2018 High School Football Preview: Rock Valley


Evansville/Albany's quest for a fourth straight conference title ended after an 0-3 start, opening the door for Clinton to go undefeated in Rock Valley play and win the conference crown outright with a 9-0 record, capped off by a trip to the state quarterfinals.

In the top half of the Rock Valley, several outstanding seniors graduate, leaving the conference wide-open heading into 2018. While the top two teams, Clinton and Jefferson, from a year ago will start fresh with up-and-coming players, they'll have to work against Beloit Turner and Evansville/Albany, schools that had winning records and lost a few players from 2017, but should contend again in 2018.

All of last year's top teams in the Rock Valley will have to contend with up-and-coming squads such as East Troy, boasting one of the state's best offensive lines, quarterbacks, and running games. After a 5-5 2017, the Trojans are poised for a big year. McFarland and Edgerton lost a handful of players to graduation, but the bulk of their starters return in what should be a good two- or three-year run for the schools. It would be foolish to count out longtime powers Brodhead/Juda and Big Foot, both suffering down years but both capable of regaining their form in a hurry. And, like McFarland and Edgerton, Whitewater will have plenty of young talent in the fold as they work under an interim coach again this year.

The WFCA's football-only conference realignment proposal has a huge impact on the Rock Valley. Four existing teams would join most of what is currently the Capitol North, creating a powerful medium-sized school conference. Two new teams would then enter from the Badger South: Monroe and Edgewood. Both programs are steeped in tradition. Below is our preview of the Rock Valley 2018 season. The Big 1070's Jimmie Kaska talked to the coaches and previewed the upcoming season:

Rock Valley Conference

2018 Full Schedule

Conference Champions: Clinton - 2017; Clinton and Evansville/Albany - 2016; Evansville/Albany (North) and Beloit Turner, Big Foot, Brodhead/Juda, and Clinton (South) - 2015; Evansville/Albany and Jefferson (North) and Big Foot and Brodhead/Juda (South) - 2014

State Participants: None

2017 Combined Playoff Record: 2-5 (Clinton 2-1)

2017 Combined Non-Conference Record: Closed Conference / No Non-Conference Games

BIG Games: Clinton at East Troy, August 17; McFarland at Edgerton, August 17; Beloit Turner at Evansville/Albany, September 7; Clinton at Jefferson, September 21; East Troy at Jefferson, October 5

WSN Top Seniors: DL Evan Blumer, Evansville/Albany; QB Jake Dessart, East Troy; DL Adrian Estrada, Beloit Turner; RB Kyle Hanaman, Beloit Turner; RB Nolan Klawitter, Jefferson; DL Jordan Leitz, Edgerton; QB Derek Schwarting, McFarland; RB Mason Simmons, Edgerton; DB Tysen White, McFarland

2018 Rock Valley Preseason All-Conference Team

QB: Jake Dessart [🏈WSN] (SR), East Troy (1); Jaden Johnson (SR), Edgerton (H*); Derek Schwarting [🏈WSN] (SR), McFarland (-)

RB/FB: Kyle Hanaman [🏈WSN] (SR), Beloit Turner (1); Nolan Klawitter [🏈WSN] (SR), Jefferson (1); Mason Simmons [🏈WSN] (SR), Edgerton (1); Jeffrey Williams (SR), Brodhead/Juda (2*); Dylan Jakscht (SR), East Troy (2); Jackson Nelson (SR), Clinton (H)

WR: Jacob Price (SR), East Troy (2); Aiden Greco (SR), Big Foot (H); Eli Newhouse (SR), East Troy (H)

TE: Sullivan Geske (JR), Evansville/Albany (2)

OL: John Marschke (SR), East Troy (2*); Sam Duggan (SR), Clinton (2); Jordan Leitz (SR), Edgerton (2); Mitch Roeder (SR), McFarland (2); Reed Farrington (JR), Edgerton (H)

DL: Evan Blumer [🏈WSN] (SR), Evansville/Albany (1); Adrian Estrada [🏈WSN] (SR), Beloit Turner (1); Jordan Leitz [🏈WSN] (SR), Edgerton (1); Connor Frasier (JR), McFarland (2); Jack Hereley (SR), Big Foot (2); Branden Lange (SR), Evansville/Albany (2); John Skinner (JR), East Troy (H)

