If the winter high school (or college) sports postseason is “March Madness,” and the spring postseason can be called “May Madness,” what do you call the fall postseason?
For the first time, and we hope never again: History will be made at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium Friday when Platteville hosts Dodgeville for the third time this football season.
It’s rare (though not unheard of) for volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball teams to play each other three times in a season. Football teams in normal conferences sometimes play twice — once in the regular season and in the playoffs. Dodgeville–Platteville Act III will be, as far as anyone knows, the first time two football teams have played each other thrice in the same season.
Perhaps this will be the precipitating event for semi-round-robin high school football schedules to go away forever. Next year Southwest Wisconsin Conference teams will play Coulee Conference teams in the two weeks before the SWC season starts. Of course, that takes the SWC back to just five conference games, which has its own downsides.
After the game Friday, I predicted a lot of teams would overlook Platteville because of the Hillmen’s 5–4 record, ignoring the fact that all but two Hillmen games — Richland Center and Prairie du Chien — were against playoff teams. (However, that was before Platteville got a third seed over two teams with better records.) Their schedule and the fact they spent the entire second half of the season in playoff mode — had they lost more than one game after their 1–3 start, the Hillmen’s season would have ended before Friday — may make Platteville a difficult postseason opponent.
Meanwhile, Division 7 Group C’s Level 1 is either a Six Rivers Conference regular season repeat — Belmont at Black Hawk and Cassville at Potosi — right down to where the regular-season games were played, or a Ridge and Valley Conference repeat.
Meanwhile, in the gym: I went to Thursday’s River Valley–Platteville volleyball match. It’s too bad the Hillmen lost (a win would have given them a share of the SWC title with Valley), but with just one senior and three juniors, contending this year means you can pencil in the Hillmen as one of the SWC favorites the next two seasons.
I played (if that’s what you want to call (1) practicing and (2) sitting on the bench) high school volleyball in 1979 and 1980. That was when teams could only score when they were serving (called “side out scoring” by the international volleyball federation), serves had to clear the net, games went to 15, and high school matches were best-of-three games.
Volleyball changed its international rules in 1998 to allow teams to score whether or not they were serving (“rally scoring”) and making matches best of five games. High school associations adopted rally scoring and allowed the “let serve” (where the ball can hit the net as long as it goes over the net) a decade ago.
I’m not sure what prompted the rule changes, but the game is much more watchable now. Under the original rules, games could get stuck on a score if two teams with good offenses (paradoxically, offense in volleyball is when a team is receiving a serve) got side out after side out after side out. The changes may have been prompted by concern over TV ratings of Olympic volleyball, but regardless of the reason, it’s a more fun game to watch and, I imagine, play now.
Weather karma, or lack thereof: The return of the Platteville High School Homecoming parade last and this year is great, with one exception — the weather for both parades was bad. Someone working for the school district must not have the right pipeline to the weather forces.
I mentioned last week that my radio partner, former Platteville coach Wally Trouten, estimates that 85 percent of high school football coaches hate Homecoming. (Platteville beat Dodgeville during the Dodgers’ Homecoming, but you’ll notice who won Platteville’s Homecoming.) During the parade, I thought of the way to deal with coaches’ Homecoming antipathy — invite the opponent to participate in Homecoming-day events, particularly the parade.
Take note, Braves and Chieftains fans: The state Assembly approved a bill to make the process of forcing school districts to change their American Indian nicknames more difficult. The state Senate is expected to take up the bill in early November, though state Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) is opposed.
I’d like to see Schultz (who is up for election next year and has a primary opponent, Rep. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green), if Schultz decides to run) go to Belmont (whose high school teams are called the Braves), Potosi (Chieftains) and the Riverdale school district (also Chieftains), not to mention Wisconsin Dells (Chiefs), and such potentially borderline cases as Lancaster (Flying Arrows), Black Hawk (Warriors) and River Valley (Blackhawks — bird or Indian chief?) and tell his constituents why their high schools need to get rid of their nicknames.
What’s even dumber than the present law is Schultz’s proposed alternative that would require the state Department of Public Instruction to annually identify school nicknames that could be considered to be race-based, with school boards required to hold hearings and then reapprove their own high school nicknames. Theoretically any nickname that includes the words “black” or “red” could be considered race-based in the opinion of the professionally offended.
No one has adequately explained why a school district would choose a mascot for the purpose of being a target of ridicule. The answer is: They don’t. Mascots (including such human ones as, well, Platteville’s Coach W.P. Hill) are chosen for their inferred positive qualities. It is no one’s business except that school district who or what it chooses for its mascot. And that, Sen. Schultz, includes the state Department of Public Instruction.