Prep football preview: Warriors, Marshfalcons look to win conference titles outright
Lakeside Lutheran goes gunning for the outright Capitol North championship when it takes on defending league champion Lodi on Friday.
The game will be played on a neutral site at Waunakee High School. Lodi’s field has been torn up by recent wet weather and couldn’t take any more after the Blue Devils lost to Lake Mills 25-14 last week.
“We’re excited about that,” Lakeside Lutheran football coach Paul Bauer said. “We saw what happened to their field last Friday on film. It’s good to be playing on a good surface.”
Lakeside (7-1, 4-0 in conference) has already played once on an artificial surface in a Week 2 win at Elkhorn.
“The second game of the year, we played at Elkhorn’s new field turf field,” Bauer said. “We got pretty chewed up that night. Instead of the usual rubber field, it’s more of a sand type field. We came home with a lot of abrasions. The kids will be more ready for that this time.”
Lodi (7-1, 3-1) features running back Colton Nicolay, who is second in the league in rushing with 611 yards.
“They are 70-30 run,” Bauer said. “They’ve got a good tailback. They are not as big up front as they have been in the past, but they still love to run power, off tackle. They make no secret about it. They are going to run power. They have got five, six different ways of running it. They’ll (just say), ‘how are we going to run it this week against Lakeside?’ But you kind of know what they are going to do against you.”
Lodi has held six of eight opponents under double digits in scoring this season. Lake Mills was the first team to score more than 14 points against them in a 25-14 win last week.
“The defense is the strength of their team,” Bauer said. “They are not as big as they have been, but they are still quick and play to the ball real fast. They are solid. I think the run defense is stronger than the pass defense for them. They have some youth in the secondary.”
Lakeside Lutheran has been committed to implementing more passing elements this season. Senior quarterback Jack Monis has 483 yards passing with six touchdowns in four games while rushing 60 times for 419 yards. Senior tight end Cameron Paske (360 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) and senior receiver Will DeNoyer (292 receiving yards) should have good opportunities against a young secondary on a fast surface.
Lakeside already has a share of its first conference title since 2012.
“We’re looking to win it outright,” Bauer said.
In other games on Friday, Horicon/Hustisford travels to play Dodgeland, Jefferson plays at Whitewater and Waterloo hosts Fennimore.
Jefferson (5-3 RVC) at Whitewater (2-6 RVC)
Already guaranteed a playoff berth, and a Level 1 playoff game on the road in all likelihood, Jefferson enters Friday’s regular season finale against the Whippets just looking to fine tune some things heading into the postseason.
The Eagles weren’t sharp enough in a 28-12 loss to East Troy last week.
“It’s the same for us every week,” Jefferson football coach Steve Gee said. “We looked at film all week. We shot ourselves in the foot. It’s not necessarily who lines up on the other side, it’s a matter of will we make the blocks we need to or commit a silly penalty. We were down two points with a little over three minutes left in the second quarter and suddenly we’re down 16 going into halftime. That’s more in the mirror than the other side. Our focus on offense is not the opponent but us executing properly.”
Senior running back Nolan Klawitter returned from injury last week. Gee expects him to be more comfortable in his second game back.
“We saw some good things,” Gee said. “He has a couple good bursts on some runs. We also saw a few things that remind us he’s been off for a few weeks (in terms of) positioning on blocking and scheme things. If you aren’t immersed in it from week to week, it’s (a challenge). It will be good for him to see some things on film and get a good week of practice in.”
Senior receiver Ben Sukow is third in the league in receiving with 452 yards.
Whitewater’s offense is led by quarterback Dylan Pease (788 yards passing), running backs Will Liebbrand (512 rushing) and Aldo Soto (465 rushing), and receivers Eli Kohl (272 receiving) and Cooper Pease (211 receiving).
“They like to run unbalanced line, put an extra lineman on one side and get behind him,” Gee said. “Three of four plays will be run. They’ll go play action when it’s there but run first. Last year, they had a rough year. They had a rough start this year, but now they have won two of the last three, so they are playing better.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, it’s Whitewater, you’re going to win.’ Nothing’s automatic. They’ve got big linemen and a kid who runs hard. Any time a team runs unbalanced, you have to be in the right position. They hope to catch you (out of position) and take advantage of your mistake. Defensively, that’s our focus, to line up right from the start and go from there.”
(7-1, 5-0 L. Trailways)
(5-3, 3-2 L. Trailways)
All that stands between Horicon/Hustisford and an unbeaten conference championship season is rival Dodgeland. The Trojans have won both of the last two rivalry games since the Husticon corporation was founded.
“It has been interesting, real interesting,” Dodgeland football coach Doug Miller said. “It has created quite a stir amongst the community people, in a good way. It’s made high school football fun.
“They’ve got a great backing with those two communities coming together and putting together a really good team the last three years. Expectations are up there and the following is there. This year, they are kicking the snot out of everybody. Teams we lost to by three points, they beat by 40.”
Since a 35-0 loss to Pittsville in Week 5, Dodgeland has won three straight.
“We are a much better team than we were at the beginning of the year,” Miller said. “We’ve got people back. People are more experienced now and they are gelling.”
Dodgeland junior quarterback Tye Bader is third in the Large Trailways in passing while junior running back Nate Oestreich leads the conference in rushing with 940 yards. When Pardeeville elected to key on Oestreich two weeks ago, senior running back Peter Mountin gashed them for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
“They run the ball well,” Horicon/Hustisford football coach Shannon Mueller said. “We all know that. Oestreich is a great running back. So is Mountin. They throws a lot more than what I thought they would. Bader has done a nice job as a first-year quarterback. (Zach) Yuenger is a good receiver and so is (Seth) Christopherson.”
Scoreboard comparisons mean nothing to Mueller, who respects Miller’s Hall of Fame coaching credentials and Dodgeland’s smash-mouth style of play.
“It’s a huge game,” Mueller said. “It really is. Doug is so smart. I can only imagine what he’s scheming up right now. They are talking rain all week. What are you going to do? It will be exciting.
“He’s done such a great job against us the last two years. It’s going to be tough no matter. They are playing a lot better ball than a few weeks ago. They are clicking well, and their run game is just dominant.”
Horicon/Hustisford counters with three of the best skill players in the conference. Junior quarterback Dylan Schmitt (756 yards passing, second in the league), senior running back CJ Brooks (724 yards rushing, second in the league) and senior receiver Justin Kuehl (511 yards receiving, third in the league) have played a key role for the Marshfalcons, who have outscored opponents 299-83 this season. The defense has two shutouts and held five opponents under double figures.
“They are hitting on all cylinders,” Miller said. “Offense, defense and special teams, they’ve been good. It will be fun to play a really good team and see if we’ve progressed far enough or not. This is a season by itself. We went through the regular season. We’re not playing for a conference championship. We’re already in the playoffs, so this is one game for us. It is just all about pride and testing ourselves.
“We’re not going to be a high seed whether we win or lose this game. It’s just a huge game for all of us personally. They’ve got a little more riding on it … a conference championship. A share would be disappointing at this point in the game, dominating as much as they have.”
Fennimore (7-1) at
Waterloo closes out the regular season with a nonconference game against Fennimore.
The Golden Eagles are coming off a 14-12 loss to Mineral Point in their battle for the SWAL conference championship last week.
Quarterback Reid Larson (1,323 yards passing), running back Zach Davis (522) and receivers Maguire Fitzgerald (633) and Kellen Kenney (380) lead Fennimore at the skill positions.