Madison Memorial and McFarland are surprise leaders after four weeks of football in their respective conferences, leading the Big 8 and Rock Valley respectively with 4-0 records after impressive wins this week by both teams named the Spartans.
In the Capitol North, Lodi ran its state-long winning streak to 18, and in the Capitol South, both Cambridge and Belleville improved to 4-0 on the season. In the Badger, Waunakee, Monona Grove, and Stoughton all improved to 4-0 to stay in the ranks of the unbeaten as well.
Heading into Week 5, we now have playoff-clinching scenarios on the table as the regular season is about to cross the halfway point.
Game Audio: HSFB: Waunakee 31, DeForest 7
Pat Rice happy with Waunakee's effort in 31-7 win over DeForest
FFN: Unexpected conference leaders dot the state in Week 4
WATCH: Madison Memorial improves to 4-0 on last-second Hail Mary
Sun Prairie (3-1) 49, Janesville Craig (3-1) 0: Sun Prairie got out to a big lead early, getting long scoring plays and forcing turnovers to mark their progress since an opening-week loss to Madison Memorial. For the Cardinals, it was an announcement to the rest of the Big 8 that despite starting 0-1, they shouldn't be forgotten, as a team that last year finished the season at Camp Randall. Janesville Craig let an opportunity get away here, but they still have games against Middleton, Madison Memorial, and next week against Madison La Follette to re-stake their claim as a challenger to the Big 8 crown.
Madison Memorial (4-0) 30, Middleton (2-2) 27: After getting a late pick to seal the season-opening win over Sun Prairie, the Spartans pull off another late-game wonder, winning on a Hail Mary to beat Middleton on Friday night. The win means Memorial is on top of the Big 8 all alone heading into the back half of their schedule, which features games yet against Verona and Janesville Craig. For Middleton, it's another very tough defeat to swallow, two in the span of three weeks after Verona got a late pick to seal a Wildcats win in Week 2.
Verona (3-1) 35, Madison West (1-3) 0: Verona bounced back in a big way, avenging a 2017 loss to the Regents and putting the Wildcats in position to have at least a share of the Big 8 title in their control since they'll play Memorial yet later this year. For West, it's starting to look like the graduation losses of a season ago are going to be too much to overcome against the upper echelon teams in the Big 8, but if they can find three wins the rest of the way, the Regents can get back into the playoffs.
Madison La Follette (3-1) 35, Janesville Parker (0-4) 0: The third of three shutouts in the Big 8, the Lancers are quietly 3-1, their lone loss to Madison Memorial. The schedule will pick up a notch now for the Lancers, with Middleton, Sun Prairie, Verona, and Janesville Craig next week all on the schedule yet the rest of the way. Parker would need to win out to clinch a playoff spot, but at this point a win would be their main goal, and they have a shot next week against fellow winless Madison East.
Beloit Memorial (1-3) 37, Madison East (0-4) 13: After a difficult early-season schedule, Beloit Memorial was able to get that first win of 2018, a convincing 37-13 victory over Madison East. The Purple Knights will have a couple of more manageable games coming up, and if they can rally to four wins, that would snap a generation-long absence from the WIAA Playoffs. East will try to get their first win for head coach Jeremy Thornton next week when they play fellow winless team Janesville Parker.
4-0 Madison Memorial
3-1 Sun Prairie
3-1 Janesville Craig
3-1 Madison La Follette
1-3 Beloit Memorial
1-3 Madison West
0-4 Janesville Parker
0-4 Madison East
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 5 Games:
Sun Prairie (3-1) at Verona (3-1): The crowd at the top of the Big 8 will start to sort itself out this week, and this week marks strong rebound efforts in Week 4 for each squad heading into a turning-point type of game at the midway point. The Cardinals have ripped off three straight since losing to Madison Memorial in the opener, while Verona got a shutout win to recover from a Week 3 loss to Janesville Craig. Annually one of the can't miss games in the Big 8, this year's iteration has plenty of significance.
Janesville Craig (3-1) at Madison La Follette (3-1): Even as an undercard, this game is fascinating because both teams are vying for contender status, and the winner will pick up a key win on the way to that role in the Big 8. Both teams have an up-and-down schedule after this week, but the winning team will have that key fourth victory that will likely get them into the playoffs. Janesville Craig's offense will have to shake off a drubbing at the hands of Sun Prairie last week. Janesville Craig still holds their conference title fate in their hands, as if they win out, they'd get a share of the Big 8 crown.
Madison West (1-3) vs Madison Memorial (4-0): Madison Memorial's dream season continued with a Hail Mary to topple Middleton last week, and this week marks three important events to play for. First, the Spartans can wrap up a city championship with a victory. Second, Burt Hable's Clipboard is on the line for the 25th time, a tremendous-looking trophy. Third, a win clinches a playoff spot for the Spartans, Madison West, with an upset, not only throws the Big 8 into even more chaos, but greatly increases the Regents' chances for getting back to the postseason, so there's plenty at stake here.
Belot Memorial (1-3) at Middleton (2-2): For a pair of playoff hopefuls, this looms as a relatively important game. The Purple Knights snapped a three-game losing streak to take their first step towards a return to the playoffs, while Middleton lost in heartbreaking fashion on a Hail Mary last week. A win for either team would be huge. Middleton's Big 8 hopes aren't dashed yet, since there's still five weeks of craziness left in the Big 8, but they don't control their own destiny on that front.
Madison East (0-4) at Janesville Parker (0-4): For Madison East, this is likely their last real opportunity for a win this season, since their schedule difficulty increases drastically the rest of the way. For Parker, it's now the part of the schedule that could yield some wins and keep them on the fringe of the playoff discussion. The losing team can no longer clinch a playoff spot.
Playoffs: Madison Memorial clinches a playoff spot with a win... The losing team between East and Parker can no longer clinch a playoff spot... The winning team in Craig-La Follette and Sun Prairie-Verona will have a fourth win, which should be more than enough to get into the playoffs.
Waunakee (4-0, 2-0) 31, DeForest (2-2, 1-1) 7: This game was much closer than the final score would indicate. Waunakee led 14-7 before a misplayed punt return just before halftime allowed the Warriors to tack on a field goal just before halftime, and the Warriors salted the game away late with a pair of Will Ross rushing touchdowns. Pat Rice and the Warriors might not face a better defense all regular season, and he said the four-quarter game should boost Waunakee moving forward. (This was our Game of the Week broadcast).
Reedsburg (3-1, 1-1) 9, Sauk Prairie (1-3, 1-1) 7: It's been a trying week in Sauk County, with much of the western Wisconsin flooding impacting the area. Reedsburg has barely begun to dry out, yet Cornfeast and the football game were still on as a rallying point in the community as the Beavers came back to nip Sauk Prairie, 9-7.
Mount Horeb/Barneveld (3-1, 1-1) 56, Beaver Dam (1-3, 0-2) 28: Beaver Dam trimmed the margin late in the game with a pair of late scores, but Mount Horeb/Barneveld bounced back from a shutout loss to Waunakee with a dominating performance against Beaver Dam. For the Golden Beavers, the season is suddenly on the brink, with games against DeForest and Waunakee remaining. The path to four Badger Conference wins and a clinched playoff spot goes through one of those two teams.
Baraboo (2-2, 2-0) 34, Portage (0-4, 0-2) 8: Both teams had very difficult Badger crossover games, facing Monona Grove and Stoughton, but Baraboo has jumped out to a high-flying start in Badger North play, getting halfway to the win total needed for the playoffs. There's a lot of work to be done, however, with most of the top half of the conference remaining on the schedule.
