Four of the five teams in the Capitol South Conference made it to the WIAA playoffs in 2018, with conference champion Cambridge advancing all the way to Level 3.
Cambridge brought back nearly all of its core pieces from a 2017 tri-conference champion squad, and the result was an explosive offense with excellent two-way depth at the skill positions. The athleticism and experience of the group, which also had a number of standout track and field athletes, showed at all positions, as the Blue Jays boasted a 2,100-yard passer (Denver Evans, who finished 19th in the state with 2,121 passing yards and 8th in the state with 27 passing touchdowns), a 1,300-yard rusher (all-state honorable mention Riley Olson), and a receiver who got nearly 900 yards (Rudy Hommen, 21st in the state with 887 receiving yards). The Blue Jays also sported the conference's offensive player of the year (Olson) and defensive player of the year (Bailey Furseth). Cambridge went undefeated against a tough schedule in the regular season, and fell in Level 3 to eventual Division 6 state champion Racine Lutheran 41-21.
Belleville got bumped to Division 5 for the playoffs and fell to Horicon-Hustisford 21-0 in Level 1, but the Wildcats finished with a 6-4 record, one of the best finishes in program history as Belleville has now had three straight winning seasons. A beefy line paved the way for over 3,000 yards of offense in 10 games, including nearly 2,000 on the ground, and defensively gave up just 34 points in its four conference games. A conference tri-champ in 2017, Belleville started out 4-0, but suffered two difficult losses to conference champion Cambridge (14-13) and the other of the three teams that shared the Capitol South crown, New Glarus/Monticello (13-9). Five points was the deficit, less than a touchdown difference between a .500 conference record and an outright conference championship. Senior Danny Enloe won the conference awards for lineman of the year on both sides of the ball.
New Glarus/Monticello advanced to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, and for the first time in those four trips, picked up a playoff victory, an upset win over Prairie du Chien (one of Level 1's bigger statewide upsets), 28-24. Like Belleville, NG/M played in the Division 5 bracket, and like Belleville, got bounced by Horicon/Hustisford, 48-7. The Knights racked up nearly 2,000 yards in passing in 2018, including 1,300 yards by Connor Siegenthaler, who also played a big role on New Glarus' state championship boy's basketball team. Siegenthaler also led the Knights in tackles. He's not the only boy's basketball player on the football squad, either. Leading receiver Trevor Gassman averaged double-digit scoring in hoops; Zach Feller, who was second in scoring, had five touchdowns for the football team; leading rushers Darris Schuett and Patrick Craker as well as receiving target Nathan Streiff all played reserve roles for the state champs; and Mason Martinson, who was third in scoring in basketball, led the Knights in sacks (6) in 2018.
Marshall made it back to the playoffs in 2018, but as has been often-cited in the statewide football-only conference realignment process, the Cardinals are one of the examples of teams that benefited from the current setup of five conference teams. Marshall has gone 3-6, 2-7, and 3-6 the past three years, yet has made the playoffs twice (2016 and 2018) in that span. The Cardinals did advance to Level 3 in 2014 and 2015, but didn't make it past Level 1 in either of their playoff trips, including last year, as the Cardinals fell to powerhouse Lake Country Lutheran 31-0 in the playoff opener in Division 5. Like many smaller schools, Marshall had monster multi-sport, two-way athletes lead the way in 2018, including Josh Wehking and Dylan Horstmeyer. Marshall's record also was in part due to an ambitious non-conference slate that included top programs such as Stanley-Boyd, Mineral Point, and an emerging Palmyra-Eagle team in Week 1.
Waterloo went winless last year, just one season removed from a playoff appearance and two seasons removed from a conference title and a playoff victory. The lone campaign under Aaron Erickson had just one loss within one score, a Week 7 defeat at the hands of Marshall 21-13, as the Pirates averaged just 10 points per game in 2018. Spencer Noel was one of the top players from last year's group, as the senior finished all-conference at three positions. Matthew Mankowski and Jacob Filter both earned nods on the all-conference team as interior defensive linemen, as well.
2018 Conference Champion: Cambridge (4-0), 11-1 overall
2018 Player Honors: OL of the Year & DL of the Year: Danny Enloe, Belleville (SR); Offensive POY: RB Riley Olson, Cambridge (SR); Defensive POY: LB Bailey Furseth, Cambridge (SR)
2018 Total Playoff Record (not including games against in-conference teams): 3-4
2018 Final Standings: Cambridge 4-0 (11-1), Belleville 2-2 (6-4), New Glarus/Monticello 2-2 (5-6), Marshall 2-2 (3-7), Waterloo 0-4 (0-9).
Featured conferences in The Big 1070 listening area will have 2018 year-in-reviews publish this week, including the Big 8, Badger, Capitol, and Rock Valley conferences. Other conferences may be added to the schedule later in the week. Team-by-team 2019 previews begin on August 5.