GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 3–Nov. 9)
WIAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: This week’s area games
#4 Highland (8–3) at #2 Shullsburg (10–2), Friday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m.
The second-seeded Miners survived to play another day with a 13–12 victory over visiting Black Hawk in a WIAA Division 7 Level 2 playoff game last Friday night. Senior Hunter Matye’s extra point proved to be the difference after Nathan Wedige’s leaping 36-yard touchdown catch from senior Noah Wand with 1:31 left in the third quarter.
Shullsburg advances to face a third straight Six Rivers Conference foe when fourth-seeded Highland travels to Badger Park Friday night. The Cardinals (8–3) defeated the Miners 25–22 to spoil Shullsburg’s Homecoming game on Sept. 17, and roll into Friday’s rematch riding a three-game winning streak including playoff wins over Iowa–Grant 42–13 and third-ranked Ithaca 49–13 last week.
Highland senior quarterback John Ross Linscheid has rushed for 433 yards and 10 touchdowns in the two playoff wins, including 203 yards and six TDs in last week’s upset of the top-seeded Bulldogs.
“We get another home game, so that’s cool,” said Shullsburg head coach Scott Matye. “Everybody always wants another chance at a team who beat them. It’s going to be one heck of game. We thought we did a pretty good job against them last time except for all the turnovers in the first half.”
Shullsburg rallied from a 22–8 first-half deficit to tie the game on a 10-yard Noah Wand to Joey Meyer touchdown pass with 10 minutes left in the game. Highland sophomore Drew Hennessey booted the game-winning 26-yard field goal with 6:15 to play and the Cardinals’ defense stopped the Miners on downs at the Highland 10-yard line with two minutes left.
Linscheid completed 5 of 10 passes for 118 yards and one TD and added 92 yards rushing on 24 carries. Hennessey ran seven times for 72 years and caught three passes for 83 yards and a score.
Wand completed 11 of 16 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice in the first meeting. Shullsburg also lost three fumbles in the game.
#2 Pecatonica/Argyle (12–0) at #1 Darlington (11–0), Friday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m.
This matchup has been a year in the making. Pecatonica/Argyle and Darlington were headed toward a D6 state semifinal a year ago, until the undefeated Vikings were upset in by third-seeded Melrose–Mindoro, 21–17, in the third round. The Vikings will get their shot at the dominate Redbirds this Friday night.
Pec/Argyle (11–0) hammered third-seeded Markesan 41–8 in the second round last Friday. Senior quarterback Logan Green completed 6 of 7 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, while Collin Argue (115) and Cam Treuthardt (104) each topped 100 yards rushing in the win. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 423–67 in 10 games this year (one of their 11 victories was a forfeit win over Cassville), but they will face their greatest challenge of the season this week.
The second-ranked Redbirds have averaged 58.0 points per game this year and have not been challenged. Darlington pounded SWAL rival Fennimore 56–7 in the second round, as senior Hunter Johnson rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns and returns an interception for a third score. The Darlington defense has only allowed three touchdowns over the last six weeks, while outscoring its opponents by an average of 61.3–3.5. Johnson has rushed for 1,937 yards and 39 touchdowns on 127 carries in 11 games this year. He is averaging an astonishing 15.3 yards per carry.
#2 Lancaster (10–1) at #1 Clinton (10–1), Friday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.
With a 34–21 second round victory over Laconia last Friday night, the Flying Arrows advanced to the Division 5 quarterfinals and a date at top-seeded Clinton Friday night. Lancaster struggled through the first-half of last week’s game losing three fumbles and falling behind 7–0, but the Arrows scored four third-quarter touchdowns to pull away. Juniors fullback Evan Gates (148 yards, 2 TDs) and junior quarterback Evan Straka (122 yards, 2 TDs) combined for 270 yards rushing and all scored four of Lancaster’s five TDs.
Gates is currently fourth in the state in rushing with 1,961 yards and 25 touchdowns going into Friday’s game. He is just six yards away from breaking Lancaster’s single-season rushing record (Tyler Glass 2014, 1,966) and only 39 yards from becoming the Arrows’ first 2,000-yard rusher in school history. Starla has rushed for 883 yards and 17 TDs, while passing for 639 yards and four scores.
Clinton advanced to the third round with a narrow 14–7 victory over fourth-seeded Arcadia a week ago. Senior Payton Pope (5’8”, 155) is Clinton’s top rusher with 1,363 yards and 12 touchdowns. Fellow senior Jordan Jones has rushed for 816 yards and 10 TDs, while junior fullback has 690 yards and nine TDs this season.
#3 Lake Mills (8–3) at #1 River Valley (8–2), Friday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.
All eyes will be on the quarterback position when the L-Cats travel to Spring Green for Friday night’s Level 3 playoff game. River Valley senior QB Elijah Alt rushed for a game-high 174 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 113 yards and two more scores to lead the SWC tri-champion Blackhawks to an easy 33–7 victory over fourth-seeded Lodi 33–7 last Friday night. Alt has rushed for 945 yards and 18 TDs this season, while completing 72 of 124 passes for 1,221 yards and 14 TDs in nine games.
Lake Mills features its own talented dual-threat quarterback in junior Ben Dunkleberger. Dunkleberger accounted for 431 yards and 5 total touchdowns (168 yards, 3 TDs rushing, 17-of-30, 263 yards, 2 TDs passing) to lead the L-Cats to a dominating 44–26 victory at second-seeded Platteville last Friday. Dunkleberger has completed 241 of 415 passes for 2,952 yards and 33 TDs this year, while rushing for 733 yards and 16 TDs in Lake Mills’ wide-open spread offense.