Capitol South Conference - Full Schedule Here
2016 Standings (Go to team name for full preview)
New Glarus/Monticello - 6-4 (4-0) - Lost in Level 1 to Arcadia in D5 playoffs
Returning/Lost All-Conference: 6/5
"What we did last year was fun, and give us some momentum. However, we have to earn everything we get, and there are good football teams in our conference and on our schedule." - Head Coach Jeff Eichelkraut
Waterloo - 4-6 (3-1) - Lost in Level 1 to Pecatonica/Argyle in D6 playoffs
Returning/Lost All-Conference: 3/6
"I'm looking forward to the challenge that each of our [Capitol South] conference teams brings each and every week. It will be a fight for the conference title, which will bring the best out of everyone." - Waterloo Head Coach Paul Scheel
Marshall - 3-7 (2-2) - Lost in Level 1 to Clinton in D5 playoffs
Returning/Lost All-Conference: 3/5
"We feel like we are going to be very good up front, and that's where it all begins. We also like the fact that we return the entire back end of our defense. We have some playmakers on offense who can score anytime they have the ball in their hands." - Head Coach Matt Kleinheinz
Belleville - 5-4 (1-3) - Missed playoffs
Returning/Lost All-Conference: 4/5
"We have a very promising outlook with a lot of young, athletic players. We are expecting another winning season." - Head Coach Chase Ritter
Cambridge - 3-6 (0-4) - Missed playoffs
Returning/Lost All-Conference: 3/2
"[We] return 16 to 18 starters, along with [all of our specialists]... We'll have some big games, and [we] will be competitive." - Cambridge Blue Jays Head Coach Paul Klingbeil
Returning 2016 All-Conference Team
QB: Spencer DeForest (SR), 2nd Team - Cambridge
RB: Zach Feller (JR), 1st Team/OPY - New Glarus/Monticello; Kelvin Opaku (JR), 2nd Team - Marshall; Tanner Jelle (SR), 2nd Team - New Glarus/Monticello; Camden Eagen (JR), HM - Cambridge
TE: Drew Shrader (SR), HM - Belleville; Jordan Marty (SO), HM - Cambridge
OL: Jonah Thompson (SR), 1st Team - New Glarus/Monticello; Mitchell Lauersdorf (SR), 1st Team - Waterloo; Jessiah Tetner (SR), 2nd Team - New Glarus/Monticello; Edwin Vazuez (SR), 2nd Team
DL: Adam Marty (SR), 1st Team/DLY - New Glarus/Monticello; Tanner Schoenherr (SR), 2nd Team - Waterloo
LB: Jonah Thompson (SR), 1st Team/DPY - New Glarus/Monticello; Jon Errthum (SR), 2nd Team - New Glarus/Monticello; Camden Eagen (JR), 2nd Team - Cambridge; Drew Shrader (SR), 2nd Team - Belleville
DB: Spencer DeForest (SR), 1st Team - Cambridge; Kelvin Opaku (JR), 2nd Team - Marshall; Dalton Fahey (SR), 2nd Team - Belleville
K: Cody McMillan (SR), 1st Team - Belleville
P: Dalton Fahey (SR), 1st Team - Belleville; Easton Ellis (SR), 2nd Team - Waterloo; Brock Riege (SR), HM - Marshall
ST: Kelvin Opaku (JR), 1st Team - Marshall; Luke Kelly (JR), 2nd Team - Belleville
Based on information from coaches and returning players
New Glarus/Monticello: The defending champs bring back depth, have solid numbers, and return some of the most outstanding performers in the conference last season, including the offensive, defensive, and defensive line players of the year in 2016. Zach Feller (OPY), Jonah Thompson (DPY), and Adam Marty (DLY) will lead the way for the Glarner Knights.
Marshall: The 3-7 record last year was a bit of an aberration, but the Cardinals bring back loads of experience by virtue of having to play many younger players on varsity during the season. Three-position all-conference honoree Kelvin Opaku will be the player to watch on the Cardinals.
Belleville: After missing out on the playoffs by virtue of a de facto play-in game against Marshall, Belleville returns the most decorated special teams unit in the conference, as well as two-position all-conference seniors Dalton Fahey and Drew Shrader.
Waterloo: With a trio of multi-positional standout seniors leading the way in Mitchell Lauersdorf, Tanner Schoenherr, and Easton Ellis, the Pirates will find tougher sledding in the Capitol South this season in order to replicate a second-place finish in 2016 and a conference title in 2015.
Cambridge: Youth will be on display for the Blue Jays this season, although two-position all-conference pick Spencer DeForest returns as one of the Capitol South's standout players. After going 0-4 in the conference last year, Cambridge is soon to be on the rise.
Every team in the Capitol South can be considered a contender, since it only takes two wins to become playoff-eligible, and four of the five teams have won or shared a conference championship. Most coaches agree that the conference will be deep and competitive week-to-week. The class of 2019 is impressive across the board, and many of these teams will start sophomores that have already played on varsity as freshmen. New Glarus/Monticello was the most-cited team as a favorite for the conference title by Badger South coaches.
Week 1: Lake Mills at Marshall (NC) - The L-Cats feature one of the state's top QB-WR duos and bring loads of talent back for a run at Capitol North favorite Lodi. This will be one of the more intriguing match-ups in the entire area in the opening week.
Week 2: New Glarus/Monticello at Lake Mills (NC) - For the same reasons mentioned above, the Glarner Knights will get a chance to showcase their strong returning talent against what figures to be one of the better teams in the greater Madison area.
Week 2: Boscobel at Belleville (NC) - This game will be a celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the State Line League Football Championship.
Week 3: New Glarus/Monticello at Lakeside Lutheran (NC) - Lakeside Lutheran is another Capitol North team looking to advance to the playoffs this season in a rugged league, and this could be an interesting match-up early on.
Week 4: Lodi at Marshall (NC) - Lodi is a favorite to win the Capitol North, and Marshall will be tested early as they work in more and more experienced underclassmen to varsity.
Week 4: Belleville at Lake Mills (NC) - We will have a good idea of what the relative strength of the Capitol South is as they do battle against Lake Mills in three of the four weeks to open the season. Based on last year's records, this will be Belleville's first real test of the season.
Week 5: Belleville at New Glarus/Monticello: It won't take long for the Wildcats to test their mettle against the defending champions. For NG/M, this is an important first step in a title defense, while for the Wildcats, in order to ascend from a winning record to a playoff berth and conference champion, taking down last year's champs would be a giant leap towards those goals.
Week 6: New Glarus/Monticello at Marshall: The Glarner Knights don't have any time to rest, since Marshall is up next. The Cardinals have made the playoffs for 11 straight seasons and will be a more experienced team in 2017. NG/M's conference title defense will be tested in back-to-back weeks.
Week 6: Darlington at Cambridge (NC): This game will be the dedication of Bob Nodolf Field, as the Cambridge Blue Jays welcome in last year's D6 runner-up, Darlington.
Week 7: Waterloo at Marshall and Belleville at Cambridge: Hugely important games since Belleville and Waterloo will have only one more conference game to go after this week, and if they haven't won in league play to this point, this represents what is essentially a playoff game to them. For the home teams, they could earn one of the two required wins for playoff eligibility.
Week 8: New Glarus/Monticello at Waterloo: Last year's first- and second-place teams go at it, in Waterloo's final conference game of the season. This could potentially again be a near-conference championship game.
Week 9: Marshall at Belleville: Last year, this was a play-in game to the playoffs. Given the paths these teams will have to take and the players returning, it could easily be the same case in 2017.
--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska