190829_FBWEEKEND01

Janesville Craig's Tegan Christiansen knocks the ball out and away from Janesville Parker's Brody Lippens during the first half of their annual crosstown rivalry game in 2018.

So far, the best thing to come out of Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker playing football in the Badger Large Conference next season is the fact that the Battle for the Monterey Rock will NEVER have to take place again before school starts.

Both schools will play two nonconference games to start next season before embarking on a seven-game conference season beginning in Week 3.

This season, for the third year in a row, Craig and Parker square off at Monterey Stadium before Janesville public schools start. Teachers are back prepping for the 2019-20 school year, but no students will be in the hallways until Tuesday. That means no pep assemblies. No pregame hype among players, students and staff. No one to tell the incoming freshmen how big of a deal the game is and to get your butts in the stands to show support.

Parker coach Clayton Kreger probably said it best when talking about “The Game” and its importance—both on and off the field.

“It doesn’t matter if we are playing in the Big Eight, the Badger Large, or any other conference they decide to put us in,” Kreger said. “Parker vs. Craig in the battle for the Monterey Rock will always be a great event for the city of Janesville.”

As former Gazette sports editor Dave Wedeward so eloquently wrote about in our annual football preview section, the storied history of the two city schools in Big Eight football is coming to an end. The schools will continue to play one another but in a different conference.

“I don’t think it’s really going to hit me until next year,” Craig coach Adam Bunderson said. “Right now, it’s just another Craig vs. Parker game that gives bragging rights to one side of town for the next year.

“What I do like is the fact that we have two nonconference games starting next year, so we know we won’t ever play Parker again before school starts. But we don’t play Beloit next year, and that’s really disappointing. That’s a rivalry that goes back a long time.”

Here’s a look at three key games on the docket Friday night, including the crosstown clash.

Janesville Craig (0-1) at Janesville Parker (0-1), Big Eight, 7 p.m. Friday, Monterey Stadium—The battle for the Monterey Rock figures to be low-scoring as both teams search for an identity on offense. The Cougars have won two straight in the series, six of the last seven and lead the all-time series 32-20.

Craig had a late touchdown called back in losing its opener to Beloit Memorial.

Quarterback Eric Hughes generated most of the offense for Craig. He threw for 231 yards and rushed for a 120 yards and two touchdowns.

“More than anything, we’ve got to be more consistent on both sides of the ball,” Bunderson said. “We had 16 penalties for 146 yards against Beloit, and that’s probably the difference between winning and losing.

“I thought Parker did some good things against a Verona team that probably has the most talent in the conference. They moved the ball, and I thought they played pretty well defensively. They just got hurt by a couple of big plays. I expect a close game Friday.”

Parker lost 41-7 to Verona, but the Wildcats are going to put up those numbers against a lot of teams with the wealth of talent they have on offense. The Vikings did a decent job of moving the ball between the 30s but stalled once they got near the red zone.

“As we prepare for Week 2, we will rely on our offensive line again on Friday night,” Kreger said. “As coaches often say, games are often won and lost in the trenches. We need to continue to play penalty-free, take care of the football, sustain long drives on offense, play assignment defense, and win the kicking game.”

Best guess: Parker 20, Craig 14

Evansville (1-0) at Edgerton (1-0), Rock Valley, 7 p.m. Friday, Edgerton High School--These longtime Highway 59 rivals meet in a key early-season Rock Valley matchup.

Coming off a winless 2018 season, Evansville pulled the surprise of Week 1 by rolling past Brodhead/Juda 47-21 in its opener. The Blue Devils led 34-6 at half.

Junior quarterback Tyr Severson threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns, while wide receiver Jaden O’Bel caught two passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns.

Edgerton, which advanced to the state quarterfinals a year ago in Division 4, kicked off the season with an impressive 28-7 win on the road over defending Rock Valley champion McFarland.

Ethan Krause rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Drew Hanson threw for 170 yards and a TD.

Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said his team was pumped up after losing to McFarland in the season-opener a year ago.

“We even neglected our scrimmage a little bit to focus our attention on McFarland,” Gregory said. “We had been gearing up for that game for three weeks and the first day of practice.

“And I thought we had a little bit of an advantage because our kids are already in school. That put us in more of a normal routine.”

Best guess: Edgerton 34, Evansville 14

Mount Horeb/Barneveld (0-1) at Milton (1-0), nonconference, 7 p.m. Friday, Milton High School—Another solid Badger crossover test for the Red Hawks before the Badger South season gets underway next week. The Vikings, who are coached by former Delavan-Darien head man Bret St. Arnauld, were 9-3 last season and advanced to the Division 3 quarterfinals.

Mount Horeb/Barneveld lost in a shootout in Week 1 to Watertown.

The Vikings returned all-conference quarterback Ethan Post and receiver Charlie Fish, but Post is likely out for the year. The junior fractured a bone in his shoulder in the Week 1 loss and is likely out for the season.

“It’s a complete change in the offenses that we’re seeing from Week 1 to Week 2,” Milton coach Rodney Wedig said. “Baraboo was more of a power running-type team, while Mount Horeb likes to put the ball in the air. We’ve had to put quite a few new wrinkles in our defense this week to get ready.”

Milton opened the season by dismantling Baraboo 55-15 on the road.

Evan Jordahl threw for 161 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The Red Hawks also rushed for 239 yards.

“Our defense did a really nice job of complementing our offense,” Wedig said. “They made a couple of stops and put us in good field position, and the offense took advantage of that.”

Best guess: Milton 27, Mount Horeb/Barneveld 14

Week 2

GAMES FRIDAY

(7 p.m. starting time)

BIG EIGHT

Janesville Craig at Janesville Parker

Sun Prairie at Beloit Memorial

Madison Memorial at Madison La Follette

Madison East at Madison West

Verona at Middleton

ROCK VALLEY

Walworth Big Foot at Beloit Turner

Evansville at Edgerton

Whitewater at East Troy

Brodhead/Juda at Clinton

McFarland at Jefferson

AREA NONCONFERENCE

Mount Horeb/Barneveld at Milton

Delavan-Darien at Milwaukee North (6 p.m. start)

Lake Geneva Badger at Kenosha Bradford

Elkhorn at Lakeside Lutheran

Belleville at Orfordville Parkview/Albany

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