The Capitol North produced a state champion in 2017 in Lodi, and sent two teams to at least Level 3 of the WIAA football playoffs for the third straight season.
Lodi's run to their historic state championship came without a loss in 2017. After blazing through the regular season, Lodi nearly fell in Level 1 to Mayville, but rallied for a 38-31 win. Their next-closes game was the state title game, which they won in overtime over defending champion St. Croix Central, 17-10. The Blue Devils had advanced to the state semifinals five times since 2005, making it to state twice and winning it for the first time last year. (Oddly enough, the result made it so that Lodi and St. Croix Central now have identical all-time playoff records of 24-18).
After mustering only three wins in five playoff appearances in school history, Lake Mills advanced all the way to Level 3 in 2016 and 2017, winning a combined four games in two seasons during an unprecedented run of success in the school's history. The L-Cats lost only two games during the season, both to eventual conference and state champion Lodi.
A four-year playoff drought ended for Lakeside Lutheran in 2017, after a series of near-playoff misses. The Warriors lost four games: two to Lake Mills, including in the playoffs; once to Lodi; and once to Elkhorn, which was the Elks' only win of the season in Week 2.
Luther Prep had a winning season, bouncing back after a disappointing 2016 year in which the Phoenix went 2-7. However, Luther Prep dropped their final two games of the season to Lodi and Lakeside Lutheran to miss the playoffs, after playing a fairly ambitious non-conference schedule that included eventual D6 champion Saint Mary's Springs and a playoff team in University School to open the season.
Columbus graduated 10 all-conference players from an 11-1 conference championship team in 2016, which ended in Level 3, and fell all the way to 2-7 in 2017. The Cardinals played a hard schedule, and they'll have to do it again in 2018 with another six all-conference players graduating.
After a somewhat promising start to 2017, Poynette dropped the final six games of their campaign, including five conference match-ups. However, the Pumas had close games against Columbus (two points) and Luther Prep (nine points) down the stretch, as Poynette battled to keep their playoff hopes alive. It's now a three-year drought of playoff appearances for the Pumas, the longest in school history since 1990-1995.
Game Audio: D4 Championship: Lodi 17, St. Croix Central 10 (OT)
2017 Conference Standings: Lodi won the conference at 5-0. Lake Mills lost to Lodi and finished 4-1 in second place. Lakeside Lutheran lost to each team ahead of them in the standings to end up at 3-2. Luther Prep beat Columbus (1-4) and Poynette (0-5) to miss the postseason by one game.
2017's Top Games: It's really hard to top a state championship game that ends in overtime with a school hoisting their first-ever football championship after taking down the defending champions. Lodi's 17-10 win over St. Croix Central for the D-4 title was one for the ages... Lodi almost didn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Mayville scored twice in the fourth quarter to take a 31-24 lead, but a pair of Jacob Heyroth touchdowns in the fourth quarter were enough to send the Blue Devils on to Level 2... Poynette held a 20-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter against Luther Prep, but the Phoenix would (wait for it) rise from the ashes to put up a 23-spot in the fourth quarter to win 29-20, scoring three times in the final 4:40 of the game to seal the victory... Columbus earned their only conference win of teh season by holding off Poynette in the final minutes, as the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete to tie the game by the Pumas with under five minutes to play as Columbus held on for a 21-19 win... Lakeside Lutheran led for the first time in the game with three minutes to play, but Elkhorn scored with 90 seconds left and got in on a two-point conversion to take a 32-31 win over the Warriors for their only win of the season. In the same week, Columbus lost a battle with Platteville by one score, 41-34, after leading 28-21 at halftime.
All-Conference Honors: Lodi had plenty of representation on the all-Capitol North first team, with 11 total honors among nine players. Only one of those players, defensive back Mitchell Nellen, returns to the defending conference and state champions. Lake Mills came in second with seven first-team honors among four players, and will welcome back one of them, lineman Harley Jones, for 2018. Columbus graduated all five of the Cardinals' players who had earned a first-team all-conference nod, but will have some solid two-way talent returning for the upcoming campaign, including WR/LB Trent Casper. Lakeside Lutheran's playoff season featured some big-time performances by a few of their multi-sport athletes, and like their basketball team, a good core of them will be back for the upcoming season. Will DeNoyer is one of three first-team all-conference picks, earning his spot at receiver. Lineman Caleb Raymond and linebacker Casey Ponyicsanyi also got first-team nods. 2017 second-team quarterback Jack Monis finished behind only Ben Dunkleberger of Lake Mills in the pecking order for conference quarterbacks, and Dunkleberger, who was one of the most prolific players in L-Cats history, has graduated. Luther Prep will have one of their trio of 2017 first-team all-conference players back, tight end Zachary Gregorius, while Poynette will have three players back who have received some form of all-conference honors along their defensive line.
All-Region Honors: The Lake Mills combo of QB Ben Dunkleberger and WR Hayden Iverson, who also teamed up in basketball, represented the L-Cats in the WFCA All-Region honors. Lodi sent five players, all seniors from their state title team, to the All-Region squad: RB/DE Jacob Heyroth, lineman Lucas Brisky, DE Kade Crissinger, FB/LB Max Barreau, who made the sack at the end of overtime to seal Lodi's state title, and DB Dominic Scola.
All-State Honors: Lake Mills' dynamic duo of Ben Dunkleberger and Hayden Iverson made WFCA All-State in 2017, Jacob Heyroth of Lodi rumbled his way to All-State honors as well, rushing for over 2,900 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2017 en route to a state championship.
A Quick Look Ahead: We'll have a full preview of each team, and the conference, coming up as we get closer to the start of the season on August 17. In addition to some of the top conference match-ups, some of the more intriguing non-conference clashes include Lake Mills' trip up to Menomonie in Week 1, Lakeside Lutheran playing D5 runner up Lake Country Lutheran in Week 3, and defending D4 champ Lodi getting an Illinois playoff team in Saint Viator in Week 3 as well. Look for individual team previews to roll out in July, with full conference previews to come in August.
2018 High School Football Preview Schedule
Late June/Early July: 2017 In Review (by conference)
Mid-July: Team-by-team previews
Early August: Conference previews
Coming Next: July 3: Rock Valley 2017 In Review
Daily High School Sports Content Schedule
June 28: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #5: Waunakee 14, Brookfield Central 13
June 29: Capitol South 2017 In Review
July 2: Capitol North 2017 In Review
July 3: Rock Valley 2017 In Review
July 5: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #4: Stoughton 30, Oregon 27
July 6: Other Area Teams 2017 In Review *Trailways, 8-player, and southwestern Wisconsin schools
July 9: Badger South 2017 In Review
July 10: Badger North 2017 In Review
July 11: Big Eight 2017 In Review
July 12: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #3: Cambridge 25, Belleville 19
July 13: 2017 High School Football In Review
July 16: Start of Team-by-Team Previews
Julu 19: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #2: Madison West 30, Middleton 27
July 26: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #1: Lodi 17, St. Croix Central 10
August 6: Start of Conference Previews
August 13: Prep Report and Game of the Week content begins