A fond farewell to the Big Eight?
The times are changing in Big Eight Conference football.
Gone are the days of the two-way starter.
And possibly, with the implementation of district play next season, gone are the days of Big Eight football in general.
“It’s kind of sad to think that, as early as next year, we might not be a part of the Big Eight Conference in football,” said Janesville Parker’s Joe Dye, the dean of Big Eight coaches.
However, maybe as a last hurrah, Parker High has five players on this year’s All-Big Eight first team.
And with most Big Eight teams using the platoon system as the norm, only one player—Madison West lineman Will Rothschild—has earned first-team recognition on offense and defense.
Heading the list for Parker is tailback Adam Vesterfelt. The sophomore standout exploded onto the scene, thanks to a five-game stretch in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards, including a 314-yard performance against Madison La Follette.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Vesterfelt finished the season with 1,660 yards on 253 carries and 15 touchdowns.
With two more years left to terrorize opposing defenses, Dye believes Vesterfelt is only going to get better.
“I truly believe that Adam’s best football is still ahead of him, and that’s saying a lot, considering the year he had for us,” Dye said.
“But Adam did what all good backs seem to do. He got better as the season went along because his field vision got better, and his offensive line got better.”
One of those lineman is senior Lucas Wimmer, another first-team selection. The 6-0, 240-pounder anchored an offensive line that helped the Vikings earn the school’s 13th WIAA postseason bid in the last 14 years.
“I can’t say enough about the work ethic of Lucas Wimmer,” Dye said. “Just a blue-collar kind of guy that was a real leader for this football team.”
Parker has three players on the first-team defense. Senior Tyler Kartman was selected an inside linebacker, and senior M. Jay Bouska as an outside linebacker.
“M. Jay, more than any other kid, epitomizes what it means to be a year-round athlete,” Dye said. “He made a commitment as a three-sport athlete to be the best that he could in whatever sport he was playing. And if that meant getting into the weight room at six in the morning every day, M. Jay was willing to do that.
“And Tyler made us a better team when he stepped forward and became a true leader on our defense. Physicality is his best suit, and he didn’t miss many tackles.”
Senior Lucas Comstock rounds out the first-team selections for Parker. The 5-9, 160-pounder senior is a unanimous pick in the defensive line.
“Lucas has a motor that doesn’t quit,” Dye said. “He was undersized at his position, but in his case, it wasn’t about the size of the animal in the fight.
“When you move as well laterally as Lucas did, you’re able to overcome a lot of things, and the other coaches in our league recognized that.”
Heading the list of players named the top at their position is Madison East quarterback Drew McAdams. The senior, who will play at the University of Wisconsin as a preferred walk-on next season, was a dual threat as a runner or passer.
“McAdams was incredible,” Dye said. “ I talked to Tony Romo’s coach at Eastern Illinois, and on tape, he thought McAdams reminded him very much of Tony. That’s quite a comparison.”
Verona’s Dave Richardson has been named the Coach of the Year, while the Wildcats’ Aaron Steger is the Assistant Coach of the Year.
Janesville Craig has five players on the second team. Senior cornerback Alex Crandall, junior inside linebacker Mitch Phillips and senior lineman Evan Wiemeri are on defense, while senior tailback Keegan Kelly and senior wide receiver Brett Bates are on offense.
Parker junior center Tyler Brossard also is a second-team selection.