GAME OF THE WEEK (Sept. 15–21)
SWC FOOTBALL: River Valley (3–1, 0–0 SWC) at Lancaster (4–0, 0–0 SWC), Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.
Conference play begins in Week 5 for teams in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference and Friday’s league opener between Tim Eastlick’s River Valley Blackhawks and John Hoch’s Lancaster Flying Arrows should be a dandy.
This week’s McDonald’s Swnews4U.com Game of the Week is a match-up of the league’s two longest tenured head coaches and could very well determine this year’s conference champion. The winner will be favored in all four of its remaining games.
Hoch’s Arrows are back near the top of the Division 5 rankings — they are fifth in the latest coaches poll on wissports.net — after a down year in 2014 that followed four straight trips to the D5 state championship game from 2010–13.
But this is a new year and a new team. Junior fullback, who missed most of his sophomore year with a broken leg, as emerged as the Arrows’ top offensive threat. He is currently the third-leading rusher in the state with 836 yards and 11 touchdowns through four games. Gates rushed for a game-high 202 yards on 24 carries and scores all three Lancaster touchdowns in a 21–0 win at Westby last Saturday.
Junior quarterback Evan Straka, who one the starting gig in two-a-days, is a nice compliment to Gates. He is the team’s second-leading rusher with 354 yards on six carries. He has also completed 22 of 42 passes for 229 yard and one TD. Senior linebacker Justin Allen leads the defense with 28 tackles and five tackles for loss. Junior safety Jordan Reuter has 23 stops, including a team-high 10 tackles in last week’s win at Westby.
After beginning the year with a Week 1 bye, River Valley rattled off back-to-back wins over Nekoosa, 32–6, and Aradia, 34–20, but suffered a 20–19 loss to Gale–Ettrick–Trempleau to close out non-conference play last Friday.
Junior Ryan Wickman, son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Wickman, leads the Blackhawks in both rushing and receiving. He has 156 yards rushing and 3 TDs on the ground, as well as a team-best 11 receptions for 265 yards and four touchdowns. Senior quarterback Elijah Alt has completed 19 of 40 passes for 408 yards and seven TDs. Alt and Wickman could test the Arrows defensive backfield, that gave up 329 yards and four touchdowns through the air in a Week 1 win at Fennimore.
PREP FOOTBALL: This week’s area games
Prairie du Chien (2–2, 0–0 SWC) at Dodgeville (3–1, 0–0 SWC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Richland Center (0–4, 0–0 SWC) at Platteville (3–1, 0–0 SWC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Cuba City (2–2, 2–0 SWAL) at Darlington (4–0, 1–0 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Redbirds have dominated everyone this year. Cuba City hopes to give the Redbirds a challenge Friday night, but it will be a tall task to keep up with the ‘Birds.
Boscobel (1–3, 1–1 SWAL) at Fennimore (2–2, 1–1 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
Southwestern (1–3, 0–2 SWAL) at Iowa–Grant (2–2, 1–0 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
Black Hawk (2–2, 2–2 SRC) at Potosi (1–4, 1–3 SRC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Benton/Scales Mound (0–4, 0–3 SRC) at Belmont (0–4, 0–4 SRC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Pec/Argyle (5–0, 4–0 SRC) defeats Cassville (0–4, 0–4 SRC) by forfeit
Highland (3–1, 3–0 SRC) at Shullsburg (5–0, 4–0 SRC), Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Miners ended an 11-year losing streak to Potosi last Friday with a 34–6 victory. Shullsburg is already playoff eligible, but hopes to keep pace with defending Six Rivers champion Pec/Argyle with a Homecoming win over Highland and senior quarterback pheonom John Ross Linscheid on Saturday.
Mineral Point (2–2) at Marshall (1–3), Friday 7 p.m.
River Ridge (3–1) at Necedah (0–4), Friday, 7 p.m.
PREP VOLLEYBALL: This week’s area games of note
Richland Center (14–3, 2–0 SWC) at Platteville (6–11, 2–1 SWC), Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7:15 p.m.
The Hornets may be the best team in the SWC. They Hillmen have been inconsistent all year. They will have a chance to rebound from a frustrating 11–25, 24–26, 24–26 loss to River Valley.
Southwestern (6–1, 3–1 SWAL) at Iowa–Grant (6–3, 3–1 SWAL), Thursday, Sept. 15, 7:15 p.m.
The Panthers will host the Wildcats in a battle for second-place in the SWAL. Senior outside hitter Emma Liddicoat leads Iowa–Grant with 69 kills and 66 digs.
Six Rivers West
Benton (12–1–1, 5–0 SRW) at River Ridge (7–1–1, 4–0 SRW), Monday, Sept. 19, 7:15 p.m.
The Timberwolves face the Zephyrs in the first of two regular season conference meetings with first-place in the Six Rivers West up for grabs.
BOYS SOCCER: This week’s area game of note
Prairie du Chien (8–1, 4–1 SWC) at Platteville/Lancaster (5–2–1, 4–1 SWC), Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5 p.m.
The Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals in the final 35 minutes of 4–3 victory over the visiting Hillmen on Sept. 1. The Platteville/Lancaster co-op is looking for payback and an outright spot atop the league standings when the two teams meet in Platteville on Tuesday.