Stoughton set team marks for success in 2017, winning their first-ever playoff game and finishing 9-2 with a terrific group of seniors leading the way. 2018 will be about continuing the recent success of the Vikings program, as Stoughton seeks a third straight postseason appearance for the first time in school history.
Stoughton, which hosted the program's first-ever playoff game last season (a win over rival Oregon), had built up to the 2017 campaign, losing only to Monona Grove and Waukesha West along the way in a 9-2 season. The Vikings do lose Brady Schipper's excellence as well as some key linemen on both sides, but there are plenty of incoming juniors and seniors with size (but not necessarily experience) to fill in those spots.
Some of the players back include the Badger South's lineman of the year, Jack Nelson, who will only be a junior this season, as well as his counterpart up front, Jack True, a senior. "We'll be counting on those guys to help our front line come together," said coach Dan Prahl.
The defensive line doesn't have as clear of a picture. "It'll be a question mark," said Prahl. "We've got Jake Lenz coming back," he added, the lone returning defensive line starter. Lenz was the starting defensive end a year ago.
At least defensively, the team will have experience back, especially at linebacker. Cade Spilde (also an outstanding wrestler, whose father Dan is the co-head wrestling coach at Stoughton) is a tackling machine, and he'll be joined by Drew Pasold and Trenton Conklin. The trio of seniors have played together a long time, said Spilde.
Most of the attention on Stoughton was on the backfield, where Brady Schipper followed a zone-read blocking scheme and ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior year. The two primary contenders to pick up carries back there, said Prahl, are Dwight Walker and Quinn Arnott.
"Dwight tore his ACL in the opener up in Portage last year, but he was running hard in camp," said Prahl. Arnott picked up a handful of carries over the course of the season as a backup to Schipper.
At quarterback, Prahl will go with Adam Hobson, a junior, who only had one pass attempt last year, but did have 66 yards rushing on 10 carries. Hobson and the likely top competitor for the quarterback job, Sam Wahlin, are both over 6'2" and throw the ball pretty well, according to Prahl.
Some of the returning targets include Nathan Hutcherson, who was short in stature but full of quick-burst agility and also matched up defensively with much taller targets all season. Hutcherson took screen passes out of the backfield as the Vikings tried to get the ball in his hands as an explosive playmaker last season, and was second on the team in receptions. Another player back will be Drew Anderson, who didn't play football last season, to play at receiver. The team will be replacing eight of the 10 players who caught a pass in 2017.
A pair of home games kick off the 2018 season in Badger crossover play for the Vikings, as they'll bring in Portage and Baraboo the first two weeks of the saeson. Badger South play begins on August 31 at Middleton to play Edgewood, before heading out to Milton in Week 4.
Based on last year's standings, the schedule kicks up a notch in Week 5, when Monroe visits Collins Field. Then, it's a trip down Highway 138 to renew the rivalry with Oregon, which will be The Big 1070's Madison Taxi Game of the Week broadcast. Homecoming is September 28, against Watertown.
October begins with a tough road game at Monona Grove, last year's conference champion, before wrapping up the regular season with a home game against Fort Atkinson.
Here's The Big 1070's interview with Stoughton Vikings head coach Dan Prahl:
Stoughton Vikings - Badger South
Head Coach: Dan Prahl (4th Season), 17-13 Overall (1-2 Playoffs)
2017 Result: 9-2 (6-1), 2nd in the Badger South (Lost to Waukesha West 35-0 in Level 2 of the D2 Playoffs)
Three-Year Record: 17-13 (1-2 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 5 First-Team, 5 Second-Team, 9 Honorable Mention (19 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 13 First-Team, 10 Second-Team, 26 Honorable Mention (49 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (4): OT/DL Jack Nelson (1st Team-OL; co-OLY), Jr.; RB/LB/P Cade Spilde [🏈 WSN] (2nd Team-P), Sr.; G/DL Jack True (HM-OL), Sr.; RB/LB Drew Pasold (HM-LB), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: DE/OL Jake Lenz, Sr.; LB/TE Trenton Conklin, Sr.; RB/DB Dwight Walker, Sr.; QB/DB Sam Wahlin, Sr.; WR/DB Kadin Milbauer, Sr.; WR/DB Drew Anderson, Sr.; QB/DB Adam Hobson, Jr.; RB/DB Quinn Arnott, Jr.; WR/DB Nathan Hutcherson, Jr.; WR/DB Jack Sanford, Jr.
BIG Games: at Oregon, September 21 [🔊 Madison Taxi Game of the Week]; vs Watertown, September 28 (Homecoming); at Monona Grove, October 5