1. Verona, 2. Middleton, 3. Madison West, 4. Sun Prairie, 5. Madison Memorial, 6. Madison East, 7. Beloit Memorial, 8. McFarland, 9. Oregon, 10. Mount Horeb, 11. DeForest; 12. Belleville/New Glarus, 13. Sauk Prairie.
Players to watch
Kyle Hagerman, sr., forward, Sun Prairie: Hagerman, a Butler University recruit, was on the coaches’ all-state team, was a first-team all-Big Eight Conference selection and was a first-team Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area choice in 2017.
Caleb Blair, sr., midfielder, McFarland: Blair was on the coaches’ all-state team, was a first-team Rock Valley Conference pick and the league player of the year and was a first-team All-Area choice.
Evan Carlson, jr., midfielder, Sauk Prairie: Carlson was a first-team all-Badger North Conference pick and was second team All-Area choice in 2017.
Josh Kerr, so., midfielder, River Valley: Kerr was a first-team SWC pick and the conference player of the year, plus a second-team All-Area choice in 2017.
Jacob Chambers, sr., defender, DeForest: Chambers was a first-team all-Badger North selection and a second team All-Area choice in 2017.
Sam Lynch, jr., defender, Verona: Lynch was a first-team all-Big Eight choice in 2017 who will lead one of the preseason favorites in league play this year.
Austin Westra, sr., goalkeeper, DeForest: Westra was a first-team pick in the Badger North and an honorable-mention All-Area selection.
Alex Alvarado, sr., goalkeeper, Madison West: Alvarado was a second-team all-Big Eight selection who helped the Regents reach the WIAA Division 1 state tournament last year.
Josh Cervantes, jr., forward, Madison East: Cervantes was a second-team all-Big Eight forward while helping the Purgolders to the league title last year.
Colin McCombs, sr., midfielder, Oregon: McCombs was a first-team all-Badger South Conference pick as a midfielder and was an honorable-mention All-Area choice last season.
Connor DeLorme, sr., defender, Belleville/New Glarus: DeLorme was a first-team selection in the Capitol Conference and an honorable-mention All-Area pick in 2017.
Ross Harford, sr., defender, Monona Grove: Harford was a first-team all-Badger South selection and received honorable mention All-Area recognition in 2017, while helping the Silver Eagles to the league title.
Alex Lawrence, sr., midfielder, Watertown Luther Prep: Lawrence was a first-team selection in the Capitol Conference and an honorable-mention All-Area pick last year.
Bryan Reynosa, sr., midfielder, Monona Grove: Reynosa was a first-team pick in the Badger South and an honorable-mention All-Area selection last year.
Greg Pauly, sr., midfielder, Middleton: The Cardinals will look toward Pauly, an honorable-mention all-Big Eight performer, to fill the void left by graduated standouts Derek Waleffe and Drake Vandermause.
Four things to watch
Big Eight battle: Verona, Middleton and Madison West (which advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament last year) are the coaches’ favorites in the conference. Sun Prairie will be the wild card due to a new coach, Tok Kim, and new system.
Defending champs: Mount Horeb won the Badger North Conference and the WIAA Division 3 state title last year and began this season with a 16-game winning streak. But the Vikings, facing a difficult schedule, were off to a slow start – losing to Pewaukee, Whitefish Bay, Madison Memorial and Verona in their first four matches.
Keep an eye on: Senior midfielder Caleb Blair is one of the top players in the area and has been a dominant player in the Rock Valley for McFarland, which figures to be a force in the Rock Valley this season.
Great expectations: Oregon reached the WIAA Division 2 state championship game in 2017 and, after making switch at head coach, hopes to contend for another state berth. It’s expected to be another tight race in the Badger South Conference, with Oregon seeking to upend defending champion Monona Grove.
BASED ON INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY COACHES
Verona: Verona comes off a 15-4-1 season, including 7-1-1 in conference, and coach Chris Handrick believes the Wildcats will contend for the league title with 13 letter winners returning. Handrick will count on midfielders Eliot Popkewitz and Sam Abreu, defender Sam Lynch, striker Bennett Luttinen and goalkeeper George Ohm. Also expected to contribute are Mason Jordan, Andres Rios-Vivian and Gannon Simonett.
Middleton: Middleton coach Ben Kollasch believes the Cardinals, who fell to Madison West in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final and need to replace Derek Waleffe and Drake Vandermause, could be more dangerous because they have talent at every position. Senior midfielder Bryce Schuster, senior midfielder Greg Pauly (five goals, 12 assists in 2017) and junior defender/midfielder Peter Tuttle, senior goalie Ben Scher, senior forward Andrew Lund (nine goals, seven assist) and senior defender/midfielder Simon Sisk (two goals, seven assists) will be key figures for Middleton.
