Badger Conference play begins this week with three match-ups of undefeated programs. Plus, 2-0 clashes in the Big 8, Rock Valley, and non-conference action.
⭐ Big Five Games - Week 3, 2018 ⭐
1. Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2-0) at Waunakee (2-0) - Badger North
2. Lake Country Lutheran (2-0) at Lakeside Lutheran (2-0) - Non-Conference
3. Verona (2-0) at Janesville Craig (2-0) - Big 8
4. McFarland (2-0) at Beloit Turner (2-0) - Rock Valley
5. Oregon (1-1) at Monona Grove (2-0) - Badger South (🔊 Game of the Week Broadcast)
Big 8 (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐Verona (2-0) at Janesville Craig (2-0): The winner will be no worse than tied for first place in the Big 8 with only one other team (Madison Memorial, should they win), so there's plenty on the line in this Week 3 contest at Monterey Stadium. Craig's defense has been outstanding in the early going, and they'll have their hands full dealing with the misdirection and versatility of Verona's offense. Verona, meanwhile, will have to contend with another big line this week, and can't afford a letdown after a big win over Middleton in Week 2. For Craig, it'll be their toughest test to date, and a chance to validate their excellent start.
Middleton (1-1) at Madison West (1-1): The last time these teams met was in the second round of last year's playoffs, when West scored with 15 seconds left to upset the Cardinals 30-27. That may be a motivating factor for Middleton, although most of last year's contributors graduated. Still, fresh off of a tough loss at Verona in which the offense got into the red zone to put the game away in the fourth quarter, but got moved back due to a penalty and watched Verona go the other way for a 69-yard scoring drive to take the lead for good, the Cardinals have plenty to play for here. Middleton lost in Week 2 last year against Sun Prairie and rallied to win out until the playoffs. Same goes for West as far as big games go, since the Regents saw a tough one slip away against La Follette in the opening week, but got a massive game from Kelvin Opoku-Appoh to upend East last Saturday. If either team wants in on the conference title race, this is a must-win, and the losing team will have to win four of six to clinch a playoff spot.
#10 Madison Memorial (2-0) at Madison East (0-2): Madison Memorial continued their impressive start to the season by downing La Follette with a big fourth quarter, and now will get another Madison city foe as the Spartans gear up for East. A fast start will be the key in this one, as Memorial uses the full game to set up for big plays later on, while East could use some early momentum to keep them in against their cross-town counterparts and try to snap the Purgolders' losing streak.
Janesville Parker (0-2) at Sun Prairie (1-1): Sun Prairie's defense rebounded nicely after the opening-week loss to Madison Memorial by shutting out Beloit Memorial, and it comes at a great stretch of the schedule as the Cardinals work their way back into the Big 8 conference title race. It's not as fortunate for Janesville Parker, as the Vikings have struggled on offense against two very solid opponents to start the year, and they'll need to move the ball against Sun Prairie to have any kind of success in Week 3.
Madison La Follette (1-1) at Beloit Memorial (0-2): It's only the third week of the season, but for two teams with playoff aspirations, this one looms large as a potential turning point. If La Follette can get to 2-1, they're likely halfway to a playoff spot, while Beloit has to avoid an 0-3 start, which would require them to have to win four of their final six games to have a chance at the postseason. The Lancers survived a game against West to open the season, but didn't do as well against Memorial, fading away late in their second intra-city contest in as many weeks. La Follette had trouble against a big back in Kam Marshall against Memorial, while Beloit couldn't move the ball very well against Sun Prairie.
Badger North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐#7 Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2-0) at #2 Waunakee (2-0): Like last year, this contest has Badger North championship implications about it. MH/B hung with Waunakee for most of last year's game before the Warriors pushed through in the fourth quarter to put down the Vikings. Despite the graduation losses on both sides, this appears to be one of the biggest games in the state in Week 3, with Waunakee piling up 103 points in two weeks while Mount Horeb/Barneveld has etched some names atop the state leaderboards in offensive production. The Vikings had 626 yards against Oregon last week, and that balanced offense might be a key for MH/B as they try to thwart Waunakee. The Warriors are tied for the state lead with a 16-game winning streak.
Reedsburg (2-0) at DeForest (1-1): As far as undercards go, this is a pretty solid one. DeForest bounced back from an opening-week loss to a pretty good Oregon team by blowing out Monroe, who Reedsburg defeated 28-7 in the opening week. Both teams have demonstrated they can move the ball at will, especially on the ground. It'll be up to the defenses, both of which shut out opponents last week, to answer the bell again. It'll be the first game for Reedsburg since dealing with major flooding in town this week.
