For nine straight weeks beginning Aug. 23, Friday nights belong to high school football.
Well, maybe 10, 11, 12, 13—even 14—if you’re really lucky.
And technically speaking, it all begins just days from now on Thursday.
But, with the season right around the corner, why argue semantics? Instead, I’m going to use my time to pick the nine games I’m most interested—one from every week of the season.
Hopefully this will tide you over until The Gazette’s annual high school football preview section comes out Wednesday.
Edgerton at McFarland—McFarland was the only team to beat Edgerton until the Crimson Tide’s postseason run came to an end in a WIAA Division 4 state quarterfinal.
And it was in Week 1 that the Spartans won that game, setting the tone for a 9-0 run through the Rock Valley Conference. Edgerton finished second at 8-1.
Here they are meeting again in an opener that could be a difference-maker in a conference title race.
Janesville Craig at Janesville Parker—The Big Eight Conference has been very good for the Janesville schools, and it will continue to be for all other sports even after the football teams are realigned to the Badger Large next year.
But one thing I won’t miss is the conference being unable to find a way to make sure the Battle for Monterey Rock isn’t played until at least after the first day of school.
This is the fourth time in six years the city rivals will meet before school is in session.
Alas, the two foes typically put on a good show, and this year should be no different.
Craig has won six of the past seven meetings and is 32-20 in the series overall.
Badger at Wilmot—The Badgers experienced a rare down year last season, finishing 4-6.
Will they rebound to contend for at least a share of their fourth Southern Lakes Conference title in the past five years?
This game might go a long way in determining that.
Parkview/Albany at Montello/Princeton/Green Lake—I feel like I could’ve picked several games from this intriguing week of local games, including first-year Milton coach Rodney Wedig taking the Red Hawks to powerhouse Monona Grove or a pair of first-year coaches squaring off when Whitewater hosts Big Foot.
But I’m giving the nod to this Trailways Large game, because Parkview beat the Montello co-op, 56-51, in a Week 10 game last year. It was a makeup of a game postponed early in the season.
The victory ended a 17-game losing streak for the Vikings.
Clinton at Big Foot—I know I started out this column touting Friday nights, but I’ve gotta pick this Week 5 Saturday afternoon game.
Big Foot will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its 2009 state championship team that was coached by Wedig.
The game is set for 2 p.m., so potentially you could watch the Wisconsin-Michigan game on TV at 11 and then scoot to Walworth to watch a little Rock Valley action.
Milton at Stoughton—The Red Hawks likely have several swing games that will determine whether they make a playoff push in Wedig’s first year.
This game looks to be one of those, and Stoughton won last year’s meeting 26-14.
East Troy at Edgerton—The last two meetings between these teams have featured a total of 191 points.
Edgerton won last season, 47-28, while East Troy won in a 2017 contest that tested the scoreboard operators and ended in a 64-52 Trojans victory.
Union Grove at Elkhorn—The Elks appear to be headed in the right direction and are a darling pick to make a run to the postseason.
They lost to Union Grove, 21-19, last year, one of two two-point losses. Had those two games swung the other way, we’d have been talking about an Elkhorn team coming off a playoff appearance. Instead, they’re coming off a 2-7 season.
Craig-Memorial and Beloit-Parker—Janesville closes out its long and illustrious run in the Big Eight Conference.
Will either team have something to play for other than pride by this point?
If making the playoffs is still a possibility, either of these games could be a lot of fun.