It's the first week of the season, and we've got you covered with all of the games coming up tonight!
Listen at 6:45pm for our Madison Taxi Game of the Week:
Madison Memorial at Middleton (Madison Taxi Game of the Week)
Last year: Middleton rolled to an easy 31-3 victory in a lightning-shortened game. Memorial couldn't get out of its own way with turnovers, and a short-handed offense wasn't able to deal with increasingly poor playing conditions. The Cardinals pounded away offensively and the game was never in question.
Genesis Painting Coaches' Corner: Middleton's Tim Simon has said all week that even if the Cardinals were healthy, that Memorial would be bringing a ton of talent into Otto Breitenbach stadium this week. Simon's squad will be working in a brand-new offensive line, and will start a pair of sophomores in the season opener. Meanwhile, Memorial's Adam Smith knows something about starting sophomores on varsity, since two of his players ended up all-conference last year (and now are juniors). He said the Spartans have been very competitive in camp at every position, telling The Big 1070 "iron sharpens iron" when it comes to some of the camp battles.
Three Keys to the Game: 1. Memorial will have to get after it in the run game. The Spartans like to favor quickness over sheer size, but they will need to put on the hard hats to slow down the backfield combination of Dion Huff and James Pabst. Working against a completely-rebuilt offensive line may help, but the Cardinals still have plenty of size up front. 2. Middleton's secondary will need to slow down Spartans quarterback Michael Toman and the spread attack. Unlike last year, where the game got soggier as it got later into the evening (especially in the third quarter), it's expected to be a little drier this year. Not only that, but the game is being played on a fast surface on Middleton's home field. 3. Should the game come down to special teams, both Memorial and Middleton are set at punter, but kicker is another matter, as both the Cardinals and Spartans are working through a couple of options at the position.
6:45pm Friday - The Big 1070 (1070 AM and 100.9 FM) - iHeartRadio
Madison Memorial at Middleton: (Madison Taxi Game of the Week)
Sun Prairie at Madison East: Sun Prairie is on the road to start the year, widely regarded as the favorite in the conference. Meanwhile, East is working under a brand-new coach, Jeremy Thornton. East will need to find a way to keep the offense moving against a loaded Cardinals defense. Sun Prairie, meanwhile, will look to establish the ground game and let their highly-touted defense handle the rest.
Madison La Follette at Janesville Craig: This game will be all about establishing identities moving forward. For the Lancers, it'll be about finding a spot for all of their talented athletes to succeed, while for Craig, they will likely change little from last year, at least on offense, under first-year coach Adam Bunderson, who will look for a quarterback in the early going but will lean on a run game that could feature nearly a half-dozen backs this year. La Follette has Anthony West, who can line up anywhere on the field, but will need to find a way to get the ball in his hands. Last year, this was a 63-48 barnburner.
Beloit Memorial at Madison West: While losing a spectacular athlete like Terrell Carey may lead to some assumption that the Regents are due for a slide, the reality is that West brings back plenty from last year, including a first-team all-conference quarterback and a healthy portion of their rush yardage. Which players will step up to haul in some passes from Keishawn Shanklin? Meanwhile, Beloit Memorial appears to be on the rise at least from indications from the coaching staff and in camps. The Purple Knights are in the midst of a 30-game conference losing streak.
Janesville Parker at Verona: Only four starters return for the Vikings, but Verona will suffer plenty of turnover as well. The difference may be in who lines up to fill those places. Parker will have options but only bring back their quarterback and a trio of defenders from 2016, while Verona will have over three dozen seniors ready to call upon if needed. The Wildcats are picked to finish high in the Big 8 by virtue of their numbers and history under Dave Richardson, and also bring back their entire offensive line, which should allow them some time to work out any issues they may have in the backfield.
Badger Conferences (Crossover Games)
Edgewood at Mount Horeb/Barneveld: While Edgewood will be undermanned to start the year, the Vikings of MH/B feature ten returning all-conference players. After a quick playoff exit last year, the Vikings will be eager to get back to work. Meanwhile, Edgewood will visit hostile territory. While the lines appear to be the strength going in, the skill positions and back end of the defense will be a work in progress.
Watertown at Beaver Dam: It's almost like they didn't leave the Little Ten! Watertown's spread attack will get its first test against a legitimately good Golden Beavers defense that ranked in the upper half of their mutual old conference. The key for Beaver Dam will be scoring enough points to keep up if the Goslings start slinging it around video game-style.
Oregon at DeForest: A sneaky great game to open the season, as Oregon suffered through major injury after major injury last year and will bring back a boatload of experience this year. DeForest, meanwhile, will welcome a good opening test, and will have a chance to air it out a little perhaps against a relatively untested Panthers secondary.
Stoughton at Portage: If the Vikings are going to be in the running for a Badger South title, it stands that they should get out to a hot start at the hands of the Portage Warriors, who won only one game last year. However, Portage is under new direction, and while veteran coach Bob Hepp (probably) can't turn the Warriors into immediate juggernauts, he's experienced success, often with a short one- or two-year turnaround, wherever he has been. Expect a more disciplined Portage team. Stoughton will need to manage expectations as early as week one in 2017.
Milton at Sauk Prairie: Similar to last year's opener, Milton coach Matt Lee will see how much his team has improved in the offseason against the Eagles, who have to deal with the sudden resignation of their head coach, Scott Mirkes, earlier this week. Milton will be relying on a large senior class to fill in some big roles this year, and get back to the top of the conference in short order after a year out of the playoffs.
