We’ve reached the end of the regular season.

Week 9 is upon us, and for many area teams, it signals the end of the season, as well.

I didn’t get a chance to see every area team play, but I read enough, heard enough and saw enough game film on Hudl to put together what I feel is an awards package worthy of honoring area teams and players that stood out.

Here’s a look at some of the outstanding performances.

Best team

Brodhead/Juda gets the nod, and it’s not even close.

The Cardinals are 8-0 overall, and at 6-0 in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference, have already clinched a league title.

Coach Jim Matthys’ team is averaging more points a game at 44.5 than it has allowed all season in 43.

Brodhead/Juda should get a No. 1 seed, and as a likely Division 5 playoff qualifier, could be headed to a state championship game at Camp Randall for the first time since 2010.

Best player

Cole Berghorn has been a one-man wrecking crew for Lake Geneva Badger. The senior running back is third in the state in rushing with 1,727 yards, fourth in touchdowns with 22 and fourth in yards per game with 215.9.

The bruising 6-foot-1, 210-pound machine has a season-high 328 yards in a win over Waterford and has topped the century mark in rushing all eight games.

Best player I have seen

The nod here goes to Jake Schaffner. The all-everything Janesville Craig junior has played a major role on a team that needs a win Friday over Milton to secure an improbable playoff berth.

As an offensive catalyst, Schaffner has 33 receptions for 559 yards and four touchdowns. He’s averaging a whopping 16.9 yards per reception and 10.7 yards per rush.

As a linebacker, Schaffner is second on the team in tackles and was the solely responsible for Craig rallying from a 14-0 deficit to beat Watertown. His 64-yard interception return for a touchdown changed the entire complexion of the game, as Watertown was driving to go up 21-0.

Milton’s Jack Campion is certainly in the conversation for best player I saw. The senior never comes off the field and is one of the top punt/kick returners in the state. He’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball, and as the leader of the Red Hawks’ secondary, is someone opposing quarterbacks look to avoid when passing.

{h3 style=”text-align: center;”}Best coaching job{/h3}

Maybe a 3-5 record isn’t considered all that great, but when you realize what Adam Bunderson was up against, you have to appreciate in a big way what Craig’s head coach has accomplished this season.

Bunderson and the Cougars were picked by most to finish last in the Badger Large Conference. Craig was winless in the alternate fall season last spring and was lacking numbers and experience coming into the 2021 fall season.

All Bunderson and his team have done is go 3-3 in the Badger Large, and win, lose or draw Friday night against Milton, are likely headed for a postseason bid. That’s coaching at its best.

As we wrap up the regular season and look to the postseason, here’s a look at the two city games, which both have playoff implications on the line.

Janesville Craig (3-5, 3-3) at Milton (3-5, 2-4), Badger Large, 7 p.m., Friday, at Milton High School—The Cougars need a win to clinch a postseason berth, while the Red Hawks could certainly improve their playoff chances with a win.

Milton kept its postseason hopes alive last week by throttling Oregon. Zack Bothun led the way, rushing for 346 yards and five touchdowns.

“Milton has a couple of good running backs, good special teams and an aggressive defense,” Bunderson said. “It will be very important for us this week to be disciplined in our assignments and play with great energy.”

Craig has lost two straight but can right the ship and secure an automatic playoff berth with a win.

The Cougars’ offense will look to get back on track after being held to six points last week by Waunakee.

Senior quarterback Hunter Klietz has thrown for 1,273 yard and nine touchdowns.

“We talked about on Monday how this really is a playoff game for us,” Bunderson said. “Win and we definitely get to play again next week.”

Best guess: Milton 27, Craig 20

DeForest (7-1, 5-1) at Janesville Parker (3-5, 2-4), Badger Large, 7 p.m., Friday, at Monterey Stadium--The Norskies have already clinched a playoff berth, while the Vikings must win to have an outside shot at a bid.

DeForest is ranked second in Division 2 behind conference rival Waunakee—which handed the Norskies their only loss of the season.

Quarterback Mason Keyes has thrown for 1,229 yards and 25 TDs. Running back Cale Drinka has rushed for 817 yards and nine touchdowns.

“We know we have to be great in all three phasesof the game,” Parker coach Clayton Kreger said of playing DeForest. “Offensively, we need to stay true to who we are, stay away from pre-snap penalties, and take care of the football. Defensively, we have to play assignment football, rally to the ball, and be sound in our tackling.”

Parker won its second straight game in beating Beaver Dam last Friday.

We have roughly 60 guys on our roster and every single guy in that locker room is pivotal to our success,” Kreger said. “We are excited for another opportunity to compete!”

Best guess: DeForest 34, Parker 21

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