LB: Malcolm Johnson (SR), Evansville/Albany (1); Emiliano Reyes (SR), Beloit Turner (1); Zack Burke (JR), East Troy (2); Nathan Hebbe (SR), Jefferson (H); Jackson Nelson (SR), Clinton (H); Nick Noonan (SR), Brodhead/Juda (H); Cooper Pease (JR), Whitewater (H); Reece Samuel (SR), McFarland (H); Mason Simmons (SR), Edgerton (H)

DB: Tysen White [🏈WSN] (SR), McFarland (H*); Will Leibbrand (JR), Whitewater (H*); Mickey Burrows (JR), Beloit Turner (H); Nick Schwall (SR), East Troy (H)

K: Emiliano Reyes (SR), Beloit Turner (2)

P: None

ATH: Skyler Gullickson (JR), Edgerton (H)

All Selections Are Returning 2017 All-Conference Picks - 1=1st Team, 2=2nd Team, H=Honorable Mention; *indicates multiple-time selection at the position

2018 High School Football Preview: Beloit Turner - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Beloit Turner

Turner Trojans (Beloit) - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Derek Diehl (4th Season) 17-12 (7th Overall, 27-30) (0-3 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 7-2 (7-3), 3rd in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 4 playoffs to Platteville, 54-42)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 8 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (12 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (4): RB/LB Kyle Hanaman [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-RB), Sr.; G/DT Adrian Estrada [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-DL), Sr.; QB/RB/LB/K/P Emiliano (Nano) Reyes (1st Team-LB; 2nd Team-K in 2016), Sr.; RB/S Mickey Burrows (HM-DB), Jr.

BIG Games: at Evansville/Albany, September 7; vs Clinton, October 5; at East Troy, October 12

2018 High School Football Preview: Big Foot - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Big Foot

Big Foot Chiefs - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Greg Enz (5th Season), 21-19; (18th Overall, 95-81) (4-11 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 3-6 (3-6), 6th in the Rock Valley

2017 All-Conference Honors: 3 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (8 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): DE/RB/P Jack Hereley (2nd Team-DE), Sr.; WR/DB/ST Aiden Greco (HM-WR), Sr.

BIG Games: at Jefferson, August 17; at East Troy, August 31; at Clinton, September 14; vs Evansville/Albany, September 28 (Homecoming)

2018 High School Football Preview: Brodhead/Juda - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Brodhead/Juda

Brodhead/Juda Cardinals - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Jim Matthys (11th Season) 76-38* (also coached 2004-11) - 18-9 Playoffs

*Matthys is 79-38 in his coaching career based on the season-ending record of each year that he coached, but have chosen to use here the information provided to us by Coach Matthys.

2017 Result: 2-7 (2-7), 7th in the Rock Valley

2017 All-Conference Honors: 1 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (6 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): RB/LB/ST Jeffrey Williams (2nd Team-RB; HM-FB in 2016), Sr.; G/LB Nick Noonan (HM-LB), Sr.

BIG Games: vs Evansville/Albany, August 17; vs Clinton, August 24; vs East Troy, September 21

2018 High School Football Preview: Clinton - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Clinton

Clinton Cougars - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Jake Standiford (1st Season), 0-0

2017 Result: 11-1 (9-0), 🏆1st in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 3 of the Division 5 playoffs to Lake Country Lutheran, 17-14)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 12 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (17 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): OL/DL Sam Duggan (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; RB/LB/ST Jackson Nelson (HM-RB and LB), Sr.

BIG Games: vs East Troy, August 17; at Jefferson, September 21; at Beloit Turner, October 5

2018 High School Football Preview: East Troy - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: East Troy

East Troy Trojans - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Jeff Crandall (3rd Season), 10-10 Overall (0-2 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 5-5 (5-4), 5th in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 3 playoffs to Catholic Memorial 42-20)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 2 First-Team, 6 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (11 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (8): QB/P/DB Jake Dessart [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-QB), Sr.; OL John Marschke (2nd Team-OL in 2017 and 2016), Sr. RB Dylan Jakscht (2nd Team-RB), Sr.; WR Jacob Price (2nd Team-WR), Sr.; WR Eli Newhouse (HM-WR), Sr.; DB Nick Schwall (HM-DB), Sr.; DB Zack Burke (2nd Team-LB), Jr.; DL John Skinner (HM-DL), Jr.

