GAMES OF THE WEEK: (Sept. 17–Sept. 23)
This week, we spotlight a pair of area matchups in different sports, as this week's McDonald's Game of the Week
Cuba City (11–2–3, 4–0 SWAL) at Southwestern (10–0–1, 3–0), at Hazel Green, Thursday, Sept. 17, 7:15 p.m.
The defending Division 4 state runner-up Wildcats take their first crack at unseated reigning conference champion Cuba City in a SWAL clash tonight.
A year ago, the Cubans swept the regular season series with Southwetern en route to winning a third straight SWAL title. The Cubans finished the year 33–6 after being knocked out of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs with a five-set regional final loss to Wisconsin Heights. Meanwhile, the Wildcats only lost three other matches all of 2014 and finished 29–5 overall and advanced to the WIAA Division 4 state championship game, where they lost to Wausau Newman, 3–1.
Cuba City (11–2–3) is off to a great start in conference again this year under head coach Keri Lawson. The Cubans are currently 4–0 in conference play after Tuesday night's sweep of Riverdale and have now won 43 straight league matches dating back to a 3–0 loss to Southwestern on Oct. 4, 2011.
The Cubans are led by senior middle hitter Kaitlyn Kaiser (139 digs, 62 blocks, 12 aces), senior outside hitter Jessi Marti (95 kills, 170 digs, 21 aces) and junior setter Ally Averkamp (268 assists, 65 digs).
Meanwhile, the Wildcats are once again led by reigning SWAL MVP Michelle Budden, who has posted 159 kills, 36 total blocks, 28 aces and a .518 hitting percentage so far this year. The Wildcats also return four other senior starters from last year's state runner-up team, including setter Madison Kuhl (195 assists, 28 aces) and right side hitter Miranda Kemp (40 kills, 21 blocks).
Darlington (4–0, 2–0 SWAL) at Cuba City (4–0, 2–0 SWAL), Friday, 7 p.m., 93.7 FM
Friday night forecast: 65 degrees, 80% chance of thunderstorms at 8 p.m.
On the gridiron, this week's area main attraction is unquestionably Friday's clash between SWAL unbeatens Darlington (ranked 3rd in Division 6) and host Cuba City (ranked fourth). The Cubans (ranked fifth blanked host Fennimore 21–0 last week, while the Redbirds flew past visiting Mineral Point 57–21, thanks to 236 total yards and four touchdowns from Trevor Johnson.
Friday's victories set up a huge SWAL showdown at O.A. Barth Field in Cuba City. The two-time defending SWAL champion Redbirds come into Friday's game averaging 43 points per game on offense and allowing just under 16 points per game on defense, while the Cubans have allowed less than four points per game in four contests and are scoring 42.0 points per game.
"We are approaching this game the same as the others," said Cuba City head coach Guy Kopp. "We need to have the attitude and desire to work hard this week and practice at game speed. We will need to take care of the ball and not give up big plays."
“You get to control your own destiny," said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. "That’s all you can ask. I told the kids to go out and play like they want it. It’ll come down to the play in the trenches. (Cuba City) has a great offensive line. They move people off the ball. They’re tough.”
Darlington has won the last three meetings between these two teams, including a 34–7 victory over the Cubans in week seven a year ago that led to a second straight conference title.
OTHER WEEK 5 PREP FOOTBALL MATCHUPS
Richland Center (0–4, 0–0 SWC) at Lancaster (1–3, 0–0), Friday, 7 p.m., WGLR 97.7 FM
Prairie du Chien (2–2, 0–0) at Platteville (1–3, 0–0), Friday, 7 p.m., Xtreme 107.1 FM
River Valley (4–0, 0–0) at Dodgeville (0–4, 0–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Shullsburg (0–4, 0–4 SRC) at Belmont (2–2, 2–2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Pecatonica/Argyle (4–0, 3–0) at Benton/Scales Mound (3–1, 2–1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Potosi (2–2, 2–2 SRC) at River Ridge (0–4, 0–4), Friday, 7 p.m., 94.3 FM
Necedah (2–2) at Black Hawk (3–1) at South Wayne, Friday, 6 p.m. (Non-conference), South 78 Radio
Cassville (3–1, 3–0) at Highland (1–3, 1–2), Saturday, 2 p.m., WPVL 1590 AM
Fennimore (1–3, 0–2 SWAL) at Boscobel (2–2, 0–2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Riverdale (1–3, 0–2 SWAL) at Mineral Point (3–1, 1–1 SWAL), Friday 7 p.m.
Iowa–Grant (3–1, 2–0 SWAL) at Southwestern (1–3, 1–1 SWAL), at Hazel Green, Friday, 7 p.m.
Hillsboro (4–0, 1–0 SBC) at New Lisbon (4–0, 2–0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Ridge & Valley
De Soto (2–2, 1–1 RVC) at North Crawford (0–4, 0–2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Wauzeka/Seneca (0–4, 0–1) at Kickapoo/La Farge (1–1, 1–1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Southern Door (3–1) at Ithaca (4–0), Saturday, 2 p.m (non-conference)
Iowa–Grant Invitational, at Iowa–Grant Elementary/Middle School, Saturday, 9 a.m.
The Panthers (6–3) host an eight-team tournament with Belleville, Dodgeville, Mineral Point, New Glarus, Portage, Seneca and River Valley varsity reserve.
Benton Invitational, Saturday, 9 a.m.
Six Rivers West-leading Benton (11–1–1, 4–0 SRW) hosts a four-team round-robin tournament on Saturday with Southwestern, Barneveld and Shullsburg.
North Central (Ill.) (1–0) at UW–Platteville (2–0), 1 p.m., Xtreme 107.1 FM
The 22nd-ranked Pioneers will host the #13 Cardinals in a non-conference battle of top 25 teams. North Central defeated UWP last year 28–7 in Naperville, Ill. a year ago. The Cardinals also knocked the Pioneers out of the 2013 NCAA DIII playoffs with a 52–24 second-round victory.