GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 12–18)
PREP FOOTBALL: Level 4 playoffs
Friday night forecast: 35 degrees, clear, wind NW 6 mph
Top-ranked Darlington advanced to Level 4 of the football playoffs for the third straight season with a 28–7 victory over Cambridge last Friday night.
The undefeated Redbirds (12–0) will be seeking their third consecutive trip to Camp Randall for the state finals when they travel to Middleton on Friday, Nov. 13, to face the third-ranked Melrose–Mindoro Mustangs (10–2) in a state semifinal showdown.
The Mustangs upset the second-ranked Pecatonica/Argyle Vikings (11–1) in a D6 Level 3 game in Argyle on Saturday to earn a shot at the Redbirds on Friday.
“They will be difficult to defend because they put you in a lot of one-on-one match-ups,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. “They have a 6’3” receiver with great hands that is a match-up nightmare. Their quarterback is one of the best athletes we will face this year. He extends plays with his feet and will get a first down by scrambling. They also have an outstanding running back that is very difficult to tackle in the open field and will come out of the backfield to catch passes. It will not be uncommon for them to have five receivers in the pattern on each play. We will need to hold up in the defensive backfield and be able to cover and get pressure on the QB or it will be a long day.”
Cambridge did all they could to slow the Darlington offense in Friday’s Level 3 playoff game. But as the Redbirds have proven time and again this season, you cannot contain them for long.
The #1-ranked and top-seeded Redbirds found the end zone once in every quarter to pick off the seventh-seeded Blue Jays, 28–7.
Senior fullback Conrad Blosch ran for a game-high 100 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to lead the Darlington Redbirds' rushing attack. Blosch ran for 85 of his 100 yards in the second half, including a 49-yard touchdown run with a 1:21 remaining in the third quarter that put the Redbirds ahead 21–0 at the time. Blosch is currently third on the Redbirds with 969 rushing yards and 11 TDs.
Defensively, junior Jared Meister recorded 11 tackles and Jesse Sturtz was in on 10 tackles to lead the Redbirds. Each player also had two tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Hayden Hardyman had five tackles, two TFLs, a pass defensed and an interception, while junior Brayden McDonald had six tackles and a pick and Trevor Johnson added an interception. Logan Muhlstein registered a pair of sacks, while Weaver and Brogan Evenstad each had a sack for the ‘Birds.
Division 2 state championships, at UW–Natatorium, (Madison), Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Platteville senior Melissa Wood will be making her second straight appearance at the WIAA Division 2 Swimming and Diving State Championships. Wood finished seventh in the 100-yard butterfly at Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 Baraboo Sectional with a season-best time of 1:01.23 to earn one of the 12 extra qualifier state berths in the event. The four sectional winners in each event automatically qualify for state. Then the WIAA takes the next 12 fastest times from around the state.
“This was a difficult season for Melissa because she had hip surgery in the spring and so she was not even cleared to swim the butterfly until mid-September,” said Platteville/Lancaster head coach Liz Peters. “Melissa has an incredible work ethic and was dedicated to her physical therapy. She handled practices in a mature way and we were able to train her to do what she needed to do.”
A year ago, she won the conference title and broke her own school record in the event. She also placed 15th at state in the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.
Saturday Wood was the best she has been since last year’s state meet. Besides her seventh-place finish in the 100 butterfly, she also helped the Platteville/Lancaster 400 freestyle relay place 10th and the 200 free relay finish 11th.
The quartet of Wood, fellow senior Megan Graney, junior Haley Gotto and freshman Alla Brehm swam to a 10th place finish in the 400 free relay with a time of 4:04.19. Wood, Graney, Brehm and junior Lauren Smith finished 11th in the 200 free relay at 1:46.92.
“Melissa had an outstanding meet all around, splitting times in the relays that surpassed any on record for our team,” added Peters. “I’m so proud of Melissa for her athletic accomplishments, but also for the fact that she’s a straight-A student, leader/president of several clubs and an all around sweet person. She is so deserving of any accolades she receives because she is truly representative of what a Platteville Hillman is. She is responsible, respectful and ready to succeed in all aspects of life.”
Friday’s WIAA D2 State Championship will be held Friday at the UW–Natatorium in Madison. The swimming finals will begin at 6:30 p.m.
UW–La Crosse (3–6, 2–4 WIAC) at UW–Platteville (7–2, 4–2), Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Pioneers close out the regular season against the visiting Eagles Saturday at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium at 1 p.m. Coach Mike Emendorfer’s team still holds out hope for an NCAA Division III, but a win on Saturday is a must. UW–P is currently in third-place in the WIAC behind UW–Oshkosh (8–1, 6–0 WIAC) and defending national champion UW–Whitewater (8–1, 5–1), both teams that defeated the Pioneers earlier this season.
The Titans will clinch the outright WIAC title and the WIAC’s automatic playoff bid with a victory over last-place UW–Eau Claire (0–9, 0–6) on Saturday. The Warhawks can make a strong case for an at-large playoff berth with a win over UW–Stout (3–6, 2–4) on Saturday.