BIG Games: at Clinton, August 17; vs Edgerton, September 28 (Homecoming); at Jefferson, October 5

2018 High School Football Preview: Edgerton - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Edgerton

Edgerton Crimson Tide - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Mike Gregory (20th Season), 74-89 Overall (1-9 Playoffs) - WBCA (Baseball) Hall of Fame 2017

2017 Result: 2-7 (2-7), 8th in the Rock Valley

2017 All-Conference Honors: 2 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (6 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (5): RB/LB/P Mason Simmons [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-RB; HM-LB in 2016), Sr.; G/DE Jordan Leitz [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-DE and 2nd Team-OL), Sr.; QB/DB Jaden Johnson (HM-QB 2017 and 2016), Sr.; WR/QB/DB/ST/K Skyler Gullickson (HM-ATH), Jr.; T/DT Reed Farrington (HM-OL), Jr.

BIG Games: vs McFarland, August 17; at Evansville/Albany, August 24; vs Turner, September 21 (Homecoming); at East Troy, September 28

2018 High School Football Preview: Evansville/Albany - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Evansville/Albany

Evansville/Albany Blue Devils - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Ron Grovesteen (36th Season) 274-110 Overall (20-23 Playoffs) - WFCA Hall of Fame, 2001

2017 Result: 6-4 (6-3), 4th in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 3 playoffs to Mount Horeb/Barneveld, 56-7)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 5 First-Team, 7 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (15 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (4): DE Evan Blumer [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-DL), Sr.; LB Malcolm Johnson (1st Team-LB), Sr.; DT Branden Lange (2nd Team-DL), Sr.; WR/TE Sullivan Geske (2nd Team-WR), Jr.

BIG Games: vs Beloit Turner, September 7; at East Troy, September 14; vs McFarland, October 5 (Senior Night)

2018 High School Football Preview: Jefferson - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Jefferson

Jefferson Eagles - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Steve Gee (13th Season), 82-41; 16th Overall, 99-54 (6-14 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 8-2 (8-1), 2nd in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 3 playoffs to Pewaukee, 41-21)

2017 All-Conference Honors: 6 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (13 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): RB/LB Nolan Klawitter [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-RB), Sr.; LB/RB Nathan Hebbe (HM-LB), Sr.

BIG Games: vs McFarland (at UW-Whitewater), August 24; vs Clinton, September 21 (Homecoming); vs East Troy, October 5

2018 High School Football Preview: McFarland - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: McFarland

McFarland Spartans - Rock Valley

Head Coach: Paul Ackley (14th season); 61-66 Overall (4-6 Playoffs)

2017 Result: 2-7, 7th in the Rock Valley

2017 All-Conference Honors: 1 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (7 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (4): OL/DL Mitch Roeder (2nd Team-OL), Sr.; OL/DL Connor Frasier (2nd Team-DL), Jr.; RB/DB/ST Tysen White (HM-DB 2017 and 2016), Sr.; WR/LB Reece Samuel (HM-LB), Sr.

BIG Games: at Edgerton, August 17; vs East Troy, September 7; vs Big Foot, September 21; at Evansville, October 5

2018 High School Football Preview: Whitewater - Thumbnail Image

2018 High School Football Preview: Whitewater

Whitewater Whippets - Rock Valley

Interim Head Coach: Jim Pease (2nd Season), 1-8 Overall

2017 Result: 1-8, 10th in the Rock Valley

2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (5 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (2): CB/RB Will Leibbrand (HM-DB in 2017 and 2016), Jr.; LB/QB/TE Cooper Pease (HM-LB), Jr.

BIG Games: vs East Troy, August 24; vs McFarland (at UW-Whitewater), September 13; vs Jefferson, October 12

2018 HSFB Preview: Rock Valley 2017 In Review - Thumbnail Image

2018 HSFB Preview: Rock Valley 2017 In Review