Upon further review: Whitewater, Edgerton get late-season boost
When you get to Week 7 of the high school football season, every victory becomes that much more important for teams on the verge of making the playoffs or winning a conference championship.
For teams already out of contention, though, picking up some momentum can be just as vital. A win now can prove that players are committed to the program and set the stage for bigger and better things down the road.
Just ask the Whitewater Whippets.
They had lost 15 straight games dating back to the final week of the 2015 season, but they put that skid to rest Friday night by picking up a 28-27 road win against Brodhead/Juda.
“It's huge,” Whitewater coach Jim Pease said. “They've been working so hard, especially those senior kids, for a lot of years. I'm very happy to see them get a win. They deserved it. They got the win, got the stuff gone where people can stop talking about it at school, and they're ready to keep moving forward.”
The Whippets and Cardinals were tied at 7 at halftime, and Whitewater took a 14-13 lead into the fourth quarter. Julio Espinoza's 45-yard run in the opening minutes of the fourth, and the ensuing extra point, gave Whitewater an eight-point lead.
Brodhead/Juda scored with just under seven minutes left but failed to convert its two-point try, leaving Whitewater up 21-19.
The Whippets made it a two-score game when Will Leibbrand ran in from 15 yards out with 3:05 remaining and Martin Gonzalez kicked the extra point.
Brodhead/Juda scored a quick touchdown and two-point conversion, but Whitewater held on.
It was a needed victory for a Whippets team that thought it could have won a game or two earlier in the year. They lost by a touchdown to Edgerton and just 17-7 against an East Troy team averaging 38 points per game.
“We've got quite a few sophomores playing and suit up all the guys, and the JV team has been very successful—hasn't lost a game yet,” Pease said. “Put all that together, this definitely points the kids in keeping a positive attitude.”
Edgerton is another young team that could benefit from a late-season road win moving forward.
The Crimson Tide, who began the season with just a handful of seniors, were 1-5 heading into Friday but got a 40-36 win at Big Foot. (Note: An official box score submitted to The Gazette on Friday incorrectly listed the final score.)
Junior quarterback Jaden Johnson threw for two touchdowns and ran for three, including the two decisive scores in the fourth quarter. His six-yard scoring pass to Mason Simmons got Edgerton within four points at 36-32. Johnson's four-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left gave the Tide the lead for good.
A playoff isn't in the cards for teams like Whitewater and Edgerton this season. But if they move in that direction in 2018, you can bet they'll be pointing back to Week 7 of this season as a turning point.
NUMBERS ADD UP
How about some fun math surrounding Janesville Craig, which has won three straight games and could clinch playoff eligibility with a win over Madison West for Homecoming this week?
The Cougars allowed nearly 37 points per game a season ago, a number that has dwindled below 21 in 2017. In their four victories, they've allowed a total of just 33 points, but opponents have averaged more than 37 in Craig's losses.
The good news is that Madison West is scoring just 18 points per game, so neither team will go into Friday thinking about a track meet-type game.
Here's a breakdown, by area conference, of the playoff picture going into Week 8:
Sun Prairie, Middleton, Madison West and Verona have clinched spots out of the Big Eight. Craig needs one win in its final two weeks (the Cougars are at Verona in the final week), while Madison La Follette needs to win its final two games.
Clinton, Jefferson and Turner have clinched winning records in the Rock Valley. Evansville/Albany and East Troy need one more victory. Every other team is guaranteed to finish below .500.
Badger and Waterford have clinched spots out of the Southern Lakes, and Friday's winner between Wilmot and Burlington will join them. Westosha and Union Grove are still mathematically alive in the postseason race.
Last updated: 11:36 pm Saturday, September 30, 2017