GAME OF THE WEEK (Oct. 13–Oct. 19)
SWC FOOTBALL: Platteville (6–2, 3–1 SWC) at Lancaster (8–0, 4–0 SWC, ranked 3rd in Division 5), Friday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m., WGLR (97.7 FM)
The championship in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference comes down to the final week of the season. Undefeated Lancaster clinched at least a share of this year’s SWC title with a 42–12 victory over Dodgeville a week ago. Friday night, the Flying Arrows host second-place Platteville in this week’s McDonald’s Swnews4U.com Game of the Week.
Coach Kyle Craig’s Hillmen missed out on a chance to make Friday’s game a winner-take-all event, dropping a 42–28 decision at River Valley a week ago, but Platteville’s goal of a shared conference title remains alive. And River Valley will be Platteville’s biggest fan. The Blackhawks can clinch a share of a three-way conference title with a Hillmen victory at Lancaster and a victory of their own over Prairie du Chien.
“It’s rare that you get a week 9 conference championship game in high school football,” said Craig. “We’re embracing the unique opportunity that we have put ourselves in and are going to let it all hang out Friday night.”
However, the Hillmen might not be a full strength. Platteville was without three-year starting right tackle Chandler Miesen (ankle) last week at River Valley and lost senior guard/defensive tackle Will Simmons (leg) and freshman tackle/defensive end Will Schaefer during Friday’s loss. It is unknown if any or all three will miss Friday’s championship tilt at Lancaster.
The offensive line has played a key role in Platteville’s success this year. Miesen, Simmons and senior tackle Ian Carter have helped senior halfback Luke Fugate rush for 1,226 yards and 18 touchdowns on 143 carries. He has also returned a pair of kickoff for touchdowns in conference play.
Junior quarterback Ethan Bernhardt has completed 64 for 119, 1,046 yards and 11 TDs and four interceptions. His favorite target has been senior Alex Traxler, who has 30 receptions for 566 yards and seven TDs. Traxler also leads the Platteville defense with 79 tackles (49 solos) and a team-high five interceptions. Junior tight end Zach White has caught 11 passes for 179 yards and three scores.
Lancaster also relies on a high-powered running game to lead its high-scoring offense, but in recent weeks has shown glimpse of a legitimate passing game.
Junior fullback Evan Gates leads the league in rushing and scoring with 1,458 yards and 22 touchdowns on 179 carries. Junior quarterback Evan Straka has given the Arrows a true second option, rushing for 628 yards and 13 TDs on 130 carries, while completing 46 of 85 passes for 548 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Senior Tanner Reuter has 22 catches for 183 yards and one TD.
Senior middle linebacker Justin Allen leads the defense with 50 tackles. Junior defensive backs Garrett Birkett and Jordan Reuter each have three interceptions.
A year ago Lancaster’s Nic Wood rushed for 349 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries, but Platteville held on for a 28–26 victory.
“We did clinch a share of the conference title, but no one wants to share their candy with anybody," said Lancaster head coach John Hoch. "We didn’t play good against them last year and spotted them 14 points before we even knew what was going on. Hopefully we can play cleaner this week, and play better.”
PREP FOOTBALL: This week’s area games
Prairie du Chien (3–5, 1–3 SWC) at River Valley (5–2, 3–1 SWC), Friday, 7 p.m.
It’s safe to say the Blackhawks will emerge victorious in this game, most likely the Blackhawks from River Valley. Valley can clinch a share of the SWC title with a win and a Platteville victory over Lancaster Friday.
Dodgeville (4–4, 1–3 SWC) at Richland Center (0–8, 0–4 SWC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Darlington (8–0, 5–0 SWAL, #2 in D6) at Iowa–Grant (5–3, 4–1 SWAL), Friday 7 p.m., WBGR (93.7 FM)
Coach Gary Allen’s Panthers can win a share of this year’s SWAL title with a win over the league-leading Redbirds Friday night, but the odds are long. Undefeated Darlington is averaging 60.8 points per game this year while allowing just 45 points all season. The Redbirds are coming of a 63–0 victory over Fennimore, a team that beat I–G 13–6 two weeks ago.
