Janesville Parker’s Sam O’Leary throws the ball during the first half of their game agains Milton at Monterey Stadium in Janesville on Friday, April 9.

The foray of the Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker football programs into the Badger Large Conference will be short-lived.

It’s back to the Big Eight for the two city schools’ football teams starting with the 2022 season.

The WIAA’s Task Force Committee recently voted down seven alternate realignment plans not recommended by the committee for board approval that originated from four member schools and impacted 23 schools.

Portage was one of the four member schools that came up with a new realignment proposal, and it would’ve sent Craig and Parker into the Badger South Conference—for football only—along with Beloit Memorial, Milton, Fort Atkinson, Stoughton and Watertown. The conference schools would have played a six-game conference schedule, a likely crossover game with a Badger North team and two nonconference games.

In the Reedsburg realignment proposal, the city schools would have been part of the Southern Lakes Conference along with Elkhorn, Beloit Memorial, Burlington, Wilmot, Waterford, Lake Geneva Badger and Westosha Central. Teams would have played a nine-game conference-only schedule with no nonconference games.

Craig High coach Adam Bunderson was high on the Portage proposal.

“I think their proposal fit us the best,” Bunderson said. “The biggest thing was the travel time. I think our longest bus trip would’ve been a half hour or so. That’s a big deal.

“Plus, you keep the Parker and Beloit rivalry going, along with adding in Milton and Fort Atkinson. It made the most sense.”

Craig and Parker were scheduled to play in the Badger Large Conference starting in the fall of 2020, but the entire season was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Both city schools are playing this spring in the alternate fall season. The schedules are officially nonconference games only, though the majority of the teams on them are from what would’ve been the Badger Large Conference.

Bunderson thought the WIAA Task Force would look into the various proposals more than it did based on feedback from so many schools affected, but that wasn’t the case.

“It was totally out of our control, and that’s too bad,” Bunderson. “As head coach, I want what’s best for our program, and I don’t think we’re getting that by going back to the Big Eight.

“I can’t speak for everybody else, but it’s certainly not the outcome we were hoping for. But who knows, maybe it will turn out for the better.”

The bottom line in all of this is that the Sun Prairie School District got its way, while so many other area schools were left in the dark. With Sun Prairie West starting competition in 2022 and Sun Prairie East already a fixture, the district got its wish of joining the Badger Conference for football only while staying in the Big Eight for all other sports.

Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. That seems to be the case for Sun Prairie.

Game of the Week

  • Brodhead/Juda (3-0) at New Glarus/Monticello (3-0), nonconference, 7 p.m., today, New Glarus High School—It’s a battle of unbeatens in Week 4 of the alternate fall season.

The Knights come into the game with the state’s top-ranked quarterback. Darrius Schuett leads the state with 793 passing yards and nine touchdowns. Receiver Nathan Streiff has 21 receptions for 303 yards and three TDs.

“Obviously you have to stop their passing attack,” Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said. “That means we’ve got to get pressure up front, something we’ve done a pretty good job of thus far.”

Brodhead/Juda is coming off a 46-0 shutout of Poynette and has been solid on both sides of the ball.

“There’s a buzz around our school right now with our football team, and now with the volleyball team going to state,” Matthys said. “It’s a nice relief from everything else that’s going on for our school, especially the kids.

“Football-wise, we’re a very physical team that’s getting better each week. And our younger kids are getting a chance to play, which is going to be very beneficial when we get to the fall season.”

Best guess: Brodhead/Juda 33, New Glarus/Monticello 20.

John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette. Email him at jbarry@gazettextra.com.


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