Stoughton Vikings - Badger South
Coach: Dan Prahl (3rd Season), 8-11 Overall (0-1 Postseason; 2016)
2016 Result: 6-4 (4-2), 3rd in the Badger South (Lost to Waukesha West 35-0 in Level 1 of the D2 Playoffs)
Three-Year Record: 11-18 (0-2 Playoffs)
2016 All-Conference Honors: 4 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 10 Honorable Mention (16 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 12 First-Team, 10 Second-Team, 26 Honorable Mention (48 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (9): RB/DB Brady Schipper (Second Team-RB) (Second Team-RB in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 15 - RB), Sr.; TE/LB Max Fernholz (Honorable Mention-TE) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - TE), Sr.; OL/DL Elijah Krumholz (Honorable Mention-OL), Sr.; OL/DL Aodan Marshall (Honorable Mention-OL), Sr.; OL/LB Matt Krcma (Honorable Mention-OL), Sr.; FB/DL Gavin Miller (Honorable Mention-DL), Sr.; RB/LB Tyler Dow (Honorable Mention-LB), Sr.; WR/DB Jordan DiBenedetto (Honorable Mention-DB), Sr.; WR/DB/K Sam McHone (Honorable Mention-K) (Honorable Mention-K in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 10 - K/P), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: WR/DB Payton Montgomery, Sr.; WR/DB Weston Beyler, Sr.; OL/DL Dylan Bennett, Sr.; QB/DB Jonathan Malueg, Sr.; TE/DL Tommy McClain, Sr.; RB/LB Drew Pasold, Jr.; RB/LB Cade Spilde, Jr.; RB/DB Dwight Walker, Jr.; OL/DL Jack True, Jr.; OL/DL Jack Nelson, So.
BIG Games: at Monroe September 15, vs Oregon September 22 (Homecoming), at Watertown September 29, vs Monona Grove October 6
Stoughton Head Coach Dan Prahl has been around some of the most successful programs in the state of Wisconsin.
First, he spent a few years as a student assistant for the national college football powerhouse UW-Whitewater Warhawks program upon graduation. Then, Prahl coached the JV at Waunakee, one of the state's premier high school football programs.
Stoughton appeared in the playoffs for just the third time in school history, but for the second time in two seaons as well in 2016. With nine players back who have earned all-conference honors, and virtually every position returning starters from a season ago, the Vikings figure to be in the mix as one of the top Badger South teams in 2017
Now in his third year as the head coach at Stoughton, Prahl led the Vikings to their third-ever playoff appearance in 2016. Stoughton has had several excellent players pass through the halls in recent years, and that trend doesn't change in 2017, as the Vikings bring back depth and experience at virtually every position for the upcoming season.
The most exciting prospect about 2017 for Coach Prahl?
"Oh, yeah, the offensive line," gushed Prahl. "I'm really excited about that group. As they go, the offense goes."
The three seniors returning to the line, Aodan Marshall, Matt Krcma, and Elijah Krumholz, all made honorable mention all-conference as juniors. Junior Jack True and Sophomore Jack Nelson both return as starters as well. Nelson, in particular, flashes some interesting potential as he started at left tackle as a freshman in 2016.
"There is no doubt that our offensive line is the strength of our team," said Prahl, who takes 'a lot of pride' in line play.
There's plenty to like from the skill positions as well. Standout senior running back Brady Schipper, rated in the top 15 of all running backs in the senior class in the state, is back in the fold. Senior Jonathan Malueg also returns at quarterback, getting some time at the position last year. Multi-purpose threat Jordan DiBenedetto is back, having scored in a variety of ways last year for the Vikings.
Stoughton will also welcome back their tight ends from last year, seniors Max Fernholz (rated in the top 10 in the state at the position) and Tommy McClain.
Defensively, virtually every position returns experience. The linebackers are lead by senior Tyler Dow and juniors Drew Pasold and Cade Spilde, while the defensive line will have anchors in seniors Dylan Bennett and Gavin Miller. With so many returning to the offensive line, there will be healthy competition for playing time in the defensive line rotation.
In the secondary, DiBenedetto is back, along with fellow seniors Payton Montgomery and Weston Beyler and junior Dwight Walker. Stoughton figures to once again lean on a strong defense in 2017, as they only lost four games last year, in which they gave up 30 points in each while never scoring more than 28 in any one contest in 2016.
"There's so many positions of leadership and experience," said Prahl. "I'm excited for the season to begin."
The special teams department should also be well-covered. Sam McHone earned a top-ten ranking from WisSports.net as a specialist in the class of 2018, while DiBenedetto scored on a return last year.
On the schedule, Stoughton will play on the road for both of its Badger crossover contests, at Portage to open the year and then at Baraboo. In Week 3, the Vikings will welcome Edgewood to town, followed by another home again against Milton.
Stoughton's first Badger South road game takes them to Monroe on September 15. The Vikings return home on September 22 for Homecoming against Oregon.
In Week 7, Stoughton travels to new Badger South foe Watertown in what should be a spectacular showcase of the Goslings' passing attack against Stoughton's talented, experienced secondary. If facing one of the top quarterback-receiver duos in the state isn't enough of a warm-up, the Vikings will see another top-15 quarterback in the state in Alec Ogden and Monona Grove the following week, in Stoughton's final regular-season home game.
The Vikings finish the regular season playing at Fort Atkinson, who they defeated 23-10 in their Badger South opener a season ago.
Stoughton figures to be in the mix for a conference title, and Coach Prahl said he's looking forward to the challenge that the Badger South will provide for the 2017 season.
On August 16, Coach Dan Prahl will be part of a feature on The Prep Report on The Big 1070 after 6 p.m.
--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska