2018 High School Football Preview: Badger North

posted by Jimmie Kaska - 

Waunakee emerged as the Division 2 state champion in 2017, and despite heavy graduation losses, remain the favorite in the conference heading into 2018. However, the Badger North has a solid crop of contenders ready to challenge the Warriors for the conference crown.

Three other teams from the conference made the playoffs in 2017. Mount Horeb/Barneveld lost only to Waunakee during the regular season and advanced to Level 2 of the Division 3 playoffs. DeForest finished third, and quietly exited in Level 1. Both of those teams bring back a good core of players to contend with in the upcoming season.

Beaver Dam's first foray into the Badger North was fortuitous, as the Golden Beavers got a playoff bid (albeit as an eight seed, facing Waunakee in the opening round). Reedsburg fell out of playoff contention late in the year, and the final nail in the coffin was a loss in the last game of the season to then-winless rival Baraboo. Portage lost several close games, but won back-to-back conference games for the first time in a few years. And, Sauk Prairie navigated adversity to build for the future under former and now interim coach Scott Schutt.

The WFCA's football-only realignment proposal doesn't directly affect the Badger North, as all eight teams will remain. However, crossover games would be affected, and so too would the notion of splitting into large and small divisions come back to light. Even if the conference isn't a target of reorganization, the Badger Conference might do it of their own volition anyways. Below is our preview of the Badger North Conference. The Big 1070's Jimmie Kaska and WFCA Hall of Fame and state champion head coach Mike Stassi talk to the coaches and preview the upcoming season:

Badger North Conference

2018 Full Schedule

Conference Champions: Waunakee - 2017; Waunakee - 2016; Waunakee - 2015; DeForest and Mount Horeb/Barneveld, 2014

State Participants: Waunakee - 2017 (πŸ†D2 Champions)

2017 Combined Playoff Record: 6-3 (Waunakee 5-0)

2017 Combined Non-Conference Record: 6-10 (Waunakee and Mount Horeb/Barneveld 2-0)

BIG Games: DeForest at Oregon, August 17; Mount Horeb/Barneveld at Waunakee, August 31; DeForest at Waunakee, September 7 πŸ”ŠMadison Taxi Game of the Week; Mount Horeb/Barneveld at DeForest, October 5

WSN Top Seniors: TE Caden Blum, Baraboo; LB Tyler Denu, Mount Horeb/Barneveld; P Trey Fancher, Waunakee; TE Austin Keller, Waunakee; WR Sawyer Maly, Waunakee; OL Nathan Miller, Waunakee; DL Reed Ryan, Waunakee; K Nate Stevens, Waunakee; RB Malik Winston, Mount Horeb/Barneveld; OL Gabe Zander, Waunakee

2018 Badger North Preseason All-Conference Team

QB: Kendrick Jimenez (SR), Beaver Dam (H); Trey Schroeder (JR), DeForest (H)

RB/FB: Malik Winston [🏈WSN] (SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (1*); Evan Armstrong (JR), DeForest (2); Casey Campbell (JR), Reedsburg (H)

WR: Sawyer Maly [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (1); Logan Hackl (SR), DeForest (2*); Caden Lee (SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (H)

TE: Gunnar Nortman (SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (H); Caden Blum [🏈WSN] (SR), Baraboo (-); Austin Keller [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (-)

OL: Gabe Zander [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (1); Nathan Miller [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (2); Zach Junck (SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2); John Smozynski (SR), DeForest (2); Casey Faust (SR), DeForest (H); Clayton Kopel (SR), Portage (H); Max Olinger (SR), MountHoreb/Barneveld (H); John Schmitt (JR), Reedsburg (H)

DL: Reed Ryan [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (1*); Edwyn Erickson (JR), Deforest (2); Beck Meyer (SR), DeForest (H); Cole Schmidtknecht (SR), DeForest (H)

LB: Tyler Denu  [🏈WSN(SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2); Parker Bruenig (JR), Portage (H); Garrett Hertzfeldt (JR), Portage (H); Gabe Larson (SR), Baraboo (H); Blake McCurdy (SR), Waunakee (H)

DB: Adam Bird (SR), Beaver Dam (2); Caden Lee (SR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (H); Nick Robson (SR), Waunakee (H); Jon Zobel (SR), Reedsburg (H)

K: Nate Stevens [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (1); Cris Petrusatti (JR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2*)

P: Cris Petrusatti (JR), Mount Horeb/Barneveld (1); Trey Fancher [🏈WSN] (SR), Waunakee (-)

All Selections Are Returning 2017 All-Conference Picks - 1=1st Team, 2=2nd Team, H=Honorable Mention; *indicates multiple-time selection at the position

Baraboo Thunderbirds - Badger North

Head Coach: Steve Turkington (5th Season), 7-30 Overall

2017 Result: 1-8 (1-6), 7th in the Badger North

2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 1 Honorable Mention (2 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (1): LB/RB Gabe Larson (HM-LB), Sr.

Other Players To Watch: TE/DE Caden Blum [🏈 WSN], Sr.

