Oregon (1-1) at Monona Grove (2-0) - 6:45pm Friday on 100.9 FM and iHeartRadio
Last Year: Oregon led 6-0 and 13-7 early in the game, but the Silver Eagles scored 42 unanswered, including 28 in the third quarter, to blow out the Panthers 49-13. Sam Hepp had his best game of the season, catching four passes for 140 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown, for Monona Grove. Both Keion Szudy and Dylan DiMaggio played extensively in this game last year for Oregon, combining for 12 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Last Week: Monona Grove led 49-0 at halftime, including a 35-point outburst thanks to Jalen Ostrowsky's four touchdowns in the second quarter, en route to a 49-14 win over Portage. The yardage totals added up to 399, but the game was largely over at halftime, so eight different Silver Eagles got to carry the ball in the game, while five different Monona Grove receivers caught a pass... Oregon battled throughout, but couldn't overcome Mount Horeb/Barneveld's prolific offense, which racked up 626 yards and 41 points in the Vikings' 41-30 win over the Panthers. Oregon got a 200-yard effort from Keion Szudy and a near-100 yard effort from Dylan DiMaggio on the ground, and another 130 through the air for a 423-yard offensive effort in the loss.
Season To Date: Monona Grove hasn't really been tested yet, facing two non-playoff teams from the Badger North last year, while Oregon has seen arguably the second- and third-best teams in the Badger North in the crossover games. There's still questions about the Silver Eagles, particularly when it comes to facing a tougher defense, and while Oregon's Week 2 effort on defense wasn't great statistically, they also only allowed one score to DeForest in Week 1 in a solid victory to start the year. The questions about Monona Grove relate to the players that they're replacing on offense. Gone are all-everything backfield mates Alec Ogden and Jackson Thomsen, as well as deep threat Lucas Gerlach and a number of outstanding linemen. However, the next wave of Silver Eagles has done well asserting themselves in the early going, putting up 88 points in two games to start the year to roughly match last year's season average of 44.6 points per game.
Coaches' Corner: Brandon Beckwith (4th Season 33-6), has lost only six games since taking over for Mike Stassi at Monona Grove, three of them in the playoffs. A win over Oregon would give the Silver Eagles a 12-game conference winning streak (Monona Grove owns the 20th-longest streak in the state, per Dan Barwick on the WSN Forums). The formula hasn't changed on the offensive side of the ball, since that's where the Silver Eagles have placed some outstanding athletes. Three of the backfield starters this year on offense started in the secondary on defense last year... Dan Kissling (9th Season, 27-52) has a fairly young team at Oregon, but the group of seniors at his disposal are outstanding. Linebacker John Klus is your quintessential sideline-to-sideline stopper, while the entire backfield is a threat wherever the Panthers line up on the field between quarterback Nolan Look and running backs Keion Szudy and Dylan DiMaggio. Interestingly, Oregon starts four players both ways, primarily in the front grouping, meaning that there should be a steady rotation on both sides of the ball throughout the game to keep players fresh. The Panthers will have the size disadvantage in some of their games this year, but since the Silver Eagles play on a faster track than most, it should play out more as a footrace than a speed versus size clash.
Three Keys: 1. Monona Grove's propensity for scoring points is truly astounding. In their last 23 games, the Silver Eagles have failed to score 34 points or more just twice: a Level 1 win over Waterford in 2016 and a Level 3 loss last year to Waukesha West. Oregon gave up 41 points last week after holding DeForest to just seven points in the opener, so it'll be the task of the Oregon defense to keep the Silver Eagles in check. MG scored 35 points in the second quarter last week against Portage. 2. Unlike the past couple of Oregon teams, this Panthers squad has some explosiveness to them. After running with Mount Horeb/Barneveld to the tune of over 1,000 combined yards and 71 combined points last week, it could be a similar sprint to the finish in this week's contest. Monona Grove has no problem scoring points, as noted, but their key, much like Oregon's, will be to limit possessions a bit more this week than the first couple of weeks since Oregon can score points as well. 3. Setting the edges will absolutely be a key both ways in this game. Each team has a state-caliber linebacker manning the middle, with last year's co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Badger South, Trenton Herber, at Monona Grove, while John Klus, who has racked up literally hundreds of tackles in his varsity career at Oregon, is the other first-team middle linebacker from last year's All-Badger South team. It wouldn't make much sense to run straight at those two, so look for more plays off tackle, attacking the younger, smaller corners and linebackers on the outside.
Five Players To Watch: You have to wonder what Jalen Ostrowsky, who was rated as one of the state's top defensive backs in the senior class this year, can do for an encore after scoring seemingly at will last week against Portage. It won't be as easy this week, but in the Silver Eagles' offense, the running back is as important as the high-flying passing attack, so he'll be counted upon to carry a big part of the load... Keion Szudy was the 'other' dynamic athlete in the backfield last year for Oregon, and now he's stepped into some big shoes since Kardelle Phillips has graduated. All he did was rumble for 200 yards against a tough Mount Horeb/Barneveld squad to give the Panthers a chance in a big Week 2 match-up... We're cheating a bit, but this spot goes to the middle linebackers for each team, John Klus of Oregon and Trenton Herber of Monona Grove. They were already two of the best in the area last year, and are two of the best in Wisconsin this year. It's enough that teams scheme away from, around, or through them (with double- and triple-teams) and they still find a way to pick up a dozen or more tackles... Sam Hepp is a pretty good basketball player at Monona Grove, and the 6' 7" receiver also happens to be a heck of an athlete on the gridiron. With Lucas Gerlach now graduated, Hepp is the nominal threat down the seams and in the red zone to help stretch defenses... A two-way starter with a familiar last name, Matt Kissling saw time on varsity last year and is counted upon as a physical presence as an H-back on offense as well as an outside linebacker on defense. Only a junior, he's one of the rising stars of the Oregon defense.
Listen to the game this Friday night at 7pm on 100.9 FM and thebig1070.com/fm!