Janesville Gazette's fall sports awards
The high school fall sports season will wrap up this week with football crowning champions in seven divisions.
Unfortunately, none of those champions will come from this area. Walworth Big Foot was the last area team remaining but was upset 7-2 by Platteville in a Division 4 quarterfinal game. That loss was another shocker in what was a definite down year for area football, including another anemic postseason performance by the Big Eight Conference.
That said, there were several individual and team highlights that stood out.
Here are my postseason award winners for fall sports:
Best overall performance by a team
The nominees are: Walworth Big Foot football; East Troy girls volleyball; Edgerton football; Janesville Parker girls golf; Elkhorn boys soccer.
And the winner is: East Troy girls volleyball, in a landslide. The Trojans ran the table this season en route to a 44-0 record and the Division 2 state title. East Troy defeated a number of Division 1 schools during the season, including D1 state champion Menomonee Falls. The Trojans ended the season as the fourth-ranked team in the nation—yes, in the nation—and were arguably the finest collection of high school players ever assembled on one team in state history. Senior setter Brittney Jakscht will take her talents to Kent State next season, while outside hitter M.E. Dodge might be the best sophomore volleyball player in the country.
Big Foot football capped off its seventh straight Rock Valley South Conference title by extending its conference winning streak to 48—the two crossover games did not count in the Rock Valley South standings this season.
Edgerton’s football team won the undisputed Rock Valley North Conference championship and the school’s first playoff game since 1990.
Parker’s girls golf team made the school’s second appearance at state and finished sixth overall in Division 1.
Elkhorn’s boys soccer team reached the Division 2 sectional final match before losing 1-0 in double overtime to eventual state champion Oregon.
Best overall performance by a male athlete
The nominees are: Ricky Williams, Edgerton football; Brett Harms, Whitewater cross country; Jesse Collins, Delavan-Darien football; Keegan McCluskey, Janesville Parker cross country.
And the winner is: Williams. The talented junior not only broke the school’s single-game rushing record with 343 yards in a win over Brodhead/Juda, but led the state in rushing with 2,349 yards. Despite being only 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, Williams didn’t miss a down all season and saw his recruiting stock skyrocket thanks to his Barry Sanders-like skills.
Harms won the Rock Valley Conference meet and the Division 2 sectional meet three years in a row and capped off an illustrious career with another fifth-place finish at the Division 2 state meet.
Collins, a junior, was the Southern Lakes Offensive Player of the Year and was one of the state’s top dual-threat quarterbacks.
McCluskey, a junior, came on strong at the end of the season. He finished second at the Division 1 sectional meet and finished in the top 20 at state.
Best overall performance by a female athlete
The nominees are: Maddie McCue, Milton golf; Bridgette Alexander, Milton swim; M.E. Dodge, East Troy volleyball; Brittney Jakscht, East Troy volleyball; Mackenzie Long, Big Foot volleyball.
And the winner is: Alexander. The senior and University of Kentucky recruit capped off an amazing high school career by winning the 100-yard backstroke at Friday night’s Division 2 state meet. She was also third in the 200 individual medley. Alexander was a member of two state championship teams, won 10 individual titles and holds the Division 2 state record in the 100 backstroke.
Jakscht and Dodge cancel each other out because picking one over the other is impossible—although Dodge has a chance to be the most highly recruited volleyball player ever to come out of the state and a possible Olympian down the road.
McCue tied for the second-lowest round (74) on day two of the Division 1 state meet and has qualified for state in each of her first three seasons.
Long, a Saint Louis University recruit, led Big Foot to four straight Rock Valley South titles and earned honorable mention all-state.
Best coaching performance
The nominees are: Mike Gregory, Edgerton football; Mary Ross, Parker girls golf; Rodney Wedig, Big Foot football; Erin Kammerer, Brodhead girls volleyball; Jeff Spiwak, Clinton football.
And the winner is: Kammerer. In a close vote, Kammerer edges Edgerton’s Gregory. Kammerer guided the Cardinals to the Division 3 state tournament despite finishing second in the Rock Valley South. Admittedly, the team’s goals at the beginning of the season didn’t even include a trip to sectionals, yet Brodhead advanced all the way to the Resch Center for just the second time in program history.
Gregory’s Crimson Tide team left little doubt about who was boss in the Rock Valley North. Edgerton went 7-0 in conference play, including wins over longtime nemeses Evansville/Albany and Brodhead/Juda.
Ross led the Parker girls to a state berth—the second in school history.
Spiwak, in just his second year, got Clinton back to the playoffs for the first time since 2000. There, the Cougars beat New Glarus/Monticello 26-14 in a Level 1 game for the school’s first playoff win.
All Wedig does is continue to win. This year’s team wasn’t as talented as some of the past juggernauts, but Wedig had them playing at a high level each and every week.