⭐ Big Five Games - Level 1, 2017 ⭐
1. Oregon (6-3) at Stoughton (8-1) - Division 2, Group C
2. Cambridge (6-2) at New Glarus/Monticello (5-3) - Capitol South
3. Oregon (6-3) at Monroe (4-4) - Badger South
4. Beloit Memorial (2-6) at Madison Memorial (3-5) - Big 8
5. Evansville/Albany (5-3) at Big Foot (3-5) - Rock Valley
Honorable Mention: Madison La Follette (4-4) at Sun Prairie (8-0), Beaver Dam (4-4) at Waunakee (8-0), Watertown (4-4) at Monona Grove (8-0)
Division 1 - Group C
#8 Madison Memorial (4-5) at #1 Sun Prairie (9-0): Sun Prairie dominated this match-up in Week 6, 50-0. The Cardinals led 43-0 at the break, and while they didn't rack up huge yardage totals, their defense played impressively in the victory. Sun Prairie's defense has been demolishing opponents, and the Cardinals enter the playoffs as one of the top contenders to Kimberly's crown atop Division 1. However, the Cardinals lost the 1-8 match-up last year in the playoffs, to La Follette, 40-13. If Madison Memorial is going to pull off what would be an even more surprising upset this year, they'll have to find a way to get the offense moving against the league's top defense. The Spartans appear to have found some identity as the season progressed, and the building blocks are in place for a bright future, with a strong sophomore class and some stars in the junior class--who next year will be seniors. Sun Prairie's defense, for a time, had more takeaways than points allowed. They've only given up two second-half scores all year. Memorial sophomore QB/DE Jason Ceniti has only started 7 games, but has accounted for 12 touchdowns (7 passing, 5 rushing).
#7 Madison La Follette (4-5) at #7 Middleton (8-1): Middleton pulled away after La Follette suffered a second season-ending-type injury at quarterback in the game, and had to turn to top receiver Anthony West for some time in a 24-6 Week 7 loss at Middleton. Now that the Lancers have had some time to work with now their third- and fourth-string quarterbacks in recent weeks, including a Week 9 loss to conference champion Sun Prairie, it will be interesting to see how they get things going against Middleton. La Follette got a big play to go for six in their game last week against Sun Prairie, but struggled outside of that one play. Middleton, meanwhile, is on a seven-game winning streak, and health is for the most part no longer the issue it was in training camp. The Cardinals have tossed three shutouts and given up only 30 points in their winning streak. Middleton gave up 34 points in their Week 2 loss to Sun Prairie, and 37 points in their other eight games, all victories, combined. La Follette starts only three seniors on offense and three on defense. La Follette will be a team to watch next year.
#6 Sussex Hamilton (6-3) at #3 Madison West (7-2): It's a surprising note, but the Regents are rolling with only 26 players on varsity right now. What's even more impressive is that the team is scoring over a third of their points in the fourth quarter (70 of their 187), and topping opponents 119-67 in the second half. You would think that West would wear out in the second half, but they appear on paper to get better as the game moves along. If there's a key quarter to get points against Sussex Hamilton, it's the second quarter, where Hamilton has given up nearly half (73) of the 148 points scored against them this year. Hamilton and West are both about 75% run teams, so expect a fast-moving game.
#5 Kettle Moraine (6-3) at #4 Verona (6-3): Verona has found balance on offense this year, running and passing nearly 50-50. Coach Dave Richardson has said they're likely a pass-first team this year, which is a departure from prior seasons. Verona has the advantage of hot starts this year, out-scoring opponents 65 to 7 in the first quarter. However, the Wildcats are being out-scored in the fourth quarter 50-38, giving up 40% of their points allowed in the final frame. Kettle Moraine comes in with three losses, like Verona, but Kettle Moraine was only out-scored by 10 points in those three losses, all to quality opponents. And, Kettle Moraine closes out games too, out-scoring their opposition 61-14 in the fourth quarter. Kettle Moraine is averaging over 10 points per game more scoring than the Wildcats as well. While 4/5 games tend to be coin flips as it is, this one has plenty of intrigue.
Division 2 - Group B
#8 Beaver Dam (4-5) at #1 Waunakee (9-0): It's a Week 9 rematch of Waunakee's 45-0 shutout victory one week ago. The Warriors are averaging over 50 points per game, out-scoring opponents over 10:1, and haven't yet given up a first quarter score. Waunakee has put up 212 points in the second quarter alone. Beaver Dam, meanwhile, has only scored 150 points on the entire season. Kendric Jimenez has thrown seven touchdowns and run for another score, one of the highlights of a program on the rise after moving out of the now-defunct Little Ten. Speaking of the Little Ten, five of the conference's former teams are in Group B.
#7 Watertown (4-5) at #2 Menasha (8-1): Menasha has lost once this year, 21-20 to New London. Their stifling defense has tossed three shutouts, and has given up more than one score only three times this season. Watertown boasts a prolific passing attack, but if they can't find points in this one, it will be a long day for the Goslings.
#6 West Bend East (4-5) at #3 Hartford Union (7-2): Hartford wrapped up the regular season with a big win over Whitefish Bay, one of the top D3 contenders in the state. This game is a North Shore conference rematch from Week 3, when Hartford held off a late rally by West Bend East to secure a big early-season victory, 26-21.
#5 DeForest (6-3) at #4 Slinger (6-3): DeForest is averaging 30 points per game, out-scoring opponents in the second half by 95 points on the season. Slinger is in the same category, with a 110-point advantage over their opposition this season. DeForest is known for their run-first attack, about 70 to 75% of the time, but Slinger has run on 333 of their 420 plays as well. Not only that, Slinger has faced about 70% runs defensively this season, so this game will be more of the same for them. The second quarter is the key for each team, as both teams have put up over 100 points in that frame total this season. The Norskies will be looking into a mirror this week.
