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Prep football preview: Middleton plays at Verona in important early Big Eight test

August 22, 2018

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Honoring first responders: Friday will be a special night at Sun Prairie. When the Cardinals take on Beloit Memorial at 7 p.m., the school will pull out the stops to honor the first responders who battled the aftermath of the massive gas-leak explosion that destroyed or damaged much of downtown Sun Prairie on July 10. The football team will wear special “Sun Prairie Strong” uniforms, some of which will be auctioned off to benefit the Sun Prairie relief fund and the family of Cory Barr, a Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department captain who was killed in the blast. There will be no admission charge.

Starting fast: The Rock Valley Conference has a closed schedule, with nine weeks of conference games and no non-conference play. In Week One, the five Rock Valley games produced an average of 51 points each, with three winning teams scoring 56 or 57 points. One exception brought down the average: East Troy shut out Clinton, 20-0. There were eye-popping individual performances, too: McFarland’s Derek Schwarting threw for 305 yards and five touchdowns in a 57-34 win over Edgerton, and Jefferson’s Nolan Klawitter ran for 259 yards and four TDs in a 57-25 win over Walworth Big Foot.

It’s wide open: Madison Memorial impressed with a 25-point second half in a 32-26 win over reigning WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Sun Prairie last week. But in a nine-game conference race, Friday’s outcome does not mean Memorial is the new favorite in the Big Eight — nor does it mean Sun Prairie is out of the running. Memorial faces a Week Two test against Madison La Follette, and more of the puzzle could be solved when two other perennial favorites, Middleton and Verona, square off.

GAME OF THE WEEK

(All games 7 p.m. Friday)

Middleton (1-0) at Verona (1-0)

Both teams were impressive in their opening victories, as Verona stormed to a 40-2 victory over Janesville Parker and Middleton opened a 44-0 halftime lead on its way to a 50-0 win over Madison East. That gives the Wildcats and Cardinals the league’s two best offenses and two best defenses heading into their early showdown. Middleton’s Kallion Buckner rushed for 146 yards and three scores on only 11 carries against East, and Verona’s Adam Bekx passed for 174 yards and two scores against Parker.

GAMES TO WATCH

Madison La Follette (1-0) at Madison Memorial (1-0)

Call this one the unofficial “Michael Harris Bowl,” as the first-year Memorial coach’s new team takes on the last team he coached, the Lancers. La Follette won a hard-fought opening test against Madison West, scoring all its points after halftime in a 19-14 win over visiting Madison West as Kayvion James-Ragland ran for 165 yards and Ben Probst threw for three TDs. Memorial’s 25-point second half against Sun Prairie was keyed by quarterback Jason Ceniti, who threw for 161 yards and two TDs, and the Spartans have the benefit of a second consecutive home game.

Oregon (1-0) at Mount Horeb/Barneveld (1-0)

Both teams are coming off impressive opening victories, making this a major Badger Conference crossover test before actual divisional play begins next week. Mount Horeb/Barneveld welcomed new coach Bret St. Arnauld with a 50-20 win over Madison Edgewood, as Ethan Post completed 14 of 19 passes for 233 yards and four scores and ran for another, and Malik Winston ran for 95 yards and two TDs. Oregon’s defense was dominant in a 17-7 victory over DeForest, and Dylan DiMaggio rushed for 149 yards.

Watertown (1-0) at Waunakee (1-0)

The non-conference portion of the Badger Conference season closes with this crossover game. Waunakee, the defending WIAA Division 2 state champ, got four touchdown runs from Will Ross as it rolled to a 66-0 victory over Fort Atkinson last week. Watertown scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Beaver Dam, 20-7, as Brian Katzenberger ran for 151 yards and Ethan Pauly threw for 160 yards.

Jefferson (1-0, 1-0) vs. McFarland (1-0, 1-0) at Madison La Follette

After leaving burn marks on the field with high-powered Week One victories, the Eagles and Spartans meet in an important early Rock Valley clash that has been relocated to La Follette High School because McFarland’s field remains under construction. The statistics are both impressive and eerie: Both teams scored 57 points in Week One victories that saw McFarland produce 532 yards of offense and Jefferson produce 536.

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