H.S. football: Parker, Craig search for critical victories
A wise man once said the more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s certainly the case with high school football in Wisconsin.
Although the calendar says 2013, not much has changed from a year ago. The same teams that dominated the landscape in 2012, and played in one of the seven state championship games at Camp Randall, appear primed for a repeat trip.
The 14 schools that played in a state title game a year ago are a combined 61-9 in 2013. Eight of the 14 schools are undefeated this season, including Division 4 runner-up Walworth Big Foot (5-0) and Division 1 runner-up Sun Prairie (5-0). And 12 of the 14 schools have one loss or fewer. The only schools with two or more losses this season are Eau Claire Regis (3-2) and Waunakee (2-3). The Warriors, who have won state titles in three of the last four years, fell to an uncharacteristic 2-3 last Friday. Waunakee lost a home game for the first time since 1998 and lost its third game in a season for the first time since 1996.
- Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie became the first area teams to qualify for the WIAA playoffs. The Cardinals pulled away from previously unbeaten Madison La Follette in the second half to earn an automatic bid with an above .500 conference record.
- Big Foot, Brodhead/Juda, Edgerton, Lake Geneva Badger, Madison La Follette, Middleton and Monona Grove will earn automatic postseason bids with wins Friday.
- Please don’t ever accuse Rodney Wedig of running up the score. The Walworth Big Foot coach is the conductor of what has been one of the most explosive offenses in the state for the last decade, but he knows when to take his foot off the gas. The Chiefs are averaging 44 points a game this season and have scored 220 points in five games. Big Foot, however, has scored only 31 points in the second half this season.
There’s no better example of Wedig’s willingness to call off the dogs than the team’s last two games against Beloit Turner. Big Foot has led Turner 63-0 at halftime in each of the last two seasons but has not scored in the second half. That’s playing with class.
Here’s a look at three area games of note Friday night:
Madison West (1-4, 1-4) at Janesville Parker (2-3, 2-3), 7:30 p.m., Monterey Stadium—The Vikings continue their playoff push, while the Regents try to salvage what has been a disastrous season—on and off the field.
West took fourth-ranked Sun Prairie down to the wire before losing in the season opener. It has been all downhill since then for the Regents. West won its first playoff game since 1981 a year ago but now must run the table to earn a repeat trip. The Regents will be without four starters due to a two-game suspension for fighting, and starting quarterback Terrell McFadden is questionable due to a concussion.
Parker is riding a two-game winning streak and can get back to the .500 mark with a win over West.
Senior tailback Dai-Von Vance-Jenkins is second in the Big Eight with 595 yards rushing and has scored six touchdowns.
The passing game continues to be non-existent for the Vikes. Parker has thrown for 136 yards in five games. To put that in perspective, Beloit Memorial’s Denzell Barnes threw for 189 yards in the first half against Janesville Craig last Friday.
Best guess: West, 20, Parker 13.
Janesville Craig (2-3, 2-3) at Madison La Follette (4-1, 4-1), 7:30 p.m., Lussier Stadium—The Lancers can clinch a playoff berth with the win. The Cougars have to win three of their last four to be playoff eligible.
Craig hopes to have all-everything quarterback Tom Gabower back from a two-week absence due to a foot injury. The speedy senior is averaging nearly 10 yards a carry and, coupled with the return of tailback Trevon Hall, gives Craig as much speed at the skill positions as any team in the Big Eight. Hall returned from a two-game absence due to a concussion with an electric performance last Friday. The senior rushed for 202 yards and averaged 15.2 yards per carry.
Defense has been the story for the Lancers. La Follette has allowed 82 points on the season, including only 34 in the first half.
Tailback Cahleel Copus has 483 yards rushing on the season.
Best guess: Craig 34, La Follette 28.
East Troy (1-2, 2-3) at Edgerton (4-1, 3-0), 7 p.m.—The first team to 50 wins. Or at least that’s what it seems like every time East Troy takes the field. The Trojans can’t stop anybody but can score on everybody.
The Crimson Tide need one win to clinch their third straight playoff berth. Tailback Ricky Williams is third in the state in rushing with 1,040 yards and has scored 10 touchdowns. That spells trouble for an East Troy defense that is allowing 34.4 points per game.
As the struggles continue on defense for East Troy, the offense has been nearly unstoppable under quarterback Brandon Matz. The senior is second in the state with 1,512 yards passing and 21 touchdowns. Matz is averaging over 300 yards passing per game.
Best guess: Edgerton 42, East Troy 27.
High school football
(7 p.m. starting times unless indicated)
Madison West (1-4) at Janesville Parker (2-3), 7:30 p.m.
Janesville Craig (2-3) at Madison La Follette (4-1), 7:30 p.m.
Sun Prairie (5-0) at Madison Memorial (5-0), 7:30 p.m.
Verona (2-3) at Middleton (4-1), 7:30 p.m.
Madison East (0-5) at Beloit Memorial (0-5), 7:30 p.m.
ROCK VALLEY NORTH
East Troy (2-3, 1-2) at Edgerton (4-1, 3-0)
Jefferson (4-1, 2-1) at Evansville/Albany (3-2, 2-1)
McFarland (2-3, 1-2) at Whitewater (3-2, 1-2)
ROCK VALLEY SOUTH
Brodhead/Juda (4-1, 2-0) at Palmyra-Eagle (2-3, 1-1)
Walworth Big Foot (5-0, 2-0) at Clinton (3-2, 1-1)
Beloit Turner (1-4, 0-2) at Orfordville Parkview (0-5, 0-2)
Milton (1-4, 1-2) at Monroe (0-5, 0-2)
Fort Atkinson (5-, 2-0) at Monona Grove (5-0, 3-0)
Madison Edgewood (3-2, 2-1) at Oregon (1-4, 0-2)
Stoughton (1-4) at Portage (crossover)
Delavan-Darien (2-3, 1-2) at Lake Geneva Badger (4-1, 3-0)
Waterford (3-2, 2-1) at Elkhorn (3-2, 2-1)
Westosha Central 0-5, 0-3) at Burlington (3-2, 1-2)
Wilmot (3-2, 2-1) at Union Grove (1-4, 1-2)