BIG Games: vs Monona Grove, August 17; vs Sauk Prairie, September 28 (Homecoming); at Waunakee, October 5; at Reedsburg, October 12

Beaver Dam Golden Beavers - Badger North

Head Coach: Steve Kuenzi (5th Season), 12-25; 8th Overall, 16-48 (0-1 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 4-6 (4-3) - 4th in the Badger North (Lost to Waunakee in Level 1 of the Division 2 Playoffs 57-0)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 1 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 6 Honorable Mention (10 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): DB/WR Adam Bird (2nd Team-DB), Sr.; QB/DB/P Kendrick Jimenez (HM-QB), Sr.

BIG Games: at Watertown, August 17; vs Mount Horeb/Barneveld, September 7; vs Reedsburg, September 14; vs DeForest, September 28; vs Waunakee, October 12

DeForest Norskies - Badger North

Head Coach: Mike Minick (18th Season), 131-61 (19-17 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 6-4 (5-2), 3rd in the Badger North (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 2 playoffs to Slinger, 20-7)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 1 First-Team, 9 Second-Team, 7 Honorable Mention (17 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (8): G/DL John Smozynski (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; RB/DB Logan Hackl (HM-RB; 2nd Team-WR in 2016), Sr.; OL/DL Casey Faust (HM-OL), Sr.; DE/WR Beck Meyer (HM-DL), Sr.; OL/DL Cole Schmidtknecht (HM-DL), Sr.; RB/DB Evan Armstrong (2nd Team-RB), Jr.; OL/DL Edwyn Erickson (2nd Team-DL), Jr.; QB/DB Trey Schroeder (HM-QB), Jr.

BIG Games: at Oregon, August 17; at Waunakee, September 7 (πŸ”ŠMadison Taxi Game of the Week); vs Mount Horeb/Barneveld, October 5

Mount Horeb/Barneveld Vikings - Badger North

Head Coach: Bret St. Arnauld (1st Season), 0-0 (5th Season Overall: 17-22; 1-2 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 9-2 (6-1), 2nd in the Badger North (Lost in Level 2 of the D3 Playoffs to Catholic Memorial, 26-20)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 7 First-Team, 7 Second-Team, 10 Honorable Mention (24 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (7): RB/LB Malik Winston [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-RB; 2nd Team-RB in 2016), Sr.; K/P/RB/LB Cris Petrusatti (1st Team-P and 2nd Team-K; HM-K in 2016), Jr.; C/DL Zach Junck (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; LB/TE Tyler Denu [🏈 WSN] (2nd Team-LB), Sr.; TE/LB Gunnar Nortman (HM-TE), Sr.; WR/DB Caden Lee (HM-WR and DB), Sr.; OL/DL Max Olinger (HM-OL), Sr.

BIG Games: vs Oregon, August 24; at Waunakee, August 31; at Reedsburg, September 21; at DeForest, October 5

Portage Warriors - Badger North

Head Coach: Bob Hepp (1st Season), 2-7; 20th Season Overall, 102-72 (8-11 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 2-7 (2-5), 5th in the Badger North

2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (4 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (1): G/DL Clayton Kopel (HM-OL), Sr.

BIG Games: vs Monona Grove, August 24; vs Waunakee, September 14; vs DeForest, October 12

Reedsburg Beavers - Badger North

Head Coach: Brian Pottinger (13th Season), 73-57 (17-6 Playoffs) - State Championship in 2009

2017 Result: 2-7 (2-5) - 5th in the Badger North

2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 0 Second-Team, 13 Honorable Mention (13 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (3): DB/WR Jon Zobel (HM-DB), Sr.; OL John Schmitt (HM-OL), Jr.; RB/DB Casey Campbell (HM-RB), Jr.

BIG Games: at DeForest, August 31; at Beaver Dam, September 14 (Beaver Bowl); at Waunakee, September 28; vs Baraboo, October 12

Sauk Prairie Eagles - Badger North

Interim Head Coach: Scott Schutt (8th Season), 25-41 Overall (1-2 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 2-7 (1-6), 7th in the Badger North

2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 0 Second-Team, 6 Honorable Mention (6 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): LB/OL Garrett Hertzfeldt (HM-LB), Jr.; LB/WR Parker Bruenig (HM-LB), Jr.

BIG Games: vs Edgewood, August 24; vs Waunakee, September 21; vs Beaver Dam, October 5 (Homecoming and Senior Night)

Waunakee Warriors - Badger North

Head Coach: Pat Rice (27th Season), 274-39 Overall (State Champion 1999, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017), WFCA Hall of Fame 2014

2017 Result: 14-0 (7-0), πŸ†1st in the Badger North (πŸ†Won Division 2 State Championship 14-13 over Brookfield Central)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 18 First-Team, 6 Second-Team, 4 Honorable Mention (28 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (7): DL/OL Reed Ryan [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-DL) (HM-DL in 2016), Sr.; K Nate Stevens [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-K), Sr.; C/LS/DL Gabe Zander [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-OL), Sr.; WR/DB Sawyer Maly [🏈 WSN] (1nd Team-WR), Sr.; T/DL Nathan Miller [🏈 WSN] (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; S/WR Nick Robson (HM-DB), Sr.; LB/OL Blake McCurdy (HM-LB), Sr.

Other Players To Watch: TE/LB Austin Keller [🏈 WSN] , Sr.; P/RB/DB Trey Fancher [🏈 WSN], Sr.

BIG Games: vs Mount Horeb/Barneveld, August 31; vs DeForest, September 7 (πŸ”ŠMadison Taxi Game of the Week); vs Reedsburg, September 28 (Homecoming)

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