Baraboo 2-0 (2-2)
Waunakee 2-0 (4-0)
DeForest 1-1 (2-2)
Reedsburg 1-1 (2-2)
Mount Horeb/Barneveld 1-1 (3-1)
Sauk Prairie 1-1 (1-3)
Beaver Dam 0-2 (1-3)
Portage 0-2 (0-4)
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 5 Games:
Baraboo (2-2, 2-0) at Mount Horeb/Barneveld (3-1, 1-1): This one should light up the scoreboard, as each team has put up 50 points in the past two weeks in a single game. Baraboo's early success against Stoughton are probably a good indication that the Thunderbirds will be able to challenge the state-ranked Vikings for at least a while, although Mount Horeb/Barneveld looked mighty impressive in dominating Beaver Dam last week.
Sauk Prairie (1-3, 1-1) at DeForest (2-2, 1-1): DeForest touts a stellar defense, one that can probably contain Sauk Prairie at least as well as it did Waunakee, keeping the Warriors to about 230 yards in a loss last week. The Norskies have lost two games this season to teams that can mirror what they like to do up front, and the junior-laden squad showed that it can battle with the best up front. Sauk Prairie's advantage might be in moving the football a bit, but they'll need a solid if not spectacular effort up front to battle a very good DeForest team.
Waunakee (4-0, 2-0) at Portage (0-4, 0-2): These are two Warriors teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. Whereas last year, Portage was 2-0 in conference play entering this battle for first place, Portage is now trying to hang on to their season. It doesn't get any easier against Waunakee, as Waunakee has now downed the two primary challengers in the conference.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 6.
Stoughton (4-0, 2-0) 26, Milton (2-2, 1-1) 14: No moral victories here, but Milton fared well and it's a step up from 2017's result. Stoughton is now 4-0, but nobody they've played has a winning record. Can't pick who you play though, and in what order... but the Vikings' schedule will get tougher in the back half, when they'll face the other primary challengers in the Badger South. Milton still has plenty of opportunity in front of them, and a two-score loss to a team that's gone 12-1 in the past two regular seasons so far is nothing to sneeze at.
Monona Grove (4-0, 2-0) 36, Edgewood (1-3, 0-2) 0: Speaking of undefeated teams, Monona Grove's defense is really the story about this team this year. While the offense can get stuff done, the defense has been downright stifling. Edgewood has now cleared two of the tougher teams in the conference, so the schedule should get a little more manageable after Week 5.
Watertown (3-1, 2-0) 41, at Monroe (0-4, 0-2) 14: The Goslings are rounding into form as perhaps one of the dark horses in the area, getting another conference win, this time after a long drive to Monroe. The Cheesemakers kept it close early, but Watertown was able to pull away in the second half.
Oregon (2-2, 1-1) 40, Fort Atkinson (0-4, 0-2) 0: Speaking of defense, just two weeks ago, the Panthers gave up 600-plus yards and 41 points. Last week, those numbers were cut nearly in half. This week, a shutout. Oregon bounces back and sets up a very intriguing game with Milton on Friday. Fort Atkinson has really struggled this year, with low-ish numbers and a ton of turnover from last season. However, the Blackhawks have also played a very tough schedule already, and it doesn't get easier this week.
Monona Grove 2-0 (4-0)
Stoughton 2-0 (4-0)
Watertown 2-0 (3-1)
Milton 1-1 (2-2)
Oregon 1-1 (2-2)
Edgewood 0-2 (1-3)
Fort Atkinson 0-2 (0-4)
Monroe 0-2 (0-4)
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 5 Games:
Oregon (2-2, 1-1) at Milton (2-2, 1-1): This is the sort of match-up that decides playoff appearances. Both teams are playing for the postseason, and both teams feature solid defenses complimented by run-first offenses. Despite some of the higher-profile Big 8 games on the schedule this week, this one might be one of the most important games in the area in Week 5.
Edgewood (1-3, 0-2) at Watertown (3-1, 2-0): Both of these teams appear improved in 2018, which should make for some intrigue here. Edgewood, if they want to get into the playoffs, will have to start winning soon, and to knock out a playoff team from last year would be a good start. Watertown has thus far displayed their usual dynamic offense, and now a few wins to keep the Goslings pacing with Monona Grove and Stoughton, who they will face in the final weeks of the season.
