PLATTEVILLE — Where has the summer gone?
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, summer grill outs and family vacation, and poof, all instant memories. Just like that fall sports are once again upon us, marking the end of summer for area high school athletes.
Prep football teams across the state opened practice Aug. 1, while girls swimming held its first practices on Tuesday.
Volleyball, cross country and boys soccer will begin their seasons on Monday.
Platteville High School opened practice under first-year head coach Ryley Bailey and the Hillmen return a stable of talented seniors that could contend for a Southwest Wisconsin Conference Championship in Bailey’s first season.
Senior quarterback Ethan Bernhardt returns to direct Bailey’s new wide-open spread offense after completing 108 of 186 passes for 1,536 yards and 19 TDs as a junior and leading the Hillmen to an 8–3 record and a share of the conference title last year.
Seniors Donovan Blevins (12 receptions, 145 yards, 1 TD), who missed five games last year with an ankle injury, and Zach White (20–259–4), who earned first-team All-SWC honors as a tight end last year, figure to be Bernhardt’s top targets.
Senior Cam Brant, who started at fullback the past two seasons, and junior A.J. Barner (35–249–2 rushing) have been taking snaps at tailback in training camp in Platteville’s new single-back offense.
Seniors Ian Carter (LT, first-team All-SWC) and Caleb Lueder (LG, honorable mention All-SWC) and junior center Isaiah Altfillisch return along the offensive line.
Carter (82 tackles), Brant (57 tackles, White and Blevins are all three-year starters on defense, and senior linebackers Brad Budden (second-team All-SWC, 82 tackles) and Coleman Brecke (52 tackles) and junior Jake Niehaus (45 tackles) are also returning starters for on defense.
Platteville will travel to New Glarus for a 5 p.m. scrimmage on Friday. The Hillmen will then open the season Friday, Aug. 19 at home with a non-conference game against Cuba City.
Other area teams have also been hard at work and will participate in scrimmages on Friday.
Iowa–Grant will host Belleville, Dodgeville and Pecatonica/Argyle at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Coach Gary Allen’s Panthers are coming off a 5–5 season and tied for second place in the Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League behind Division 6 runner-up Darlington, but I–G graduated a talented class of nine seniors. Senior running back Brady Peat (1,329 yards rushing, 13 TDs) first-team All-SWAL offensive lineman Clint Havlik and three-year starting middle linebacker Clayton Kite (92 tackles) will lead the way.
Potosi welcomes an influx of new players with the newly forged Potosi/Cassville co-op making the Chieftains the preseason favorite in the Six Rivers Conference. The new co-op will scrimmage at Seneca on Friday before opening the season at home against Benton/Scales Mound on Friday, Aug. 18.
Potosi went 5–6 a year ago and finished 4–4 in the SRC. It remains to be seen how Cassville players figured into Coach Siegert’s plans, but junior quarterback Will Bierman (1,302 yards, 12 TDs passing), senior Dylan Pluemer (112–638–12 rushing), junior Brady Curtis (567–5 rushing) and senior Alex Udelhofen (25–381–5 receiving) return as the Chieftains’ top offensive playmakers from a year ago.
There is only one way to go and that’s up for the Belmont Braves, who finished 1–9 a year ago, the only win being a forfeit from Cassville.
Second-year co-head coaches Matt McKinley and Brandon Wiese will build around seniors Jacob Wedig, Isaac Wiegel and Conner Wiegel this fall.
Belmont will participate in the Viroqua scrimmage Friday before opening the season against North Crawford at UW–Platteville on Saturday, Aug. 19 at noon.