GAME OF THE WEEK (Oct. 22–28)
WIAA Level I playoffs
Friday night forecast: 70 degrees, light rain (70 percent chance), wind SW 12 mph
The WIAA football playoffs kick off Friday night with a number of area games. The march towards Camp Randall and the WIAA State Tournament begins this week. Here's a look at this week's area Level 1 playoffs pairings.
(8) Platteville (4–5, 3–2 SWC) at (1) Lodi (9–0, 5–0 Capitol North), Friday 7 p.m., Xtreme 107.1 FM
The Hillmen denied Lancaster a share of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title with a 28–26 victory over the Arrows and in the process clinched the program's sixth straight playoff appearance and first under first-year coach Kyle Craig. It will not get easier for Craig and the Hillmen as they travel to Lodi to face the top-ranked team in all of Division 4. A year ago, the Blue Devils ended Platteville's season with a 32–6 victory over Platteville in a Level 2 playoff game at Lodi.
Platteville is led by the two-headed rushing attack of junior Luke Fugate (166 carries, 837 yards, 9 TDs) and senior fullback Jason Withrow (75-446-6). Sophomore Donovan Blevins has caught a team-high 27 passes for 367 yards and seven TDs. Withrow has 21 catches for 275 yards and one touchdown.
Lodi is led by senior running back Mark Nellen, who has rushed for 1,578 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Blue Devils have outscored its opponents 313–34 this year. The Lodi defense has only allowed three touchdowns all season, and didn't allow a single point this season until a 42–3 victory over Poynette in Week 6.
(7) Brodhead/Juda (4–5, 4–2 Rock Valley South) at (2) River Valley (8–1, 4–1 SWC), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Blackhawks earned a share of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title and the number two-seed in its eight-team regional bracket with a 26–14 victory over visiting Prairie du Chien Friday night. Senior quarterback Elijah Alt rushed for 126 yards and two TDs and Hunter Schwingle added 103 yards and a score as River Valley outscored PdC 20–7 in the second half.
The Cardinals finished in a four-way tie for first-place in the six-team Rock Valley South Conference with Big Foot (5–4, 4–2), Beloit Turner (7–2, 4–2) and Clinton (5–4, 4–2). Brodhead/Juda is coming off a 38–27 non-conference loss to East Troy to close the regular season.
(6) Lancaster (4–5, 3–2, SWC) vs. (3) Westby (7–3, 3–2 Coulee), at Viroqua, WGLR (97.7 FM), Friday, 7 p.m.
The defending Division 5 state champion Arrows are coming of a disappointing 28–26 loss at Platteville that cost them a share of a fifth straight SWC title. However, Lancaster won three straight games to begin the conference season after a sluggish 1–3 non-conference showing and clinched a 22nd straight playoff berth. Senior fullback Nic Wood set single-game school records for rushing yards (349), carries (39) and all-purpose yards (384) in last week's loss at Platteville. Since taking over as the starting fullback, Wood has rushed for 1,358 yards and 17 TDs in the last six games. During that time he has averaged 226 yards per game and nearly 8.4 yards per carry, most of them after contact. In his first three games as a halfback, Wood rushed for a total fo 114 yards on 13 carries and did not reach the end zone.
"The way he's played the last five-plus games, his is one of the best we've had," said Lancaster head coach John Hoch of Wood. "He's taken the team on his shoulders and he's staying healthy, knock on wood, or knock on Nic Wood, whatever you want to say. When he gets into the open field, he's magical."
Westby closed out the regular season with a 30–27 victory over Black River Falls to earn a playoff berth. With a loss the third-seeded Norse would not have even made the playoffs. Senior Travis Hofslein leads Westby with 1,015 yards and 13 TDs rushing on 137 carries. Senior quarterback Shane Gran has completed 58 of 113 passes for 943 yards, 9 TDs and 6 interceptions. He has also rushed for 478 yards and 13 TDs.
(5) Waterloo (6–3, 4–1 Capitol South) at (4) Prairie du Chien (6–3, 4–1 SWC), WPRE (980 AM, 104.3 FM)
Despite a 26–14 loss at River Valley last week, Prairie du Chien won a share of its first conference football title since 1988 by scoring 15 points in the final three minutes to stun Lancaster 44–43 a week earlier. Senior quarterback Brogan Potter led the SWC with 1,592 yards passing and 17 TDs. He has completed 87 of 158 attempts. The Blackhawks will be making their first playoff appearance since 2010.
The Pirates blanked fellow D5 playoff qualifier New Glarus/Monticello 23–0 to earn a share of the Capitol South title. Senior running back Evan Meyer leads Waterloo with 1,030 yards rushing and 11 TDs on 155 carries.
(8) Pardeeville (5–4, 3–3 Trailways South) at (1) Darlington (9–0, 6–0 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m., WEKZ (93.7 FM)
The Redbirds (ranked number one in Division 6) capped an unbeaten regular season with an easy 42–0 shutout of Iowa–Grant on Friday. Darlington is the two-time defending Division 6 runner up. The Redbirds are led by junior cousin Hunter Johnson (119 carries, 1,618 yards, 25 TDs) and Trevor Johnson (81-811-13). The Redbirds are heavy favorites in Friday's game against the Bulldogs, who are coming off a 36–15 loss to Trailways South champion Markesan.
