2017 High School Football Preview: Waunakee

Waunakee Warriors - Badger North

Coach: Pat Rice (26th Season), 260-39 Overall (State Champion 1999, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2011), WFCA Hall of Fame 2014

2016 Result: 10-1 (7-0), 1st in the Badger North (Lost to Monona Grove in Level 2 of the D2 playoffs)

Three-Year Record: 31-5 (6-3 Playoffs)

2016 All-Conference Honors: 13 First-Team, 11 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (27 total)

Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 28 First-Team, 26 Second-Team, 18 Honorable Mention (72 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (18): QB Nate Carter (First Team-QB) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 15 - QB) (WSN Top 50 Seniors Overall), Sr.; RB Javian Dayne (2016 Badger North Offensive Player of the Year) (First Team-RB) (Second Team-RB and DE in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 15 - RB) (WSN Top 50 Seniors Overall), Sr.; OT Brandon Kaminski (First Team-OT) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - OL), Sr.; TE Luke Laufenberg (First Team-TE) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 10 - TE), Sr.; DB Lucas Statz (First Team-DB) (WSN Class of 2015 Top 15 - DB), Sr.; OG Spencer Nellis (Second Team-OG) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - OL), Sr.; OC Alan Olkowski (Second Team-OC) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - OL), Sr.; RB/DB L.O. Johnson (Second Team-RB) (WSN Class of 2015 Top 15 - DB) (WSN Top 50 Seniors Overall), Sr.; WR/DB Riley Zuhde (Second Team-WR) (WSN Class of 2015 Top 15 - DB), Sr.; RB/WR/TE Logan Kvalo (Second Team-RB), Sr.; DL Jacob Frey (Second Team-DL), Sr.; DE Nolan Thole (Second Team-DL), Sr.; LB Jackson Madonia (Second Team-LB), Sr.; LB Kyle Pahnke (Second Team-LB), Sr.; DB Mason Steffen (Second Team-DB), Sr.; RB/DB/P Logan Beier (Second Team-P), Sr.; DB Jeremy Werner (Honorable Mention-DB), Sr.; DL Reed Ryan (Honorable Mention-DL), Jr.

2017 Schedule: Go Here

BIG Games: at Watertown August 25, at Mount Horeb/Barneveld September 1 (Madison Taxi Game of the Week), at DeForest September 8, at Reedsburg September 29

 

Waunakee Warriors football is no stranger to having a target on their back as the team to beat in the Badger North.

When Head Coach Pat Rice takes the field for his 300th game leading the Warriors to start the season, his 26th, he will do so with a Waunakee team picked unanimously to win the conference, and a team returning 18 players earning all-conference recognition a season ago.

All told, the Warriors lose seven starters from last year and over half of their letterwinners, but bring back a good deal of talent for the 2017 season, including three of the top 50 seniors in the state according to WisSports.net and 18 total all-conference winners from last season.

Waunakee is coming off of back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, but has lost in the playoffs in Level 3 in 2015 and Level 2 in 2016. While the path to an unblemished record this year is ripe with land mines in the Badger North, the Warriors still figure to be one of the top teams in the state in Division 2.

On the field, Waunakee will also be boasting a new video board and turf field for the upcoming season, which should add to the already terrific experience of a Warriors home game. The 2017 season has everyone excited, including Coach Rice.

"We lost seven starters, so we will need some unproven players to step up and play big," said Rice. "If this happens, we will be in the chase."

Returning at quaterback is senior Nate Carter, who was a first-team all-conference pick in 2016. Carter is also rated as one of the top 15 senior quarterbacks in the state according to WisSports.net.

Lining up in the backfield are three running backs who earned all-conference honors. Leading the way is senior Javian Dayne, who was a first-team all-conference pick this year and the conference's offensive player of the year who also was a second-team all-conference running back and defensive end as a sophomore. A pair of other seniors at running back made the second team all-conference list in the Badger North, L.O. Johnson and Logan Kvalo. Dayne is also one of WisSports.net's top 15 players in the class of 2018 at running back.

In the pass catching department, senior tight end Luke Laufenberg leads the way. Laufenberg was a first-team all-conference selection and is rated as one of the top ten tight ends in the senior class in Wisconsin. Senior Riley Zuhde was a second-team all-conference pick in 2016 at receiver.

Up front, three seniors who made the all-conference list return, and all three are also on WisSports.net's class of 2018 players to watch list. Tackle Brandon Kaminski (first team), guard Spencer Nellis (second team), and center Alan Olkowski (second team) all return.

Defensively, the Warriors will have the senior duo of Jacob Frey and Nolan Thole up front (both second-team all-conference picks), with junior Reed Ryan (honorable mention) also in the fold. At linebacker, seniors and second-team all-conference picks Jackson Madonia and Kyle Pahnke are back.

The secondary will feature senior Lucas Statz, a first-team all-conference selection last year and also rated in the top 15 of senior defensive backs in the state. Senior L.O. Johnson dealt with injuries last year but is also back, and is rated as another one of the state's top 15 senior defensive backs according to WisSports.net. A third defensive back, Riley Zuhde, is key in the receiving game as well, but is one of WisSports.net's top 15 defensive backs in Wisconsin. That talented trio is also joined by second-team all-conference selection Mason Steffen and honorable mention pick Jeremy Werner, both seniors.

Special teams will bring back senior Logan Beier, who made second team all-conference as a punter. The only kicker listed on the roster is Michael Saxby, a junior.

All told, the Warriors lose seven starters from last year and over half of their letterwinners, but bring back a good deal of talent for the 2017 season, including three of the top 50 seniors in the state according to WisSports.net and 18 total all-conference winners from last season.

On the schedule, Waunakee will play four straight games against 2016 playoff teams out of the gate, including three on the road. The first test comes with a home opener against Fort Atkinson, to break in Waunakee's new turf field.

Three road games in a row follow, and in Week 2, Waunakee will visit Watertown in one of the most highly-anticipated early-season games in the entire state. In Week 3, our Madison Taxi Game of the Week pits the top two teams from the Badger North last year, Waunakee and Mount Horeb/Barneveld at Mount Horeb.

After a close win in the regular season in 2016, Waunakee blew out DeForest in the playoffs last year, and the game against the Norskies comes on September 8, in Week 4, this year. The Warriors finally play at home again on September 15 against Portage.

Homecoming is September 22, versus Sauk Prairie. Then, it's back to the road for a pair of games at Reedsburg and Baraboo before wrapping up the regular season against Badger North newcomer Beaver Dam.

Waunakee is a unanimous favorite among the coaches in the Badger North (and Badger South, for that matter) to win the league title, and one of the preseason picks to make it to the state championship game. While the Warriors will be tested, especially early on, by a difficult road schedule, this could be another historic season for Waunakee.

--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska

Information from WisSports.net was used in this preview. Visit WisSports.net for everything you need to gear up for the high school sports season.

 
 
 

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