Fort Atkinson at Waunakee: Waunakee toasts a newly-renovated turf field and video scoreboard on Friday, and their opponent will be the Fort Atkinson Blackhawks. Everyone knows about the loaded Warriors squad, so the key for Fort Atkinson will be finding ways to slow down Waunakee on the edges, as that is where the Blackhawks are the most inexperienced defensively.
Monroe at Reedsburg: Another sneaky great game in week one, the Cheesemakers have to find out who will be toting the rock for their run-heavy offense now that their talented backfield (three running backs and their quarterback) has graduated. Meanwhile, Reedsburg will use their own bread-and-butter run game to get after a talented Monroe defense. If you're a fan of low-scoring, physical football, a ticket to Reedsburg might be a way to spend your Friday night.
Baraboo at Monona Grove: After coming up a little short of a playoff berth last year, the Thunderbirds look to their upperclassmen to bring them over the hurdle to return to the postseason. Meanwhile, the Monone Grove Silver Eagles will have new faces at almost every position, but they bring back two really good ones on offense at quarterback and running back. This game may have a bit of feeling out before getting going, but it should still be entertaining.
Capitol Conferences (Crossover/Non Conference)
Lake Mills at Marshall: An outstanding opener for both schools. Marshall is your quintessential small-school power, leaning heavily on option runs and outside contain defensively to bludgeon their opponents to submission. Lake Mills, meanwhile, is experiencing some of the best success the program has ever had, and boast one of the top quarterback-receiver duos in the entire state. An interesting game for sure.
Belleville 41, Elcho/White Lake 0: The Wildcats open the season with a victory, Next week, Belleville (1-0) hosts Boscobel in a celebration of the 45th anniversary of the State Line League Championship.
Adams/Friendship at Lakeside Lutheran: Adams/Friendship was undefeated in the regular season last year. Lakeside Lutheran, who coach Paul Bauer calls a "junior-dominated team," will need to find its footing in the opener.
Poynette at Palmyra/Eagle: It's hard to believe two seasons is tied for the second-longest playoff drought in school history, but that's where the Pumas are at. They'll open against Trailways member Palmyra/Eagle, and begin to work towards a return to the postseason.
Delavan-Darien at Lodi: A fantastic non-conference match-up, Lodi is a favorite in the Capitol North and will face a playoff-tested team in Delavan-Darien.
Luther Prep at University School: The Phoenix open up with three straight road games, including University School, which went 8-3 last year.
Columbus at Ripon: Last year, the Cardinals took apart Ripon 44-7 to kick off the season. This will be the first game for Cardinals coach Calvin Zenz.
Catholic Central at New Glarus/Monticello: NG/M's season got off to a hot start with a win over CC last year, establishing their talented lines in the opener. With plenty of experience back, the Knights will see what an offseason's worth of work yields on the field.
Brookfield Academy at Cambridge: Cambridge dropped this game 24-7 as Brookfield Academy moved on to the playoffs while the Blue Jays couldn't pick up a conference win. Cambridge brings back all but a handful of starters to this year's team, and will have the added benefit of hosting this rematch.
Deerfield at Waterloo: Looking to keep their playoff appearance success intact, the Pirates will also seek to add to Deerfield's 12-game losing streak.
Clinton at Evansville/Albany: Last year's conference co-champs go at it, and will feature a great quarterback battle between Clinton's Tyler Halsted and Evansville/Albany's Zach Mielke. While the Blue Devils got the advantage last year in this match-up, Clinton is coming off of a state semifinal appearance, and figures to be very much in the discussion this year in the Rock Valley since they bring back a solid group of players from that run. E/A, meanwhile, has to replace over a dozen all-conference seniors from last year. Either way, expect a good one at Ron Grovesteen Field.
Big Foot at Brodhead/Juda: Both teams will get an early chance to see who can improve upon a 5-4 finish last year, the Chiefs, behind the talents of Jackson Enz, or the Cardinals, who hope to slow him down with eight returning starters on defense, including the entire secondary. Brodhead/Juda has experience across the board, as both their incoming junior and senior classes saw plenty of varsity action last year.
East Troy at McFarland: McFarland is a young and growing team, with sophomores sprinkled into their various starting lineups. While they may be a year or two from being seasoned vets, East Troy brings in one of the most talented lines in a conference absolutely loaded with top-shelf linemen. The key will be McFarland holding up in what should be a physical game from East Troy, as the Trojans are a run-focused group. Their quarterback, now a junior, was the team's second-leading rusher a season ago.
Turner at Edgerton: If you ask the other coaches in the conference, they will bring up Turner as one of the most talented in all of the Rock Valley, despite a 3-6 season a year ago, partially due to injuries. They'll line up against one of the younger teams in the conference, the Crimson Tide, who will have some capable returners up the middle on defense.
Jefferson at Whitewater: While Jefferson is expected to be a conference contender, or even a favorite, Whitewater is widely projected to finish near the bottom of the Rock Valley. Still, the Whippets feature an outstanding talent in Jimmy DuVal, and also bring back Will Leibbrand, who made all-conference as a freshman last year. Jefferson's defense will try to stop Whitewater's best weapon (DuVal) and contain the pass game, but under an interim coach, it's not known what the Whippets will do out of the gate this season.
Parkview at Dodgeville (non-conference): Parkview's numbers are a little ways down, but this should nonetheless be an important opening test as the Vikings look to contend within the Trailways this year.
Wisconsin Heights at Oakfield (Great 8): Two of the top 8-player teams in the southern half of the state will open up with the first of two meetings. Oakfield participated in the Jamboree last year, while the Vanguards managed to go 7-2 in 2016.
Abundant Life/St. Ambrose at Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah (Great 8): Another home-and-home in the Great 8, the Challengers went undefeated last year, and look to keep the streak going against the Resorters.