Beaver Dam (1-1) at Baraboo (0-2): The Golden Beavers blew the doors off of Fort Atkinson after being frustrated in Week 1 against Watertown, and their opponent will be Baraboo, as the Thunderbirds nearly stole a win on the road against Stoughton, but lost as the Vikings rallied to score 28 unanswered in a 28-14 loss for Baraboo. Both teams seem improved this year, however, and have solid senior classes. This may end up being a playoff eligibility-deciding game down the road, so there's plenty at stake for both squads.
Portage (0-2) at Sauk Prairie (0-2): Portage had a brutal Crossover schedule, getting both Monona Grove and Stoughton (like Baraboo did as well). If those experiences served them well, they'll be pretty well prepared for Sauk Prairie, as the Eagles were shut out last week by Edgewood. A win here is an important first step if either program hopes to return to the playoffs. The old adage is that the conference season wipes the slate clean and everyone is 0-0.
Badger South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐Oregon (1-1) at #7 Monona Grove (2-0): (🔊 Madison Taxi Game of the Week Broadcast) - You can read our full preview here.
#9 Stoughton (2-0) at Edgewood (1-1) - at Middleton: After a scare from Baraboo, Stoughton will take on the Edgewood Crusaders, fresh off of their shutout win last week, their second win in their past three games dating to last year after a long losing streak. While last year's result was fairly one-sided, this could be a much more interesting game, as both teams appear to be healthy heading into conference play, as injuries were a major issue for both programs in 2017. Edgewood's first shutout in nearly six years is a big step for the Crusaders under first-year coach Jesse Norris.
Milton (1-1) at Monroe (0-2): This could be a defensive battle in some regard, although both teams are capable of moving the ball well. Milton has out-scored opponents by eight points this year, falling last week to Reedsburg 6-0. Reedsburg topped Monroe 28-7 in Week 1, so there's common opponents in this match-up. Milton watched a 3-0 start fizzle last year, with a number of close losses, while Monroe needs to find some offense against what should be a pretty solid defense.
Watertown (1-1) at Fort Atkinson (0-2): It's hard to read too much into the results of a game against Waunakee, but Watertown has now faced the Warriors in Crossover play the past two years and been outscored 100-7. If you toss those results aside, the Goslings have been one of the most productive offenses in either Badger conference, and this year there's some indication the run game could be a nice supplement to the spread attack. Fort Atkinson is playing through heavy graduation losses, but got their first touchdown of the season last week. It'll be something to build upon after two blowout losses to begin the season, but the second season starts now.
Capitol Non-Conference Games (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
(Thursday) Belleville (3-0) 35, Wisconsin Dells (1-2) 6: Another road-grading effort for the Belleville Wildcats' outstanding offensive line, boosting Belleville to their second straight 3-0 start.
(Thursday) Marshall (1-2) 45, Adams-Friendship 32 (0-3): A wild back-and-forth game through three quarters (it was 6-0 after one quarter) with big play after big play, the Cardinals were able to win the final 18 minutes and the game. Dylan Horstmeyer had a number of big runs in the game.
(Thursday) Wautoma (2-1) 49, Waterloo (0-3) 19: The defending South Central champs, the Wautoma Hornets, rolled to a 49-19 win in this SCC-Capitol Crossover contest to bounce back after last week's loss.
Columbus (0-2) at New Glarus/Monticello (1-1): Each team is looking for a rebound after big losses last week in this lone Capitol crossover of Week 3. Columbus is the larger school, but is a fairly young team, and NG/M brings back loads of experience. Should be an interesting game regardless.
⭐#2 Lake Country Lutheran (2-0) at Lakeside Lutheran (2-0): This is one of the most interesting statewide match-ups this week. Lake Country Lutheran looks every bit the part of a program intent on returning to Camp Randall, bringing back plenty of their team from last year's runner-up effort in D5, while Lakeside Lutheran is working behind a strong senior class and one of the favorites in a D4-laden conference as well as good position for a deep playoff run.
Horicon/Hustisford (2-0) at Cambridge (2-0): A fascinating match-up, the Marshmen have scored 71 points in two games, and are a high-powered D4 coming into a game against a sturdy D6 opponent. Cambridge is stocked with excellent two-way athletes, so this could be a fun one at Bob Nodolf Field this Friday.
Saint Viator (IL) (0-1) at #2 Lodi (2-0): Lodi will defend its 16-game winning streak against a playoff team from the northern suburbs of Chicago, Saint Viator, as the Lions led 13-6 last week but lost 28-13 in their opener.
Mauston (2-0) at Lake Mills (1-1): Another excellent Week 3 non-conference match-up, Mauston has only given up eight points in two games. Lake Mills has played a difficult schedule so far, playing last year's Big Rivers and Capitol South champs so far, and now gets last year's South Central runner-up and conference favorite for this year.
Poynette (2-0) at Nekoosa (0-2): It's like old times again for Poynette, playing a South Central foe, but the Pumas bring a tested defense to this match-up and intentions of stealing a playoff spot in one of the state's deepest conferences, the Capitol North.
