville (at River Valley), Lancaster (at Dodgeville), Pardeeville (vs. Markesan), and Randolph and Cambria-Friesland (who meet Friday at Cambria). … Most years, after all automatic qualifiers are placed in the field, there is room for a few teams that finished below .500 in their conferences (4-5 or 3-4) to get in, based on tie-breaking rules. Teams that must win to have an outside chance to qualify are Sauk Prairie, Milton, Monroe, Madison West, Brodhead/Juda, Walworth Big Foot and Rio.
Passing fancy: According to WisSports.net statewide statistical lists, built using data supplied by coaches, area quarterbacks are having a banner year. Those ranking in the top 10 in passing yardage are Mount Horeb/Barneveld’s Ethan Post (third, 1,883 yards); Mineral Point’s Isaac Lindsey (fifth, 1,817); Lake Mills’ Adam Moen (seventh, 1,805); and Watertown’s Ethan Pauly (10th, 1,752). Palmyra-Eagle’s Brandon Wilde ranks first with 2,172 yards and 24 touchdowns. In the rushing stats, East Troy’s Jake Dessart ranks first with 1,843 yards and 19 TDs, and Edgerton’s Jaden Johnson ranks sixth (1,544 yards, 20 TDs). Among top receivers are Mount Horeb/Barneveld’s Caden Lee (seventh, 821 yards) and Sun Prairie’s Cooper Nelson (ninth, 803 yards).
Relocations: Friday’s 7 p.m. Big Eight Conference game between Sun Prairie and Madison West will be played on the artificial turf at Breese Stevens Field, not at Mansfield Stadium. Also, Lakeside Lutheran’s game against Lodi has been relocated to Waunakee High School at 7 p.m. Friday.
Games of the week
Madison Memorial (7-1, 7-1 Big Eight) at Janesville Craig (6-2, 6-2), 7 p.m. Friday
A season-opening win over Sun Prairie and a Hail Mary victory over Middleton have helped to make this a potentially special season for Memorial under first-year coach Mike Harris. The Spartans have won twice since a Week 6 loss at Verona behind the passing of Jason Ceniti (1,222 yards, 17 TDs) and the rushing of Kam Marshall (924 yards, six TDs). Led by University of Wisconsin recruit Keeanu Benton on the line and running back Tressin Kussmaul (898 yards rushing, 11 TDs), Craig bounced back from a 42-7 loss at Middleton in Week 7 to beat Madison West 39-6 last week. With a win, Memorial would earn at least a share of its first Big Eight title since 2009.
Monona Grove (8-0, 6-0 Badger South) at Watertown (6-2, 5-1), 7 p.m. Friday
MG is in a familiar spot, unbeaten through Week 8 and assured of at least a tie for the Badger South title. But to complete the journey and clinch the outright crown, the Silver Eagles must beat a Watertown team that would tie for the title with a win. MG has averaged 39.9 points per game behind the passing of Jordan Bishop (1,333 yards) and its defense has given up only six touchdowns. Watertown QB Ethan Pauly is the 10th-ranked passer in the state with 1,752 yards and 14 touchdowns, and the Goslings have averaged 27.3 points a game.
Lakeside Lutheran (7-1, 4-0 Capitol North) vs. Lodi (7-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Waunakee
Coach Paul Bauer’s Warriors are hoping to finish a perfect run through the Capitol North season, reeling off five convincing wins after a 33-14 loss to reigning WIAA Division 5 state runner-up Hartland Lake Country Lutheran. Lakeside has scored at least 35 points in each of its victories. Lakeside’s opponent will be a ticked-off Lodi crew that lost its No. 1 state ranking among medium-sized schools with a 25-14 loss to Lake Mills last week. That ended a 22-game winning streak for the Blue Devils, the defending WIAA Division 4 state champions. Lake Mills had fallen to Lakeside the previous week, 41-13.
Games to watch
Baraboo (3-5, 3-3 Badger North) at Reedsburg (5-3, 3-3), 7 p.m. Friday
The winner of this game — the 131st meeting of the teams — is locked into a playoff spot; the loser must hope there are enough leftover openings for teams with 3-4 conference records that they make the tiebreaker cut. Reedsburg, plagued by turnovers for much of the season, snapped a two-game losing streak last week by beating Portage 49-13. Baraboo, which hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2006, has lost three of its last four against the top teams in the Badger North.
New Glarus/Monticello (4-4, 2-1 Capitol South) at Cambridge (8-0, 3-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Both teams are already in the playoffs, but the Glarner Knights can earn a tie for the South title if they can do what no other team has done this year: Beat the Blue Jays. Coach Jeff Eichelkraut’s team has won two of three after a run of four losses in five games. Mike Klingbeil’s unbeaten Blue Jays handed Marshall its first conference loss last week, 42-12, and another win would mean an unbeaten regular season, the outright league title and its first unbeaten regular season since 2004. Quarterback Riley Olson has thrown for 875 yards and 16 TDs.
Mauston (7-1, 4-0) at Wisconsin Dells (3-5, 2-2), 7 p.m. Friday
New coach Scott Flood’s Chiefs need a win to earn their first playoff berth since 2012. Leading the way will be Brett Hirst, who has thrown for 973 yards and nine TDs and rushed for 778 yards and 12 scores. But it’s a tall order, as Mauston has won five straight since a 24-14 loss to Lake Mills and has scored at least 31 points in each of those wins. Tyler Jirousek has rushed for 1,333 yards and 19 TDs Cade Hall has thrown for 1,187 yards and 14 scores.
— Art Kabelowsky