Monroe (0-4, 0-2) at Stoughton (4-0, 2-0) and Fort Atkinson (0-4, 0-2) at Monona Grove (4-0, 2-0): For the 0-2 teams, a loss means they'll have to win out to make the playoffs (probably). For the undefeated teams, it's another step on the way to their showdown in Week 8.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 6.
Capitol Conference - North and South (Non-Conference)
Not counting Capitol crossovers, the Capitol Conference is 23-11 in non-conference games this season (North 13-6, South 10-5)... the Capitol North dominated crossover games 5-0
Poynette (4-0) 28, Marshall (1-3) 7: The Pumas returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and after the game was tied at halftime, used three rushing touchdowns (two by Sawyer Moll) to pick up a crossover win heading into conference play next week. Marshall hung tough but played perhaps one of the best defenses they'll see all year.
Luther Prep (3-1) 41, Waterloo (0-4) 14: The Phoenix had little trouble dispatching the winless Pirates, and Luther Prep will once again take a solid non-conference record into conference play.
Lakeside Lutheran (3-1) 35, Wautoma (2-2) 0: Lakeside Lutheran didn't have an overwhelming game yardage-wise, but five rushing touchdowns and a shutout on defense were enough for a big non-conference win.
Lake Mills (3-1) 20, Winnebago Lutheran (2-2) 13: Winnebago Lutheran scored the first 13 points of the game, but Lake Mills scored three times through the air to win this non-conference game.
Cambridge (4-0) 49, Wisconsin Dells (1-3) 14: Cambridge used a stellar passing attack to take down Wisconsin Dells. The Chiefs gained nearly 300 yards in the game, but not enough as the Blue Jays were in control for most of the contest.
Mauston (3-1) 35, New Glarus/Monticello (1-3) 10: After an opening-season win, the NG/M Knights have lost three in a row, now with a loss to Mauston, one of the South Central's contenders for a conference title.
Lodi (4-0) 52, Westfield (0-4) 0: Lodi has now won 18 in a row, tied for the state's longest streak at 18 victories. The defending D4 champs will enter league play unbeaten for the second straight season.
Belleville (4-0) 28, Nekoosa (0-4) 0: Belleville scored touchdowns on the ground, through the air, and on defense in a shutout effort against Nekoosa.
Adams-Friendship (1-3) 27, Columbus (1-3) 20: A week after Columbus got an overtime win, they fall on a late last-second touchdown. Such is football.
Week 5 Games:
Poynette (4-0) at Lake Mills (3-1): Probably the most interesting of the three Capitol North match-ups, Poynette has used a stifling defense and ground-and-pound on offense to start the year undefeated. Lake Mills, whose lone less was to D2 powerhouse Menomonie in the opener, seems to have settled on roles on offense, with Adam Moen tossing three touchdowns last week. A bit of a contrast in styles in this one, but still shaping up to be one of the area's best games.
Luther Prep (3-1) at Lodi (4-0): Aside from a Week 2 contest against St. Viator of Illinois, this might be the biggest challenge to Lodi's winning streak and title defense yet this season. Luther Prep has a solid core of returning players and is looking to break a long playoff drought, despite having winning overall records in two of the last three seasons. Lodi's young squad has grown up quite a bit during non-conference play, and they'll need that experience going into the difficult conference portion of their schedule.
Columbus (1-3) at Lakeside Lutheran (3-1): While both teams bring in some experience, the difference is that Columbus' current core of players is a year younger than what Lakeside is rolling with. The Warriors have played an ambitious non-conference schedule and that should serve the senior-laden team well as they begin conference play against Columbus.
