WIAA realignment is a sour subject for many high school fans.
Realignment has torn up traditional conferences—such as the Southern Lakes, Rock Valley and to some extent, the Big Eight—eliminating rivalry games and leading to confusion.
But realignment is needed again for Orfordville Parkview—at least in football.
Parkview was first moved from the Rock Valley to the Trailways Conference for all sports. Then in 2020—the same year Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker were moved to the Badger Large—Parkview was put into the Southwest Wisconsin Athletic League (SWAL).
Craig and Parker moved back to the Big Eight Conference this season with the addition of Sun Prairie West to the southcentral Wisconsin landscape.
A move back to the Trailways might be needed for Parkview.
The six-team SWAL features traditional-power Darlington High, which has appeared in 12 state championship football games, which is second most in state history.
The Redbirds rolled into Orfordville last Friday night. Afterward, Darlington coach Travis Winkers was apologetic. Parkview coach Joe Flister could only hope for better days.
The Redbirds scored 51 points in nine minutes in the second quarter. The final was 87-0.
Winkers said he did everything he could to control the scoring. No one on Parkview’s side is arguing that.
“They are just a rebuilding team,” Winkers said of the Vikings on Tuesday afternoon. “Their numbers are up this year, and that’s a credit to Joe.”
The Redbirds are 4-1, losing a heartbreaker to No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s Springs—a program that has a state-record nine WIAA state titles and 13 state championship game appearances—20-18 in the second game of the season.
In the past two weeks in SWAL play, the Redbirds have defeated Pecatonica/Argyle 72-0 and Parkview 87-0. In the two games, Winkers’ best running back—sophomore Maddox Goebel—had only four carries.
This is a case of poor conference alignment hurting the most talented players.
Darlington did not pass after the first quarter. Its only two passes went for touchdowns covering 59 and 11 yards.
Ten different Redbirds players carried the ball. The most any rusher had was five.
Still, Darlington had nine rushing touchdowns.
“Our leading rusher in attempts was our JV quarterback who we played at fullback,” Winkers said. “Our leading rusher in yards was a different JV fullback.”
Darlington scoring drives were set up by fumble recoveries at the Parkview 1 and at the 10. There was a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Twenty Redbirds recorded a tackle.
The 51 second-quarter points came in a span of nine minutes.
The halftime score was 73-0. Playing reserves with a running clock, Darlington added two touchdowns in the final 24 minutes.
Winkers said there was nothing else he could have done to control the scoring.
“I don’t believe in taking a knee (every play) because I believe that is a bigger slap in the face,” he said. “We just ran our basic stuff.”
Parkview has been outscored 208-0 in three SWAL losses. The bottom three teams in the six-team SWAL—Cuba City, Fennimore and Parkview—have been outscored 444-82 while each going 0-3.
That’s a case of the haves vs. the have nots.
Guy Stricker, the Parkview athletic director, harbors no ill will toward Darlington, but he did spot a disturbing trend as he glanced through the high school football scores from last Friday.
“A great majority of games were blowouts,” Stricker said.
He said there was an 80-point margin in one game. There was a 70-point margin in another. Two games were decided by more than 60 points, nine by 50 points or more, 16 by more than 40 and 22 by more than 30.
“This was not even the entire list of games played Friday,” Stricker said.
The athletic director is disturbed by the unbalanced playing field.
“It is truly a situation where many of the teams are playing schedules that they simply have no business playing,” Stricker said. “They have been placed in conferences where the competitive balance is a joke.”
That makes it difficult for a coach like Flister, who came to guide Parkview two seasons ago after spending many years in the Parker High program.
“It is nearly impossible to rebuild or build a program when you have been put in a conference where you stand no chance of, not only never winning but never being competitive,” Stricker said.
Winkers understands. He told Flister that after time expired in the 87-0 game.
“I apologized to Joe afterward,” Winkers said. “He said, ‘You have nothing to apologize about. You’re scoring with your twos and threes against our ones. We just have to get better.’”
Stricker, who served four years in the Marine Corps, pushes that attitude. He is a positive person who preaches a strong work ethic to Parkview athletes.
All he wants is a fair shot. Stricker has made that clear to the WIAA.
“This is something that needs to be fixed at the top,” Stricker said. “We will not discontinue the season.
“I have asked to be put back in the Trailways for football.”
There is one bright spot. The Vikings play at Cuba City on Friday night. The Cubans have an identical 0-5 record.
Middleton (2-3 overall, 2-1 in Big Eight) at Janesville Craig (3-1-1, 2-1), Big Eight Conference, 7 p.m., Monterey Stadium—This is a key game in the conference matching two of the four teams tied for second place behind Verona (3-0).
The Cardinals have a 2-3 record, but that is deceiving. Middleton opened the season with a 38-21 loss to Bay Port. The Pirates are 5-0 and ranked No. 3 behind Mukwonago and Kimberly in this week’s AP Division 1 poll.
Middleton also lost at No. 4-ranked Waunakee 17-14 and suffered its one Big Eight loss at conference-leading Verona 13-7.
Craig’s only loss of the season came against Janesville Parker, but this likely is the Cougars’ toughest challenge this season.
Janesville Parker (3-2, 1-2) at Madison West (2-3, 2-1), Big Eight, 7 p.m., Mansfield Stadium—The Vikings travel to Madison needing a win to even their Big Eight record.
Parker played conference-leader Verona even last Friday at Monterey Stadium, but mistakes and Wildcats running back Trey Engram prevailed 26-19.
The Regents lost to Madison East 31-27, a team that was looking for its first Big Eight victory.
West averages just 210 yards a game, and it will have to contend with the Vikings’ J.J. Douglas. The junior is averaging 18.2 yards per touch, with 428 yards rushing and 394 receiving.
AREA GAMES FRIDAY
(7 p.m. starting times) Badger
Milton (2-3 overall, 2-1 in conference) at Portage (3-2, 2-1)
Monroe (5-0, 3-0) at Delavan-Darien (2-3, 2-1)
Whitewater (0-5, 0-3) at East Troy (1-4, 0-3)
Evansville (2-3, 2-1) at Jefferson (1-4, 1-2)
McFarland (2-3, 2-1) at Edgerton (2-3, 2-1)
Wilmot (3-2, 1-2) at Elkhorn (2-3, 0-3)
Badger (4-1, 3-0) at Burlington (2-3, 2-1)
Lodi (5-0, 3-0) at Big Foot (1-4, 0-3)
Turner (3-2, 1-2) at Lakeside Lutheran (4-1, 2-1)
Markesan (5-0, 3-0) at Clinton (4-1, 2-1)
Parkview/Albany (0-5, 0-3) at Cuba City (0-5, 0-3)
Dodgeville (3-2, 1-2) at Brodhead/Juda (5-0, 3-0), 1 p.m.