Southwestern (1–7, 0–5 SWAL) at Mineral Point (5–3, 2–3 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Pointers can become playoff eligible with a win.
Boscobel (2–7, 1–4 SWAL) at Cuba City (3–5, 2–3 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m., WPVL (1590 AM)
The Cubans can become playoff eligible with a win.
SIX RIVERS CONFERENCE
Shullsburg (8–1, 6–1 SRC, #9 in D7) at Pecatonica/Argyle (9–0, 7–0 SRC, #4 in D6), 7 p.m., WPVL (107.1 FM)
Shullsburg can win a share of the Six Rivers Conference title with a win over fourth-ranked Pecatonica/Argyle. The Miners are coming off a 55–0 win over Belmont. The Vikings smashed Benton/Scales Mound 50–0 last week.
Highland (5–3, 5–2 SRC) at Benton/Scales Mound (2–5, 2–6 SRC), Friday, 7 p.m.
River Ridge (3–5, 3–4 SRC) at Black Hawk (6–3, 5–2 SRC), Friday, 7 p.m.
Benton/Scales Mound (2–4, 2–4 SRC) defeats Cassville (0–6, 0–6 SRC) by forfeit.
Fennimore (5–3) at Orfordville Parkview (2–6), Friday, 7 p.m.
Potosi (4–5) at Cashton (2–6), Friday, 7 p.m.
Ithaca (8–0) at Belmont (0–8), Friday, 7 p.m.
PREP VOLLEYBALL: This week’s area games of note
Platteville (17–20, 7–2 SWC) at Richland Center (25–8, 8–0 SWC), Thursday, Oct. 13, 7:15 p.m.
The Hornets have already clinched at least a share of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title and the top seed it their seven-team regional, but would prefer to finish the season on a high note with an outright conference title. Coach Laura Selgeby’s Richland Center squad can claim said outright title with a win tonight over improving Platteville or a win over River Valley in Saturday’s make-up game. Coach Lindsay Nihles’ Hillmen can still earn a share of this year’s SWC crown with a win tonight and a River Valley win over Center on Saturday. Platteville is 9–5 in its last 14 matches after struggling to an 8–15 start to the season.
Southwestern (16–7, 7–4 SWAL) at Mineral Point (23–4, 10–1 SWAL), Thursday, Oct. 13, 7:15 p.m.
The Pointers wrapped up the outright SWAL title with a win over Boscobel on Tuesday. They can close the regular season out on a high note with a victory over Southwestern. The Wildcats fell out of a four-way tie for second-place with a 3–1 loss at Darlington Tuesday night.
Darlington (16–4–2, 8–3 SWAL) at Iowa–Grant (17–7, 7–4), Thursday, Oct. 13, 7:15 p.m.
The Redbirds can clinch second place in the SWAL with a win at Iowa–Grant in tonight’s regular season finale for both teams.
PREP CROSS COUNTRY:
SWC Championships (at Spring Green), Thursday, Oct. 12, 4:30 p.m.
River Valley will host the annual SWC Conference meet this afternoon. Dodgeville/Mineral Point is the favorite to dethrone defending champion Platteville in the boys’ championship race, but senior Dan Iselin (who finished third at conference a year ago) will lead the Hillmen title defense. River Valley senior Dustin Hatfield (second in 2015) is the favorite to win the boys’ individual title. Defending champion Lydia Murphy of Lancaster and the Flying Arrows are both the frontrunners in the girls’ championship. Dodgeville/Mineral Point is expected to be Lancaster’s top competition.
SWAL Championships (at Fennimore), Thursday, Oct. 12, 5 p.m.
The Darlington boys are once again the heavy favorite to win this year’s SWAL title. The Redbirds have won the past eight conference titles and five straight WIAA Division 3 state titles. Riverdale senior Brian Mathews and Darlington sophomore Payton Heinberg are the favorites to win the boys’ individual SWAL title. Albany dominated last year’s girls SWAL championship race, placing four runners in the top five and five among the top eight. The Rockets only lost one senior from last year’s championship team and are the favorite to repeat. Albany senior Ciara Kaderly and Boscobel senior Mackenzie Kauffman are the frontrunners to win the girls individual conference title.