Madison West: Madison West reached the WIAA Division 1 state tournament semifinals, losing in overtime to eventual champion Milwaukee Marquette. The Regents lost 14 letter winners from that team, but 11 letter winners return for second-year coach Drew Kornish. Senior goalkeeper Alex Alvarado, senior midfielder Will Taylor and junior midfielder Tonio Ermakoff will lead the Regents. Max Peeler and Ian Shi also are expected to contribute.
Sun Prairie: Senior striker Kyle Hagerman, a prolific scorer, returns to lead the Cardinals. Sun Prairie is learning the Spanish tiki-taka short-passing system under new coach Tok Kim, who led Waunakee to the WIAA Division 2 state title in 1999. Senior midfielders Bubacarr Bah, Sam Kopotic and Andrew Weddle and senior defender Andrew Shanahan figure to be significant contributors for Sun Prairie, which has 14 letter winners returning from a team that advanced to the WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinals a year ago.
Madison Memorial: Chad Amini, who replaced Ben Voss, begins his first season as Madison Memorial’s coach and hopes the Spartans can make a push for a top-four finish in league play after a sub-.500 season last year. Seniors Max Walters and Cole Bell, both team captains, are expected to lead the way for the Spartans, who were off to a good start this season.
Madison East: Kyle Koenig takes over as Madison East’s coach, following the Purgolders’ 14-5-1 season last year that included an 8-0-1 Big Eight mark that left Madison East atop the standings. It was the first conference crown for the Purgolders since 1991. Koenig will have to rebuild, considering nine starters and 13 letter winners are gone. Two of the team’s top scorers, Josh Cervantes and Samuka Torre, return, while junior Robbie Paredes will anchor the back line. Cervantes and Parades were second-team all-conference performers last year.
Beloit Memorial: Brothers Victor Munoz, a senior who anchors the defense, and Omar Munoz, a sophomore center midfielder, highlight the Beloit Memorial side, which lost 14 seniors and 17 letter winners overall after advancing to the WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal round. Senior Dennis Aragon and sophomore David Almanza will split time as goalkeepers for 10th-year coach Brian Denu, who will rely on underclassmen and is excited about junior Brian Delatorre’s scoring ability. Denu also is fired-up about the future due to a growing youth program.
Madison La Follette, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker will look to challenge.
Mount Horeb: The Vikings won the Badger North — the eighth consecutive year Mount Horeb has at least claimed a share of the conference crown, coach Mark Newman said — and earned the WIAA Division 3 state title for the third time. Fourteen letter winners and a strong core in midfield, defense and goal return, but Mount Horeb lost the majority of its scoring and must replace the graduated Jaden Neumann. Newman, in his 21st season, believes it may take time for his team to reach its stride. Starters returning include senior midfielder Caleb Guenther, sophomore midfielder Tyler Banfield, senior defender Tommy Winkler, senior defender Reid Fargo and senior goalkeeper Ben Leis. Guenther will be asked to contribute more offensively and junior George Schultz will play central defense alongside Winkler.
DeForest: Norskies second-year coach Kevin Krivacek is optimistic about his side, which returns seven starters and 13 letter winners after finishing 12-4-4 last year. Krivacek believes the Norskies have one of the top goalkeepers in the area and possibly the state in senior Austin Westra, who leads a stout defense also featuring center back Chris Kennedy. Jacob Chambers and Josh Hatch organize the midfield, while Travis Nelson, Ryan Switzky and Drew Ciesielczyk lead the attack.
Sauk Prairie: After finishing second in league play and reaching the WIAA Division 2 sectional final for the first time since 2010, Sauk Prairie returns seven starters and hopes to again contend for the conference crown. Senior captain Max Wilkinson takes charge in the midfield for coach Trevor Van Laanen’s team, while junior Evan Carlson had 16 goals and seven assists last year. Goalkeeper Riley Jelinek returns, while newcomer Sam Drescher could have an impact as a freshman.
Waunakee: Dave Kettner takes over as coach at Waunakee, which returns 15 varsity players, and believes the Warriors can challenge for the conference crown. The Warriors have 14 seniors, including 11 returning. The team will be led by Brennen Miller, Cole Fetters, Jacob Mouille and Hudson Miller.
Reedsburg: Midfielders Will Fuhrmann and Ismael Olivares lead Reedsburg, which also has many attackers returning but lost its entire defensive line to graduation. Anthony Paskey and Kip Cunningham also figure to contribute for coach David Fitzpatrick’s team, which has 11 letter winners back.
Beaver Dam, Baraboo and Portage/Poynette will seek to be in the mix.
