This past week felt as though it should have had NFL Films music as its soundtrack, narrated by the portentous tones of legendary NFL Films narrator John Facenda.
Wednesday night was Yell Night in Williams Fieldhouse, UW–Platteville’s volleyball team hosting Carroll University. (Some wit predicted the Pioneers would win, and went further by saying a team wearing blue and orange would win. Both statements could apply to both teams, as you know.) Bo Ryan Court was more than half full, one side packed with loud UWP students. ROTC members and whoever they invited in did pushups for every Platteville point. (The diehards did 90 of them.)
I don’t know how much home court advantage counts in volleyball, but UWP won in four sets. It was the kind of atmosphere that makes college games entertaining to go to rather than merely watching on TV.
One night later, more volleyball, this time at Platteville High School against current archrival River Valley, which had beaten the Hillmen twice this season. Recall that the Blackhawks beat the Hillmen twice in the 2013 regular season, but the Hillmen got the last word by winning a thrilling five-set regional final in Spring Green.
Apparently the Hillmen decided to stage a reenactment of last year’s regional final without telling anyone beforehand. Like last year, Valley won the first two sets. Then Platteville won set three. Then Platteville won set four 28–26, setting the stage for the all-or-nothing fifth set.
Platteville won set five 15–13, sending the fans streaming on the floor ... twice, the second time after the officials made them leave so the teams could exchange handshakes. Unlike last year, the Hillmen have a chance to share the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title by winning their regular-season finale Thursday. Given that the Blackhawks and Hillmen are the only two ranked teams in the Whitewater Sectional, a third meeting (actually fourth since they also met in the Middleton Invitational final earlier this year) in the regional final seems practically guaranteed.
Then came Homecoming Friday. (As opposed to Homecoming Saturday.) Before the parade Friday afternoon (which featured the best weather in the history of the newly revived PHS Homecoming parade — actual sun!), I walked up to a football team that was wearing unusual black jerseys, and then I saw the HILLMEN on the front. Whether the timing was incidental or coincidental, Platteville pulled the new-uniforms-for-the-big-game gambit for Homecoming and Dodgeville. (Augmented with new dark red pants, as revealed at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.)
You can read the game story for yourself on page 12A. It wasn’t a perfectly played game by the Hillmen, but Platteville got the win to set up Friday night’s game at Lancaster for the SWC title. Given how Platteville started, with two poorly played nonconference losses before the SWC season began, playing for the title is quite an accomplishment, and may bode well for the postseason whether or not Platteville wins Friday. (It certainly bodes well for the chance to play a home game in the postseason, perhaps making up for losing two home games to the June 16 tornado.)
Then there was Saturday afternoon and Potosi at Pecatonica/Argyle in the battle for first place in the Six Rivers Conference, on a glorious fall day. Recall that two weeks ago four teams were tied for first place in the Six Rivers. Then, to paraphrase Agatha Christie:
• Black Hawk got socked by Pecatonica/Argyle 40–0 last week. And then there was three.
• Belmont lost to Black Hawk 42–20 Friday (see page 12A). And then there was two.
• Potosi beat Pec/Argyle 26–20 Saturday. And then there was one.
One for now, that is. Potosi will clinch the Six Rivers by beating Belmont Friday. If Belmont wins, however, the Chieftains and the Braves will be tied for first … along with Black Hawk if the Warriors win at Benton/Scales Mound and Pecatonica/Argyle if the Vikings win at River Ridge. Given how the Six Rivers has gone this season, a tetra-championship (or quadra-championship?) would be weirdly appropriate, though I’m sure Chieftain fans reading this would disagree.
The highlight of the week had to be either Thursday or Saturday, though all four were highly enjoyable to watch because of the atmosphere and the stakes of them all. In a regular season, short of winning the conference, there is nothing better than beating your archrival, whether your archrival is your archrival because of long history or recent quality. Conversely, there is nothing worse than losing to your archrival, as Potosi could attest in losing to Cassville earlier this season. But because of the nature of this football season, Potosi could get the message that the Chieftains needed to play better, and regardless of how Friday ends the Chieftains will be the 2014 Six Rivers football co-champions at least.
Throw in parades and Homecoming dances and fireworks at the M, and that explains why everyone was tired Monday.