Cedarburg survives, will face Waunakee for Division 2 title
The Bulldogs’ last three playoff opponents en route to a berth in the Division 2 title game at 1 p.m. Friday at Camp Randall Stadium—Ashwaubenon, Kimberly and Marshfield—have a combined 14 state finals appearances, and have totaled eight state championships since 1997.
Cedarburg’s reward for navigating such an arduous road to Camp Randall? A matchup with defending Division 2 state champion Waunakee, which is seeking its fourth state championship in six title-game appearances since 1999.
“There’s no bargains in
Division 2,” said Waunakee coach Pat Rice. “Everywhere you look, every bracket, there’s very established programs and great coaches and good players. You really don’t get a bargain going anywhere.”
The Bulldogs (12-1) are well aware. After suffering their only loss of the season to North Shore Conference rival Homestead—which has two Division 1 state titles in the past four years—Cedarburg opened the postseason with a 42-0 victory over West Bend West before slipping past undefeated No. 1 seed Ashwaubenon, 31-28.
That set the stage for a dramatic double-overtime, 31-30 victory over Kimberly before the Bulldogs clinched their first appearance at Camp Randall in the state semifinals over Marshfield.
“Ashwaubenon, Kimberly, Marshfield and Waunakee … you’re not going to be able to get to Madison without going through those type of programs,” said Cedarburg coach Brian Leair. “It’s created a pretty tough path each year for whoever makes it to Madison.”
Leading the Bulldogs down that path has been senior running back Logan Lauters, who leads the state with 2,539 yards rushing and has scored 33 touchdowns.
Waunakee (13-0) boasts a prolific rusher of its own in junior back Leo Musso, who has amassed 1,748 yards and 33 TDs. Senior tight end Austin Maly, a University of Wisconsin recruit, has 677 yards receiving and nine touchdowns.
The Warriors, who led the Division 2 field in scoring, put up more than 40 points in all but one of their regular-season games, and their defense ranks No. 2 in Division 2 in points against.
“We like to play fast, there’s no question about that,” Rice said. “This group is certainly starting to play a lot faster and swarm to the football and finish and all of the things we like to do.”
Cedarburg is the only team to be making its state title game debut of the 14 finalists, which include seven schools that played in a title game last year.
- Stevens Point (10-3) vs. Waukesha West (12-1), 4 p.m. Friday.
When Stevens Point opened the season 2-3, which included embarrassing losses to Kenosha Bradford (48-17) and Minnetonka, Minn. (42-3), it caused a crisis of confidence among the Panthers.
“We were in a situation once again of looking in a mirror and figuring out what our identity is and how good we were really capable of being,” Stevens Point coach Pete McAdams said.
Turns out, the Panthers were good enough to make their first state-final appearance since 1977, after falling one game short of Camp Randall in three of the past four years.
The last time Stevens Point played for the championship, the Panther lost to Tim Stracka and Madison West, 19-14, at Mansfield Stadium in Madison.
Since its early struggles this season, Stevens Point has rattled off eight straight victories. They include a 29-28 victory over Wisconsin Rapids in the second round of the playoffs, during which the Panthers successfully went for two points after scoring with less than a minute to play.
“We never took our eye off the prize or never changed our goals,” said McAdams, whose team won the Wisconsin Valley Conference, which was dominated by Schofield Everst for a long time. “In hindsight now, some of the things that happened were beneficial to us.”
Waukesha West, the 2004 Division 2 state champion, tied with perennial power Hartland Arrowhead for the Classic Eight Conference title. The Wolverines defeated Kenosha Bradford—the same team that soundly whipped Stevens Point earlier in the year—in the state semifinals, 30-15.
“Stevens Point is probably a much different football team than they were in Week 2, and I know we’re a much different team as well,” Wolverines coach Steve Rux said. “Teams that make it to the finals are teams that continue to improve and correct the mistakes that they’ve made in the past.”
-- West De Pere (13-0) vs. Waukesha Memorial (11-2), 10 a.m. Friday.
The undefeated Phantoms are back in the title game after falling to Reedsburg 34-27, a year ago. This time, they’re hoping to replicate the Beavers’ feat of winning the state championship a year after falling just short.
Junior quarterback Jay Tollefson, a receiver a year ago, leads the West De Pere offense in passing and running. He has accounted for 1,224 yards through the air and 927 on the ground, with a total of 32 touchdowns.
Catholic Memorial, which is the only unseeded team to make the state finals, has an opportunistic defense that has forced 38 turnovers this year.
Memorial lost to Division 1 finalist Waukesha West, 30-17, and perennial Division 1 power Hartland Arrowhead 10-7, during the Classic Eight Conference season. The Crusaders made it to Camp Randall by holding off Southern Lakes champion Delavan-Darien and its high-powered offense, 30-20, in the semifinals.