New Glarus/Monticello (1-3) at Belleville (4-0): A match-up of two of the conference's champions from last year, Belleville used its big line and big threats in the backfield to stay undefeated so far on the year. New Glarus/Monticello has played some tough teams so far, but 1-3 is a little surprising from the Knights.
Waterloo (0-4) at Cambridge (4-0): Cambridge brought nearly everyone back from last year's conference championship team, and the Denver Evans-Rudy Hommen combo has been hard for opponents to stop. For Waterloo, it's a new season.
Mineral Point (3-1, 2-0) at Marshall (1-3, 0-0) - Non Conference: The Pointers blew out Darlington last week 42-0, and the lone blemish on their resume is a loss to D5's Lake Country Lutheran, a state semifinalist a year ago. Marshall has some solid offensive weapons but so does Mineral Point. This could be a game played on a fast track.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 6
McFarland (4-0) 48, East Troy (3-1) 27: Derek Schwarting and Jake Dessart are two very different, and yet very talented quarterbacks. Dessart ran for over 200 yards and three touchdowns while Schwarting had nearly 400 yards passing and six scores through the air. McFarland prevailed in likely the biggest remaining hurdle towards their first conference title since 2010, since no team remaining on the schedule has a winning record.
Jefferson (3-1) 20, Brodhead/Juda (2-2) 0: If you take away the fourth quarter of their loss to McFarland, Jefferson has been borderline dominant this season so far, mixing solid defense (as always) with a good ground game. Brodhead/Juda has lost two straight since opening the year with a pair of wins.
Edgerton (3-1) 41, Clinton (1-3) 8: Edgerton's arrival this season behind a big wave of younger players continued with a decisive win against last year's conference champs. The Tide only lost their opener to McFarland so far.
Beloit Turner (3-1) 28, Evansville/Albany (0-4) 22: Last year, Turner prevailed in overtime. This year, they send the Blue Devils to their fifth straight loss overall dating to last year's playoffs. For Evansville/Albany, the five-game losing streak comes after a six-game winning streak last year, which was preceded by, yes, a four-game losing streak. Turner lost to McFarland last week 9-7.
Big Foot (1-3) 48, Whitewater (0-4) 18: Big Foot busted out and got a much-needed win as they enter a key part of the schedule. For Whitewater, this may have represented their best remaining chance at a win, and now must win out to clinch a playoff spot.
Beloit Turner 3-1
East Troy 3-1
Big Foot 1-3
*Clinched playoff berth
Week 5 Games:
Edgerton (3-1) at Jefferson (3-1): A high-powered offense meets a stalwart defense in this week's game of the week in the Rock Valley. The winning team likely punches a playoff ticket (4-5 gets you in now) but also stays a game back of McFarland should they win, in hopes that the Spartans stumble down the stretch.
Brodhead/Juda (2-2) at Beloit Turner (3-1): Like the other 3-1 teams, Turner needs a win to stay a game back (at least) of McFarland in the conference race, while Brodhead/Juda's good start has been spoiled a bit with back-to-back losses.
Big Foot (1-3) at Clinton (1-3): Not much separates the two schools in the standings or geographically. If either team has intentions on getting back to the playoffs, this begins to border on must-win territory. Big Foot piled up some points last week, giving them a boost going into the date against defending RVC champ Clinton.
Evansville/Albany (0-4) at East Troy (3-1): The season is officially on the brink for Evansville/Albany. The Blue Devils need to win out to clinch a playoff spot, but in order to even have a chance, they'll need to beat East Troy or McFarland the rest of the way.
McFarland (4-0) vs Whitewater (0-4) at UW-Whitewater: McFarland's second neutral-site game of the year, the schedule favors the Spartans the rest of the way since they don't face a team with a current winning record. A win here clinches a playoff spot while Whitewater wouldn't be able to clinch a playoff spot with a loss.
Playoffs: McFarland clinches a playoff spot with a win. The 3-1 teams can all likely get into the playoffs with a fourth victory, and the 0-4 teams, with a loss, would no longer be able to clinch a playoff spot.
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