Westfield (0-2) at Luther Prep (1-1): Luther Prep has had two winning seasons but no playoff appearances in the past three years. Another good run through non-conference play could be important for finally breaking through in a tough Capitol North, although it didn't work in those afore-mentioned seasons.
Rock Valley (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐McFarland (2-0) at Beloit Turner (2-0): With how things are looking in the Rock Valley, this one has conference title implications written all over it. McFarland officially arrived as a contender by beating up Jefferson in Week 2, whereas Turner has been hovering near the top of the standings for the past few years (minus an injury-filled season a couple years back). A win for either team not only puts them one win away from a likely playoff spot, but puts them ahead as one of the favorites to win the league in 2018.
Brodhead/Juda (2-0) at Edgerton (1-1): A fascinating match-up in that the Cardinals have faced two teams that lost a ton to graduation the past two years, and this will be the first game in which they face one of the up-and-coming programs in the Rock Valley. For Edgerton, a victory puts them on track for a playoff return, perhaps a little ahead of schedule given how many sophomores and juniors are in their lineup.
Evansville/Albany (0-2) at Jefferson (1-1): For the past several years, this was a crucial game in conference title hopes. While it still may play out that way, Evansville/Albany has yet to face the projected top finishers in the conference such as East Troy and Turner, so their margin for error is fairly small moving forward. Jefferson is coming off of a loss as well, and both teams are looking to regain their form from the past several years and get back into the Rock Valley title discussion.
Big Foot (0-2) at East Troy (2-0): East Troy's ability to score points and pile up yardage is a concern here because Big Foot has given up plenty of yards and points already in two games to start the year. However, the Chiefs have also been tested by a couple of the better teams in the league already, and that should be valuable experience against the Trojans.
Whitewater (0-2) at Clinton (0-2): Clinton's conference title defense is off on the wrong foot, and they'll likely have to win out in order to have a shot at clinching a share of the conference crown to extend their streak. However, the goal before that is to become playoff-eligible, and while it may only take four wins to get there, there's only seven weeks left to do it for the Cougars, who were hit hard by graduation losses. Whitewater could pick up a huge win over the defending conference champs to spur along their rebuilding.
More Southern Wisconsin Games (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
Trailways-Small: #9 Lourdes Academy (2-0) at #4 Fall River (2-0): A huge game in conference play, Fall River got the better of a pretty solid Wild Rose program last week. Next up is conference favorite Lourdes Academy, in a game that could go a long ways in deciding the winner of the Trailways-Small.
Trailways-Small: Johnson Creek (2-0) at Deerfield (0-2): The conference season kicks off with a showdown between two schools separated by a few miles of County Highway B. Deerfield's had a pair of tough opponents to start the year, while Johnson Creek is piling up points at an alarming rate so far this year.
Non-Conference: (Saturday, 1pm) #8 Westby (2-0) at #7 Prairie du Chien (2-0): Both teams are averaging right around 400 yards per game, with Prairie du Chien doing it a little more through the air behind the talented arm of Gavin Gillitzer, but also boasting leading rusher and receiver Tyler Smock. Westby counters with Ryan Daines at running back (four touchdowns rushing this year) and Alex Gluch at quarterback (four touchdowns passing).
Non-Conference: #3 Black Hawk (2-0) vs. New Lisbon was cancelled due to flooding in western Wisconsin and will not be made up.
SWAL: #5 Fennimore (2-0) at Iowa-Grant (0-2): Last year, this would have been a prime match-up of playoff teams, but Iowa-Grant suffered some graduation losses, contributing to their 0-2 start. It's the conference opener for both teams in the SWAL.
Six Rivers: River Ridge (1-1, 1-0) at #6 Potosi/Cassville (1-1, 1-1): After narrowly losing to Black Hawk last week, Potosi/Cassville begins their climb back to conference title contention with River Ridge, currently tied atop the league at 1-0.
Six Rivers: Benton/Scales Mound (1-1) at #7 Pecatonica-Argyle (2-0): Pecatonica/Argyle's defense seems to be back intact, and it'll be a chance to possibly take the lead in the early part of the Six Rivers conference race. For Benton/Scales Mound, a win not only puts them in contention but turns the conference race into a scramble, since only one other team playing this week is currently undefeated.
SWAL: Darlington (1-1) at Cuba City (0-2): Both teams lost to solid programs last week, but it's the conference opener for both, so it'll be an opportunity to start the second season on the right foot.
Great 8: #5 Oakfield (2-0) at Port Edwards (0-2): Oakfield seems to be doing just fine with a nearly brand-new lineup this year after graduation hit the Oaks hard, and they'll get a chance to see Port Edwards for the first time in conference play this week.
Great 8: #10 Wisconsin Heights (1-1) is on a bye this week, but did play a part in flood recovery efforts in Mazomanie and Black Earth this past week.