Division 2 - Group C
#8 Wilmot Union (4-5) at #1 Monona Grove (9-0): The Silver Eagles are scoring exactly 50 points per game, with over 2,000 passing and rushing yards on the season. Believe it or not, this is a run-first team, that has the ability to hit for big plays deep. They've also scored 29 touchdowns through the air, and 31 on the ground. Quarterback Alec Ogden is also on the short list for state player of the year. The Silver Eagles open up the playoffs against the fourth-place Wilmot Union Panthers of the Southern Lakes conference, Wilmot has scored 147 of its 243 points in the first half this year, and is roughly a 3:1 run:pass squad. While the passing game has had some turnovers, the Panthers still average over 8 yards per attempt. Wilmot's losses have all been close, including one-score losses to Kenosha Bradford and Franklin to start the year, and no more than an 11-point difference in their three losses in conference play. Wilmot has scored 173 points in their four wins, but only 70 points in their five losses.
#7 Germantown (4-5) at #2 Waukesha West (9-0): While Waukesha West is seething about being seeded second, the truth is that many feel the Wolverines are the team to beat, perhaps in the state. Their path to Madison will include a potential rematch with Monona Grove in Level 3, a chance for Waukesha West to avenge a controversial one-point overtime loss from a season ago on their home field, and a game against one of the Brookfield schools or Homestead in Level 4. However, it will start with a historically-good Germantown program in Level 1, which won't be a cakewalk in its own right.
#6 Oregon (6-3) at #3 Stoughton (8-1): Our Madison Taxi Game of the Week. You can listen to their first meeting below. Oregon nearly pulled off the upset in the Battle for 138, missing a late long field goal and having a go-ahead touchdown pass knocked away at the last possible second. Now, Stoughton seeks its first playoff victory ever, and it would have to come against the rival Panthers. Oregon will still be without Brett Wannebo, but has some capable playmakers in the fold, including Kardelle Phillips, who is outstanding as a receiver or runner. Stoughton boasts the talents of Brady Schipper, who carries the offensive load for the team. Defensively, Stoughton has given up 93 points in 8 games to teams not named Monona Grove, and 27 of them came in Week 6 against Oregon. The Vikings defense will have to be the difference against Oregon. Oregon came out throwing against Stoughton in their game back in Week 6, although on the season the Panthers are 3:1 run:pass. Oregon has had great success passing this year, averaging over 10 yards per attempt and sporting a 13:4 TD:INT ratio. Expect another wild, back-and-forth game at Collins Field this Friday!
#5 Burlington (6-3) at #4 Waterford (7-2): This game is a Southern Lakes rematch of a Week 5 game at Burlington that Waterford won 31-14. Waterford piled up over 400 yards of offense in the win.
Area schools in other divisions:
Division 3 - Group C
#8 Monroe (4-5) at #1 New Berlin Eisenhower (9-0): Monroe reached Level 3 last year, while New Berlin Eisenhower exited in Level 1. The records have (mostly) flipped for this season, but will the playoff finish?
#7 East Troy (5-4) at #2 Catholic Memorial (7-2): East Troy begins its playoff journey against the defending D3 state champions.
#6 Evansville/Albany (6-3) at #3 Mount Horeb/Barneveld (8-1): Both teams carry six-game winning streaks into this game.
#5 Jefferson (8-1) at #4 Pewaukee (7-2): Pewaukee reached Level 4 for the first time in school history last year.
Division 4 - Group C
#8 Mayville (5-4) at #1 Lodi (9-0): Mayville is one of the smallest schools in the D4 field. Lodi lost in Level 2 last year after making it to state the year prior.
#7 River Valley (5-4) at #2 Racine St. Catherine's (9-0): There are only three undefeated teams in D4, and two of them are in the same group. River Valley made it all the way to state last year.
#6 Lakeside Lutheran (6-3) at #3 Lake Mills (8-1): The L-Cats won 35-7 back in Week 6, but the cross-street rivals will play with a little more on the line in this contest. Lakeside Lutheran already has effectively played a playoff game, with a win-or-go-home date with Luther Prep last week.
#5 Turner (7-2) at #4 Platteville (8-1): Platteville made it to Level 2 last year, while Turner makes a rare appearance in the playoff field. In an absolutely loaded group, the winner gets the pleasure of (likely) facing Lodi.
Division 5 - Group C
#8 Brookfield Academy (4-5) at #1 Clinton (9-0): Clinton is the only Rock Valley school to get a home playoff game in this year's playoffs. After making it to Level 4 last year, the Cougars look to take their state-leading ground attack to Camp Randall this season.
#5 New Glarus/Monticello (6-3) at #4 Prairie du Chien (7-2): An interesting opening-round game, the Glarner Knights had a bit of an up-and-down season but rallied to share the conference title. They're the highest-seeded Capitol South team.
Division 6 - Group D
#7 Belleville (6-3) at #2 Racine Lutheran (8-1): Belleville enters as the largest school in D6, and behind a massive line, will try to pull off an upset or two along the way. Their opening contest is a tough won, as Racine Lutheran finished second in the Metro Classic behind D4 #1 seed Racine St. Catherine's.
#6 Cambridge (6-3) at #3 Manitowoc Lutheran (7-2): Cambridge ended up sharing the Capitol South title, but played a solid schedule this year. Their Level 1 opponent finished third in the Big East, behind the 2016 D5 runner-up Cedar Grove-Belgium. Cambridge boasts some excellent two-way talent and has played in enough close games to be tested and ready for the playoffs.