Coming into the alternate fall football season, Rodney Wedig wasn’t sure what to expect.
The second-year Milton High coach knew this season would be like no other for so many reasons. COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines would steer the season in whichever direction it wanted. The Red Hawks are hoping to play a seven-game regular-season schedule, but they were forced to add the Madison West Club team as the Week 7 opponent when no other schools participating in the alternate fall season were available.
Two weeks into the season, Milton has played both games with no COVID backlash. Field conditions were more of a factor, as both games were played on turf fields at Walworth Big Foot and McFarland with Milton’s grass home field not ready.
“It’s definitely different from anything I’ve experienced in the past,” Wedig said. “But more than anything, I’m just glad to be back playing. It means a lot to these kids, especially the seniors.
“And the one thing that you have to keep in mind—and I have to keep reminding my coaches on—is that four months from now, we’ll be handing out equipment again for next season.”
Unlike several area teams that are battling a lack of numbers in the alternate fall season, Wedig said he’s got about the same number of kids out this spring that he expects in the fall. He said rotating kids in and out in not only practices but games is essential during this season.
“Usually when you come into a season in the fall, you’ve had your summer 7-on-7 passing leagues, a couple of weeks of two-a-days and a scrimmage game before the regular season starts,” Wedig said, “You’re able to just kind of roll into the season knowing kids are in good shape and ready to go.
“I’m not saying kids weren’t ready to go for this season or didn’t work hard in the weight room in the offseason, but it’s just not the same. We weren’t even sure for a while if we were even going to have a season.”
Milton struggled in its season-opening loss to Fort Atkinson but bounced back in a big way in a Week 2 win over Mount Horeb/Barneveld. Wedig said the reason was simple.
“We had to find out who we are,” Wedig said. “I basically went home after the first game, looked at the film and re-did everything. It came down to what best-suited our personnel and moving forward with the same five guys on the offensive line.”
And moving forward with a different, but much-needed, season.
Game of the Week
Milton (1-1) at Janesville Parker (1-1), nonconference, 7 p.m., Friday, Monterey Stadium--These schools haven’t met since the 2012 season, with the Red Hawks winning the nonconference tilt 31-7.
Milton picked up win No. 1 of the alternate fall season last Saturday by rolling past Mount Horeb/Barneveld 50-14. Back-up quarterback Cayden Zajac ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. Starter Evan Jordahl was nursing an injury.
“Zajac is not as fast as Jordahl, but he is a gamer,” Wedig said. “He started a little shaky with the pick-six, but after that, once he settled in, I was very impressed.”
Wedig praised the play of his defense that allowed only 95 yards of total offense against Mount Horeb/Barneveld, but knows the test gets much tougher Friday night.
“When watching Parker on film, the one thing that sticks out is how physical they are,” Wedig said. “We’re going to have to match that.
“This will be the best team we’ve faced, and the best quarterback, too.”
Parker lost 34-7 last Friday to 2019 Division 3 state champion DeForest. The Vikings trailed 7-0 at halftime but saw the Norskies score the first 14 points of the third quarter to take control.
“Though we saw great effort from our kids all night, we were disappointed with the outcome of the game last Friday,” Parker coach Clayton Kreger said. “I thought our kids played the defending state champions tough, however, we had our chances to win the that game, and unfortunately, didn’t capitalize on those opportunities.
“And we know Milton is a very good football team, and we’re battling through several reasons for player absences including a ton of injuries, so we’re basically starting from scratch this week. Many JV and freshmen guys will get new opportunities to compete at a higher level.”
Best guess: Milton 20, Parker 13