Oregon: Chris Mitchell and Kevin May switched places at Oregon, with Mitchell taking over as head coach and May as top assistant. The Panthers finished 16-5-4 and as WIAA Division 2 state runners-up last season, falling to Whitefish Bay in the final. Oregon has 11 letter winners returning, including its entire midfield. Mitchell hopes the Panthers can win the conference this season, after finishing second (5-2-0) to Monona Grove last year, and again make a run at the state title. Returning starters include Colin McCombs, Madison Conduah, Duncan Morgan, Johnny Coughlin, Carter Hendrickson, Nick Borden, Colin Bjerke and Zach Bennett.
Monona Grove: After finishing 6-0-1 and winning the conference last season, Monona Grove returns 12 letter winners and six starters and coach Randy Becker believes the Silver Eagles should be able to push Oregon for the title this season. Seniors Bryan Reynosa, Ross Harford and Jacob Van Veghel and juniors Isaac Becker and Daniel Grady are expected to lead the team, while seniors Kyle Poels and Hunter Haase and juniors Benjamin Moen and Zachary Zielke also should be key contributors. Monona Grove fell to Oregon in the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinals in 2017.
Madison Edgewood: Crusaders coach Chris Martinelli believes his team can make a push into the upper tier of the conference due to its experience. He will count on top returning players Brandon Rothwell, Zach Madson, J.J. Illgen, Nick Stacey and Nick Bergmann. Edgewood will have to replace the graduated Connor Cruz, last year’s leading scorer.
Stoughton: Michael McIntosh replaces longtime coach Dave Wermuth. David Tessier, a senior captain, and Ethan Wright, another senior captain, lead the Vikings. McIntosh has 11 letter winners returning and also expects to rely on goalkeeper Nolan Meyer, Jason Johnson, Matthew Leikness, Noaj Mahieu and Matthew Gille.
Monroe: Kyle Kasten, the Monroe girls soccer coach, takes over as the Cheesemakers’ boys coach, replacing Tony Vasquez. Kasten foresees the Cheesemakers improving behind the play of goalkeeper Devan Schulte, Daniel Lapp, Aaron Ziolkowski and Jahir Valentine.
Watertown, Milton and Fort Atkinson will look to contend.
Belleville/New Glarus: Sugar River has 13 letter winners returning from a team that finished second in league play to Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld last year. Sugar River advanced to the WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal round. Coach Kyle Webber believes his team has dynamic and creative offensive players. Among starters returning are senior defender Connor DeLorme, senior midfielders Jack Gentilli and Justin Knoebl, senior forward Jaden Kreklow, junior defender/midfielder Charlie Douma and junior midfielder/defender Matteo Latorre. Cole Kleiboer also is back. The Raiders scored a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld on Thursday.
Lodi: Blue Devils coach Jeff Nelson’s team will rely on solid defense and will hope to improve on its offensive finishing skills. Tim Prosek, who often defends against top opposing players, and Jared Volk -- who has the top technical skill on the team, according to Nelson, are strong in the midfield. Goalkeeper Kyle Mayberry and juniors Nathaniel Karls and Patrick Treinen also are back.
Lakeside Lutheran: Senior captains Chris Schwantes and Josh Lindert and senior goalkeeper Will Bushie lead Lakeside Lutheran, while Luke Marti returns at forward for coach Clark Schultz.
Wisconsin Dells: Seven starters were lost, but coach Ernesto Arias said senior defender Braydon Blatchley, junior midfielder Cade Ravenscroft, sophomore forward Will Van Dinter, sophomore defender Angel Jaramillo and sophomore midfielder Nick Sabey bring speed and outstanding foot skills to the team. Van Dinter had 12 assists last season.
McFarland: McFarland senior midfielder Caleb Blair has been conference player of the year for the past two years and leads the Spartans, whom coach Brett Ogorzalek hopes can win the league title for the fourth consecutive year. Junior forward Ethan Nichols scored 20 goals last year as a first-team all-conference performer. Junior midfielder Brett Connor, senior forward Andy Mendez-Maya, senior defender Sam Taschwer, junior midfielder Vince Seils and sophomore defenders Carter Mrowiec and Jackson Werwinski also are returning starters. In all, 15 letter winners return.
Evansville and Edgerton hope to make some noise this season. Evansville defeated McFarland in the Division 3 sectional semifinals and advanced to the Division 3 sectional final against Mount Horeb last year.
Josh Kerr, a sophomore midfielder, was a first-team SWC pick and the conference player of the year for River Valley, which won the conference title last year.
Key postseason dates
WIAA regionals: Oct. 16, 18, 20.
WIAA sectionals: Oct. 25 and 27.
WIAA state tournament: Nov. 1-3, Uihlein Soccer Park, Milwaukee.