For the 26th time, Monona Grove claimed a conference title, surviving a challenge from Stoughton in a battle of undefeated teams in Week 8 of the 2017 season to win the Badger South.
Monona Grove entered the season as not only a conference title contender, but a strong bet to make it all the way to Camp Randall again for the second straight year after their incredible run in 2016. The Silver Eagles toyed with defenses all throughout the regular season, demolishing opponents with scores approaching 50 by halftime. Monona Grove hung 63 on the second-place team in the Badger South in their Week 8 meeting to decide the conference. However, a Level 3 rematch with Waukesha West, who they walked off in overtime in 2016 on a controversial two-point conversion run in Level 3, proved to be all Wolverines as the Silver Eagles exited the playoffs with a 28-7 loss. The Silver Eagles will lose some outstanding seniors, but have four first-team all-conference players back from their 10-1 2017 campaign.
It might sound crazy, but Stoughton had never hosted a football playoff game prior to 2017. The Vikings used a strong defense, bruising line, and the other-worldly talents of Brady Schipper to go 8-1 during the regular season. Stoughton won their playoff opener, a rematch with their rivals, Oregon, handily 28-7. However, Waukesha West ended Stoughton's playoff run in Level 2 with a crushing 35-0 score.
After 2016 was mostly lost due to injuries, Oregon was prepared for a bounce-back year in 2017. The Panthers had, because of injuries, worked in plenty of younger players already, and the lessons learned in 2016 paid off in 2017, as Oregon went 6-3 during the regular season, with losses to Monona Grove and (narrowly) Stoughton in Badger South play. The Panthers will bring back a good chunk of their starting lineup for 2018, and will be one of the teams to watch in the area this upcoming season.
Monroe was a surprise outright winner of the Badger South in 2016, taking their run all the way to Level 3 behind a monster backfield of 1,000-yard rushers. It took a little time, but the Cheesemakers found themselves in some close games once the season hit the homestretch, and Monroe ended up making the playoffs for the second straight season. They would lose to eventual D3 runner-up New Berlin Eisehhower in the first round of the playoffs.
In their debut season in the Badger Conference, Watertown was humbled early, losing 63-0 in Week 2 to eventual Division 2 champion Waunakee. The Goslings' exciting style of play and a number of close games made them one of the conference's most fun teams to watch. Watertown made yet another trip to the playoffs, but couldn't get out of the first round, losing to Menasha 49-21. While they will have to replace the outstanding combo of Dylan Fagerland and Ryan Hayden for 2018, players at both quarterback and receiver received all-conference honors this season that are returning to the fold for the upcoming campaign.
Fort Atkinson will be under the direction of former UW-Whitewater standout and Sun Prairie defensive backs coach Brady Grayvold for 2018. In 2017, their final season under longtime coach Steve Mahoney, who is now the school's athletic director, Fort had some close games but fell a little short of their playoff goal.
Milton likewise had a few games that could have gone either way, but finished at 3-6 overall, missing the playoffs. Edgewood sent Hall of Fame coach Al Minnaert out with a win in their final game of 2017, their lone win of the campaign, over Milton. The Crusaders will be under the direction of Jesse Norris, an Ohio native who coached in Florida last season, in 2018.
2017 Conference Standings: Monona Grove won their 26th conference title, going 7-0 in Badger South play. Stoughton finished second, with their one loss to the Silver Eagles in the right column, 6-1 on the season. Oregon was the third-place finisher, bouncing back from an injury-plagued 2016 with a 5-2 conference record. Monroe and Watertown tied for fourth at 3-4, but both teams made the playoffs. Fort Atkinson barely missed a postseason berth at 2-5, and Edgewood and Milton rounded up the standings at 1-6 last year.
2017's Top Games: Hall of Fame coach Al Minnaert won his final game as head coach of the Edgewood Crusaders, as Edgewood held off Milton in the fourth quarter to win 23-20 for their only win of 2017... Tyler Moulton's fourth-quarter touchdown gave Fort Atkinson the edge in a 30-23 victory over Milton in Week 8... A missed extra point was the difference in Monroe's 28-27 overtime victory over Fort Atkinson in Week 7. After Fort Atkinson scored on their possession in overtime, the extra point missed. Monroe scored on a 25-yard touchdown run by Dempzy Foley, who then booted through the walk-off extra point... Stoughton's thrilling 30-27 victory over Oregon in Week 6 in the Battle for Highway 138 was one of the top games of the entire area last year, featuring four touchdowns from Brady Schipper and a last-gasp pass that missed by inches that would have given Oregon a late lead on the Vikings. Instead, the Vikings took over and ran out the clock, keeping them undefeated all the way until their conference title showdown with Monona Grove in Week 8... Also in Week 6, Milton went up by seven to start the fourth quarter, but Watertown's spread attack found a groove as Dylan Fagerland tossed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to Kory Stas to rally and win 27-20... The week prior, Watertown needed a field goal with six seconds remaining to defeat Edgewood 31-29. Edgewood scored a touchdown in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, then took a 29-28 lead on a field goal with 5:38 remaining before succumbing to the Goslings... Watertown's streak of close games started off with a loss, however, in Week 4, as Monroe and Watertown traded second-half scores until the final minute, when Monroe's Foley scored and a two-point conversion run succeeded to help the Cheesemakers win 29-28.
All-Conference Honors: Monona Grove dominated the all-conference teams, with eight first-team offensive players and five first-team defensive players, led by quarterback Alec Ogden (offensive player of the year), center Marcus Wallace (co-lineman of the year), and junior linebacker Trenton Herber (co-defensive player of the year). Stoughton had six first-team all-conference players, including co-offensive lineman of the year Jack Nelson and defensive lineman of the year Tommy McClain. Oregon notched four on the all-conference first team, including co-defensive player of the year, Sam Reynolds. The rest of the conference combined for six first-team all-conference players. Some of the underclassmen earning all-conference nods include Monona Grove offensive linemen Michael Williams-Davis and Nathan Wilcox, and Stoughton tackle Jack Nelson. In addition to Monona Grove's Trenton Herber on defense, other underclassmen on the first team include his Silver Eagles teammate, defensive back Jalen Ostrowski, and Oregon linebacker John Klus. Only six players on the Badger South second team all-conference list were non-seniors last year. All told, Monona Grove leads all teams with eight returning players that received all-conference recognition in 2017. Watertown and Oregon will bring back five such players apiece, while Monroe and Stoughton will have four returning. Edgewood, Fort Atkinson, and Milton have only one player apiece returning with all-conference mentions.
All-Region Honors: Three Monona Grove seniors made the all-Southwest Region in 2017: quarterback Alec Ogden, H-back Lucas Gerlach, and offensive lineman Marcus Wallace. Stoughton also got three on the all-region list, led by senior running back Brady Schipper, who ran for 1,975 yards. Senior defensive lineman Tommy McClain also made all-region and so did sophomore tackle Jack Nelson, who has already committed to Wisconsin. Senior Watertown receiver Ryan Hayden also made all-region after a stellar career for the Goslings.
All-State Honors: Alec Ogden's dynamic dual-threat abilities at quarterback placed him on the WFCA's All-State team again in 2017 for Monona Grove. Ogden threw for 2,682 yards and ran for 707 more in his senior season.
A Quick Look Ahead: We'll have a full preview of each team, and the conference, coming up as we get closer to the start of the season on August 17. In the Badger crossover games the first two weeks, one very intriguing game out of the gates for potential upstart conference title contenders has DeForest visiting Oregon in Week 1. Mount Horeb/Barneveld at Edgewood will match up first-year head coaches with their respective programs, in a game to be played at Breese Stevens Field. Week 2's Oregon at Mount Horeb/Barneveld game is another contest of potential conference title challengers, while Monroe at DeForest is another game in the same vein that week. Look for individual team previews to roll out in July, with full conference previews to come in August.
2018 High School Football Preview Schedule
Late June/Early July: 2017 In Review (by conference)
Mid-July: Team-by-team previews
Early August: Conference previews
Coming Next: July 10: Badger North 2017 In Review
Daily High School Sports Content Schedule
June 28: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #5: Waunakee 14, Brookfield Central 13
June 29: Capitol South 2017 In Review
July 2: Capitol North 2017 In Review
July 3: Rock Valley 2017 In Review
July 4: Football Friday Night Returns for 10th Season
July 5: Where Are They Now: Class of 2014
July 5: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #4: Stoughton 30, Oregon 27
July 6: Greater Madison Area 2017 In Review (everything outside of Big 8, Badger, Capitol, Rock Valley)
July 9: Badger South 2017 In Review
July 10: Badger North 2017 In Review
July 11: Big Eight 2017 In Review
July 12: Where Are They Now: Class of 2015
July 12: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #3: Cambridge 25, Belleville 19
July 13: 2017 High School Football In Review
July 16: Start of Team-by-Team Previews (multiple per day)
July 19: Where Are They Now: Class of 2016
Julu 19: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #2: Madison West 30, Middleton 27
July 26: Where Are They Now: Class of 2017
July 26: Throwback Thursday - Top 2017 Games #1: Lodi 17, St. Croix Central 10
August 2: Where Are They Now: Class of 2018
August 6: Start of Conference Previews (one per day)
August 9: Where Are They Now: Classes 2013 and Earlier
August 13: Prep Report and Game of the Week content begins