GAME OF THE WEEK: (Aug. 20–26)
Prep Football: Darlington (0–0) at Platteville (0–0)
Friday, Aug. 21 at UW–Platteville's Pioneer Stadium, 7 p.m., Xtreme 107.1, WPVL FM
The 2015 prep football season will kickoff Friday night with a longstanding non-conference rivalry between teams hoping to contend for conference titles. The defending WIAA Division 6 runner-up Darlington Redbirds will visit UW–Platteville's Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium Friday night to face the host Platteville Hillmen at 7 p.m.
Darlington is coming off a 12–2 season that culminating in a second straight trip to state, but Platteville has won four straight meetings against the Redbirds, despite Darlington's recent postseason success. The Hillmen won last year's season-opener at Dalington, 35–19. The Redbirds last victory over Platteville was a 40–7 route at Darlington to open the 2010 season.
This is the 13th straight year Platteville has met Darlington to open a season (back to 2003). The Hillmen have gone 9–3 over that time. The teams have met 17 times since 1995 with Platteville maintaining an 11–6 edge over Darlington.
Kyle Craig, a Hillmen assistant coach in 2005–06 and 2008–13, takes over the Platteville program this year. The defensive-minded Craig hopes Platteville can content with perennial Southwest Wisconsin Conference power Lancaster, which must replace a plethora of graduated talent after winning last year's Division 5 state title in the program's fourth consecutive trip to state. Platteville returns All-SWC tight end Mitch Knockel, second-team All-SWC defensive end Nate Digman and second-team linebacker Jason Withrow, but must replace quarterback Blake Wagner and fill holes left by WFCA all-stars Ryan Weber and Austin Brogley.
Darlington must replace a number of big playmakers from last year's D6 state runner-up, but the Redbirds remain the preseason favorite to win another SWAL title. They will face stiff competition from Mineral Point, Cuba City and possibly Fennimore. Junior fullback/linebacker Hunter Johnson is Darlington's top returning rusher and figures to be the focal point of coach Scott Zywicki's offense.
Prep Football: Six Rivers Conference Jamboree
Saturday, Aug. 22 at UW–Platteville Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium
Benton Scales Mound (0–0) vs. North Crawford (0–0), 10 a.m., HITS 106.1 FM
River Ridge (0–0) vs. Highland (0–0), 12:30 p.m., 97.7 WGLR FM
Cassville (0–0) vs. Shullsburg (0–0), 3 p.m., Extreme 107.1, WPVL FM
Black Hawk (0–0) vs. Belmont (0–0), 5:30 p.m., 97.7 WGLR FM
The Warriors and Braves tied for second in the Six Rivers Conference a year ago with Pecatonica/Argyle at 6–2 in league play, but Black Hawk beat Belmont in both meetings a year ago, including 40–8 victory in the first round of the Division 7 playoffs that ended the Braves season.
Black Hawk must replace standout quarterback Seth Butler and leading rusher Shawn Woodruff. Both played in the WFCA small schools all-star game. Belmont must replace Six Rivers Defensive Player of the Year Tucker Wedig, but senior Jon Bahr is back as a fourth-year starting quarterback after passing for nearly 1,000 yards and rushing for 800 more and nine TDs, so is his favorite targert senior Quinn Cushman, who caught 28 passes for 507 yards and three TDs to earn first-team all-conference honors a year ago.
Potosi (0–0) vs. Pecatonica/Argyle (0–0), 8 p.m., 97.7 WGLR FM
This Week 1 showdown could help decide this year's conference title. The Cheiftains won its sixth conference title in seven years going 7–1 in the Six Rivers, finished 11–2 overall and reached the Division 7 semifinals before a 36–6 loss to eventual D7 runner-up Pepin/Alma ended their season one game short of state.
Mark's Siegert's sqaud will look to rebuild around senior halfback Teagan Friederick (1,397 rushing yards, 13 TDs) and senior fullback Nate Friederick (595, 5), but Potosi has big shoes to fill at quarterback after the graduation of two-year starter Kyle Kaiser (1,933 yards, 22 TDs), leading tackler Brent Curtis (148 total tackles) and leading receiver Riley Hawes (55 rec., 910 yards, 12 TDs).
Junior Logan Green is back as the Vikings signal caller after passing for 554 yards and seven TDs in six games last year after taking over for injured starter Drew Schliem. As is junior running back Riley Otsby, who rushed for 707 yards and seven TDs. Pec/Argyle finished last year 6–4 overall and tied for second in the Six Rivers at 6–2.
Potosi won last year's match-up 26–20 at Argyle.
Prep Football: Other Week 1 matchups
Fennimore (0–0) at Lancaster (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m., 97.7, WGLR FM
Boscobel (0–0) at Wauzeka–Steuben (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Cuba City (0–0) at Viroqua (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Richland Center (0–0) at Iowa–Grant (0–0), (at Livingston), Friday, 7 p.m.
Necedah (0–0) at Mineral Point (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Southwestern (0–0) at Rio (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Brodhead/Juda (0–0) at River Valley (0–0) (at Spring Green), Friday, 7 p.m.
Dodgeville (0–0) at Evansville/Albany (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Hillsboro (0–0) at Wonewoc–Center (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Cashton (0–0) at Ithaca (0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
La Crosse Aquinas (0–0) vs. Prairie du Chien (0–0), at UW–La Crosse, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Prep Volleyball: Platteville (0–0) at Watertown Invitational
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9 a.m. at Watertown High School
The Platteville Hillmen and new head coach Lindsay Neal will open the season at Tuesday's Watertown Invitational. The Hillmen return eight of their top 10 players from last year's Division 2 state qualifying team, including third-team all-state selection Morgan Stecklein and honorable mention all-state pick Claire Tashner. Platteville went 40–6 overall a year ago under former coach Yvette Updike and shared the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title with River Valley going 9–1 in SWC play. With eight returning seniors in an already thriving progam, the sky is the limit for this year's Platteville volleyball team.