(7) Cambridge (5–4, 3–2 Capitol South) at (2) Cuba City (8–1, 6–1 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m., WPVL (1590 AM)
The Cubans (ranked ninth in Division 6) finished second in the SWAL and have won four straight games since a 34–13 loss to top-ranked Darlington in Week 5. Cuba City could earn a rematch with the Redbirds if both advance to Level 3. Sophomore Kordell Stillmunkes (47-495-11 rushing, 22-330-3 receiving) has become Cuba City's go-to player since a season-ending concussion to senior Mitchell Splinter.
(4) Dodgeland (6–2, 5–1 Trailways South) at (4) Mineral Point (7–2, 5–2 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Pointers closed out the regular season with a 35–22 victory over Southwestern.
(5) Whitehall (5–4, 5–2 Dairyland South) at (4) Iowa–Grant (5–4, 4–3 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Panthers look to rebound after a 42–0 loss to SWAL champion Darlington. Senior halfback Brayden Johnson leads the SWAL with 1,670 yards rushing. He also has 24 rushing touchdowns.
(8) Kickapoo/La Farge (3–6, 3–3 Ridge & Valley) at (1) Pecatonica/Argyle (9–0, 8–0 Six Rivers), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Predators snuck into the playoffs with a 36–26 victory over Weston last week. They will have their hands full with the undefeated and second-ranked Vikings, who destroyed the competition in the Six Rivers Conference en rout to a perfect regular season. Pec/Argyle is averaging 45.7 points per game. They blasted Shullsburg 62–14 a week ago to close out the regular season. Senior running back Riley Ostby has 912 yards rushing and 17 TDs to lead a balanced offense.
(5) De Soto (7–2, 5–1 Ridge & Valley) at (4) Hillsboro (7–2, 4–2 Scenic Bluffs), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Tigers finished tied with Brookwood for second-place in the Scenic Bluffs Conference.
(6) Highland (4–5, 4–4 Six Rivers) at (3) WIld Rose (8–1, 4–1 Central Wiscosnin Ten), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Cardinals clinched a playoff berth with a 54–37 victory over Benton/Scales Mound in last week's McDonald's Game of the Week. Wild Rose is ranked 10th in Division 7.
(7) Cashton (4–5, 3–3 Scenic Bluffs) at (2) Ithaca (9–0, 6–0 Ridge & Valley), Friday, 7 p.m.
The undefeated Bulldogs dominated everyone in the Ridge and Valley. They are ranked fourth in Divsion 7.
(5) Johnson Creek (7–2, 4–2 Trailways Small) at (4) Potosi (7–2, 6–1 Six Rivers), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Chieftains, ranked eighth in D7, have won seven straight games since back-to-back losses to Pec/Argyle and Cassville to open the season.
(6) Randolph (6–3, 5–1 Trailways Small) at (3) Cassville (6–3, 6–2 Six Rivers West), Saturday, 2 p.m., KIYX (106.1 FM)
The Comets finished in a tie for second-place in the Six Rivers Conference behind undefeated Pec/Argyle (9–0).
(7) Black Hawk (6–3, 5–3 Six Rivers) at (2) Burlington Catholic Central (9–0, 7–0 Metro Classic), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Warriors finished fourth in the Six Rivers Conference and drew the short end of the stick as far as first-round pairings go. Undefeated Catholic Central is ranked second in Division 7, but somehow got the second seed behind fellow unbeaten Cambria–Friesland, which is ranked sixth in D7.
PREP VOLLEYBALL: WIAA regional semifinals
(5) Richland Center at (1) Platteville, Thursday, 7 p.m., Xtreme 107-1 FM
(6) Dodgeville at (2) River Valley, Thursday, 7 p.m.
(5) Fennimore at (1) Wisconsin Heights, Thursday, 7 p.m
(3) Riverdale at (2) Iowa–Grant, Thursday, 7 p.m.
(4) New Glarus at (1) Cuba City, Thrusday, 7 p.m.
(3) Mineral Point at (2) Brodhead, Thrusday, 7 p.m.
(4) Highland at (1) River Ridge, Thursday, 7 p.m
(3) De Soto at (2) Seneca, Thursday, 7 p.m.
(4) Pecatonica at (1) Southwestern, Thrusday, 7 p.m.
(6) Shullsburg at (2) Benton Thrusday, 7 p.m.
(4) New Lisbon at (1) Royall, Thursday, 7 p.m.
(3) Cashton at (2) Hillsboro, Thursday, 7 p.m.
PREP CROSS COUNTRY:
WIAA Division 2 Monroe Sectional, Twinging Park, Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Participating teams: Brodhead/Juda, Dodgeville/Mineral Point, Edgerton, Edgewood, Evansville, Lodi, McFarland, Monroe, Mount Horeb, New Glarus/Monticello, Platteville, Richland Center/Ithaca, River Valley, Southwestern/Benton/Cuba City and Beloit Turner.
WIAA Division 3 Darlington Sectional, Darlington High School, Saturday 11 a.m.
Participating Teams: Albany, Belleville, Boscobel, Cassville, Darlington, Fennimore, Iowa-Grant, Kickapoo/La Farge, Lancaster, Madison Country Day/Abundant Life Christian, North Crawford, Parkview, Pecatonica/Argyle, Prairie du Chien, Rio/Fall River, Riverdale, Saint Ambrose, Waterloo, Wauzeka-Steuben, Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld.