A state champion emerged from the six-team Capitol North conference in 2017, and the league has produced six Level 3 teams in the past three seasons (Columbus, Lake Mills, and Lodi each accomplishing the feat twice). That's enough to note the depth of the conference, which also includes three other solid programs in Lakeside Lutheran, Poynette, and Luther Prep.
One of the drawbacks to a five-game conference schedule is that it's nearly impossible to make the playoffs without outright clinching a berth. That's because a 2-3 record falls behind every 4-5 and 3-4 mark in the state of Wisconsin, so a playoff team from the Capitol North has to win three of their five conference games.
In the WFCA's football-only conference proposal, Luther Prep gets shipped out to a separate bracket of the Capitol South, with mostly Trailways teams in it, while Poynette returns to the South Central conference. Five of the 11 teams in the current Capitol Conference end up switching leagues, with one of those five moving from one side of the Capitol to the other (Luther Prep). The remaining four teams will be in a league with former Rock Valley members should the proposal go through as written now, which means football powerhouses like Big Foot and Brodhead/Juda as well as recent upstarts Turner and Clinton would be a part of the revamped league.
With outstanding seniors graduating from Lodi and Lake Mills, and a good core coming back for Lakeside Lutheran, Luther Prep, plus bounce-back years for Columbus and Poynette in play, it's anyone's guess as to how the conference will shake out. Defending Division 4 state champion Lodi will have a big challenge in order to retain their conference crown, not to mention their state title in what appears to be a fairly deep medium-sized school field in Wisconsin this season. Below is our preview of the Capitol North Conference. The Big 1070's Jimmie Kaska talks to the coaches and projects the upcoming season:
Capitol North Conference
Conference Champions: Lodi - 2017; Columbus - 2016; Lodi - 2015; Lodi - 2014
State Participants: Lodi - 2017 (🏆D4 Champions), Lodi - 2015 (D4 Runners-Up)
2017 Combined Playoff Record: 7-2 (Lodi 5-0)
2017 Combined Non-Conference Record: 17-7 (Lodi, Lake Mills 4-0)
BIG Games: Lake Country Lutheran at Lakeside Lutheran, August 31; Lodi at Columbus, September 28; Lakeside Lutheran at Lodi, October 12
WSN Top Seniors: WR Will DeNoyer, Lakeside Lutheran; TE Zachary Gregorius, Luther Prep; OL Harley Jones, Lake Mills; K Adam Mitchell, Lake Mills; QB Jack Monis, Lakeside Lutheran; LB Casey Ponyicsanyi, Lakeside Lutheran; OL Caleb Raymond, Lakeside Lutheran
2018 Capitol North Preseason All-Conference Team
QB: Jack Monis [🏈WSN] (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (2)
RB/FB: Preston Borchardt (SR), Luther Prep (2)
WR: Will DeNoyer [🏈WSN] (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (1); Trent Casper (SR), Columbus (2); Matt Johnson (JR), Lake Mills (2)
TE: Zachary Gregorius [🏈WSN] (SR), Luther Prep (1)
DL: Harley Jones (SR), Lake Mills (1); Christian Barnharst (SR), Poynette (1); Skyler See (SR), Poynette (1); Colby Savich (JR), Poynette (2)
LB: Casey Ponyicsanyi [🏈WSN] (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (1*); Trent Casper (SR), Columbus (2); Austin Soehle (SR), Lodi (2); Cooper Buccholtz (SR), Lake Mills (H); Kyle Kube (SR), Lake Mills (H); Gavin Lira (SR), Lake Mills (H); Caleb Reddeman (SR), Poynette (H)
DB: J.T. Toepfer (SR), Lake Mills (2); Jack Monis (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (H); Teagan Herschleb (JR), Columbus (H); Brevin Jegerlehner (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (H); Riley Faust (SR), Lodi (H)
RET: Brevin Jegerlehner (SR), Lakeside Lutheran (H); Brayden O'Connor (JR), Poynette (H)
K: Adam Mitchell [🏈WSN] (SR), Lake Mills (2*)
All Selections Are Returning 2017 All-Conference Picks - 1=1st Team, 2=2nd Team, H=Honorable Mention; *indicates multiple-time selection at the position
Columbus Cardinals - Capitol North
Head Coach: Calvin Zenz (2nd Season) 2-7
2017 Result: 2-7 (1-4), 5th in the Capitol North
2017 All-Conference Honors: 3 First-Team, 5 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (10 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (3): WR/LB Trent Casper (2nd Team-WR and LB), Sr.; OL/DL James Roche (HM-OL), Jr.; DB/WR Teagan Herschleb (HM-DB), Jr.
BIG Games: at New Glarus/Monticello, August 31; at Lakeside Lutheran, September 13; vs Lodi, September 28
Lake Mills L-Cats - Capitol North
Head Coach: Dan Ferkovich (5th Season); 28-24 Overall (4-2 Playoffs)
2017 Result: 10-2 (4-1), 2nd in the Capitol North (Lost to Lodi 35-0 in Level 3)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 7 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 5 Honorable Mention (16 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (7): OL/DE Harley Jones [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-OL and 1st Team-DE), Sr.; WR Matt Johnson (2nd Team-WR), Jr.; QB/WR/DB J.T. Toepfer (2nd Team-DB), Sr.; OL/LB Cooper Buccholtz (HM-LB), Sr.; LB/WR Kyle Kube (HM-LB), Sr.; LB/RB Gavin Lira (HM-LB), Sr.; K/P Adam Mitchell [🏈 WSN] (HM-K in 2017, 2nd Team-K in 2016), Sr.
BIG Games: at Menomonie, August 16 (🔊 iHeartRadio); at New Glarus/Monticello, August 24; at Lakeside Lutheran, September 28; at Lodi, October 5
Lakeside Lutheran Warriors (Lake Mills) - Capitol North
Head Coach: Paul Bauer, 18th year; 108-63 Overall (7-13 Playoffs) - 6 Conference Championships
2017 Result: 6-4 (3-2), 3rd in the Capitol North (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 3 playoffs to Lake Mills, 42-26)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 4 First-Team, 5 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (6): LB Casey Ponyicsanyi [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-LB and 2nd Team-LB in 2016), Sr.; RT/DT Caleb Raymond (1st Team-OL) [🏈 WSN], Sr.; WR/LB/ST Will DeNoyer (1st Team-WR) [🏈 WSN], Sr.; QB/DB Jack Monis (2nd Team-QB and HM-DB in 2016) [🏈 WSN], Sr.; C/DL Tyler Holzhueter (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; DB/RB/ST Brevin Jegerlehner (HM-DB and ST in 2016), Sr.
BIG Games:: vs Lake Country Lutheran, August 31; at Luther Prep, September 21; vs Lake Mills, September 28; at Lodi, October 12
Lodi Blue Devils - Capitol North
Head Coach: Dave Puls (15th Season), 124-36 Overall (22-13 Playoffs) - 2018 State Champions
2017 Result: 14-0 (5-0), 🏆1st in the Capitol North (🏆Won Division 4 State Championship over St. Croix Central, 17-10 in overtime)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 11 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (15 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (2): LB/RB/K Austin Soehle (2nd Team-LB), Sr.; DB/WR Riley Faust (HM-DB), Sr.
BIG Games: vs Saint Viator (IL), August 31; at Columbus, September 28; vs Lakeside Lutheran, October 12 (Homecoming)
Poynette Pumas - Capitol North
Head Coach: Greg Kallungi (4th Season), 11-16 Overall
2017 Result: 2-7 (0-5), 6th in the Capitol North
2017 All-Conference Honors: 2 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 4 Honorable Mention (9 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (5): G/DT Christian Barnharst, Sr. (1st Team-DL in 2016); G/DT Skyler See (1st Team-DL), Sr.; FB/LB Caleb Reddeman (HM-LB), Sr.; TE/DE/LB/P Colby Savich (2nd Team-DE), Jr.; RB/WR/DB/ST Brayden O'Connor (HM-ST), Jr.
BIG Games: vs Adams/Friendship, August 24; vs Lodi, September 21; vs Columbus, October 12 (Homecoming)
Luther Prep Phoenix (Watertown) - Capitol North
Head Coach: Justin Gregorius (5th Season), 14-31 Overall
2017 Result: 5-4 (2-3), 4th in the Capitol North
2017 All-Conference Honors: 3 First-Team, 8 Second-Team, 0 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (2): TE/DE Zachary Gregorius (🏈 WSN) (1st Team-TE), Sr.; RB/LB Preston Borchardt (2nd Team-RB), Sr.
BIG Games: at Lodi, September 14; vs Lakeside Lutheran, September 21; at Lake Mills, October 12