GAME OF THE WEEK (Nov. 19–25)
PREP FOOTBALL: WIAA Division 6 state championship game
Darlington (13–0, ranked 1st in D6) vs. Fond du Lac Saint Mary’s Springs (11–2, ranked 3rd in D6) at Camp Randall Stadium (Madison), Thursday, 1:05 p.m., WPVL (1590 AM)
Thursday’s forecast: 30 degrees, partly cloudy, wind W 30 mph, 40% chance of rain
The top-ranked Redbirds secured their third consecutive state finals berth by rolling up over 550 yards of offense en route to a 42–12 victory over Melrose-Mindoro in a WIAA Division 6 Level 4 state semifinal game held at Middleton High School on Friday, Nov. 13.
The victory gives Darlington a chance to avenge its 37–28 loss to Saint Mary’s Springs in last year’s D6 state final game after the Ledgers (11–2) defeated previously unbeaten Grantsburg, 34-7, at D.C. Everest on Saturday afternoon to set up a rematch with the Redbirds in Madison on Thursday, Nov. 19.
This will be the third straight year the Redbirds and Ledgers have met in the playoffs. Darlington bounced Saint Mary’s Springs in a 2013 Level 4 playoff game at Middleton, 28–13.
“They have all the talent that you would want on a team,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. “They have excellent speed at the skill positions and are very stout up front on both lines. It will be tough sledding inside. We will have to hold our own in the trenches to be successful. We also have to capitalize on any chances we have for a big play. It should be one heck of a game because both teams could easily win the state championship. We will have to bring our ‘A’ game on Thursday.”
Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.
In Friday’s win over Melrose–Mindoro, junior halfback Hunter Johnson continued his assault on the Redbirds’ record book by adding to his school rushing and scoring records by running 21 times for 188 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Redbird onslaught.
Junior halfback Trevor Johnson had over 100 yards rushing (145) and receiving (115) and caught a pair of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Jared Meister to aid the rout.
Hunter Johnson has run for 2,286 yards and scored 43 total touchdowns this season, while Trevor Johnson (1,137, 32 TDs) and senior fullback Conrad Blosch (1,047, 10 TDs) each went over a 1,000 yards during Friday’s game to give the Redbirds three 1,000-yard backs for the third year in a row and fifth time in school history. Meister has thrown for 843 yards and 11 TDs.
“We have such a wonderful dimension, running inside or outside, that it’s very tough to stop us,” said Zywicki. “You have to pick your poison.”
Junior Fintan Floyd (5’8”, 170 pounds) leads St. Mary’s rushing attack with 1,421 yards and 23 TDs on 185 carries. Junior quarterback Blake Bauer (5’9”, 162) has completed 86 of 145 passes for 1,507 yards, 12 TDs and five interceptions. The junior signal caller has also rushed for 345 yards and 10 TDs on 54 carries.
Bauer’s favorite target is senior Tyler Wiza, 47 receptions for 756 yards and seven touchdowns, but he will miss the state title game with a knee injury.
Sophomore linebacker Clay Schueffner (6’2”, 185) tops the Ledgers’ defense with 122 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss.
GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL:
The 2015–16 girls’ basketball season tipped off Tuesday night with a number of area games. Belmont edged Fennimore 46–44 in first-year coach Alan Seabrook’s debut. Dodgeville routed Evansville 67–51 behind 25 points from senior Kara Crowley, and Kylie Hoffman (24 points) and Taylor Briehl (20) each topped 20 points to lead River Valley to a 67–22 victory over Pecatonica.
Here are this week’s other area girls’ basketball games.
THURSDAY, NOV. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Viroqua at Lancaster
Richland Center at La Crosse Logan
Boscobel at Cassville
De Soto at Potosi
FRIDAY, NOV. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Mineral Point at Dodgeville (WGLR, 97.7 FM)
Prairie du Chien at Fennimore
Pecatonica at Darlington
Belmont at Southwestern
MONDAY, NOV. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Lancaster at Barneveld
Darlington at Argyle
Wauzeka–Steuben at Cassville
TUESDAY, NOV. 24
Richland Center at Cuba City
Riverdale at Dodgeville
River Valley at Mineral Point
Dubuque Hempstead at Platteville
River Ridge at Fennimore
Iowa–Grant at Highland
Boscobel at Seneca
Shullsburg at Albany
Benton at Wauzeka–Steuben