WIAA football: Semifinal matchups
Brodhead-Juda (10-2) vs. West Salem (11-1)
Time: 3 p.m. Saturday (WEKZ radio, 93.7 FM).
Site: Portage (Bob Mael Field, adjacent to Portage High School).
Playoff status: This is a WIAA Division 4 semifinal game. The winner plays Somerset (11-0) or Kettle Moraine Lutheran (11-0) for the state championship at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Brodhead-Juda, which finished third in the Rock Valley Conference, defeated 2006 state runner-up Mayville, 39-15, in a first-round playoff game; Capitol champion Lakeside Lutheran, 49-14, in the second; and Rock Valley runner-up Evansville, 6-0, in the third.
West Salem, the Coulee champion, defeated Neillsville, 35-0, in the first round; Coulee rival Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, 36-12, in the second; South Central co-champion Wautoma, 42-0, in the third.
Playoff history: Brodhead-Juda is in the Division 4 semifinals for the third time in five years. The Cardinals were state runners-up to Ripon in 2003 and lost to eventual runner-up St. Francis, 14-7, in the 2004 semifinals. They are making their 16th straight playoff appearance and have an 18-15 postseason record.
West Salem is in the Division 4 semifinals for the third straight year. The Panthers lost to eventual champion Wrightstown, 41-13, last year and lost the 2005 championship game to Ripon, 21-16. This is their seventh straight playoff appearance and 10th overall. They have a 19-9 postseasion record.
Key facts: Brodhead-Juda got the game’s only score with six seconds left to avenge a 40-20 regular-season loss to Evansville in last week’s third round. Jim Matthys called it the Cardinals’ best defensive effort in his three years as their head coach.
Brodhead-Juda’s only other loss was 28-6 to Rock Valley champion Walworth Big Foot (10-1), a 28-23 victim of Evansville (9-3) in the second round of the playoffs. West Salem’s only loss was 49-42 to Onalaska, a Division 2 playoff qualifier, in the second week of the season.
West Salem, which has won nine straight, is coming off a decisive shutout of Wautoma team that dropped a 54-37 bomb on highly regarded Platteville in the second round. The Panthers have outscored their three playoff opponents 113-12 and have a 37.8 season scoring average.
Brodhead-Juda, which has two wins over 2006 runner-up Mayville, is averaging 32 points a game—even after last week’s defensive struggle with Evansville.
Players to watch: Brodhead-Juda tailback Tyler Lincoln rushed for 106 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard dive after a fake handoff to Gary McAdory in last week’s breathtaking win over Evansville. Lincoln, a 5-9, 170-pound senior speedster, has rushed for 555 yards in three playoff games and is up to 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns for the season. McAdory, a 290-pound senior fullback, has been just as relentless in rushing for 1,396 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Hunter Burke, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior and former receiver, leads West Salem’s ground game with 1,735 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns. He scored on a 81-yard pass in last week’s rout of Wautoma and has 10 receptions for 235 yards the last two games. His longest touchdown run this season is 97 yards.
Dan Schneider, the Panthers’ 6-0, 160-pound junior quarterback, has completed 113 of 195 passes with 1,803 yards and 23 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He blitzed Wautoma with a 16-for-19 performance for 290 yards and one touchdown.
Jacob Welch, a 6-1, 190-pound senior, is West Salem’s leading receiver with 52 catches for 1,015 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bottom line: It appears to be a battle to see if Brodhead-Juda’s two-prong ground assault can upstage West Salem’s versatile ground and air attack. The Cardinals figure have a size advantage, but the Panthers counter with an aggressive defense that made a statement last week—as did Brodhead-Juda’s defense.
Prediction Machine says: Brodhead-Juda 28, West Salem 26.
Verona (12-0) vs. Hartland Arrowhead (12-0)
Time: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Site: Monterey Stadium, Janesville.
Playoff status: This is WIAA Division 1 semifinal game. The winner plays Stevens Point (12-0) or defending champion Mequon Homestead (11-1) for the state championship at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Verona defeated Racine Horlick, 37-6, in a first-round playoff game; Racine Park, 31-14, in the second; Kenosha Bradford, 16-6, in the third.
Arrowhead, the Classic Eight champion, defeated Milwaukee Bay View, 57-6, in the first round; Big Eight co-champion Sun Prairie, 38-7, in the second; Greater Metro champion Milwaukee Marquette, 44-41 in two overtimes, in the third.
Playoff history: Verona, the Badger South champion, is making its fourth straight playoff appearance and is 12-8 in nine trips overall. The Wildcats are in Division 1 for only the second time and in the semifinals for the first time since losing Brookfield Central, 9-6, in Division 2 in 2001. They have not lost to anybody since dropping a Division 1 second-round game to Chippewa Falls, 17-14, last year.
Arrowhead, a long-time Division 1 power, lost last year’s state championship game to Homestead, 35-0. The Warhawks are in the playoffs for the 12th straight year and are 37-14 in 18 appearances overall. They won state titles in 1993, 1994 and 1996 and also were runners-up in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
Key facts: This is Janesville’s chance to get a sneak preview of Verona, which will join the Big Eight next fall. With their three victories, the Wildcats have won more playoff games this year than the entire Big Eight in the last three years.
Arrowhead, which averages 42 points a game, has been ranked No. 2 behind Stevens Point in the Associated Press poll most of the season. Verona finished No. 4 and has remained unbeaten despite losing star quarterback Sky Waters with a broken leg in the fourth game.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 6,000 saw Arrowhead rally from 31-20 deficit to edge Marquette in the third round. Marquette tied it at 31-31 with a 42-yard field goal on the last play of regulation, then went up 41-38 on a 22-yard field goal in the second overtime, but quarterback Dan Kieffer’s 5-yard touchdown run then won it for Arrowhead.
Players to watch: Seth Merdler, a 6-1, 190-pound senior, leads Verona’s 3,058-yard ground attack with 121 carries for 1,294 yards and 10 touchdowns. Zach Stangl (5-7, 175, sr..) is the Wildcats’ touchdown leader with 21 and has rushed for 965 yards.
Jake Ferris (5-11, 205, sr.) leads Arrowhead with 176 rushing attempts for 1,438 yards and 31 touchdown. Brian Crook (5-10, 175, soph.) has 106 carries for 1,175 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Bottom line: Verona, which wiped out the Southeast Conference the last two weeks, might be facing a greater challenge here than any it will see anytime soon in the Big Eight.
Prediction Machine says: Arrowhead 31, Verona 21.