Janesville Craig and Madison Memorial lead the Big 8, while Waunakee got a blowout win to assert themselves as the team to beat in the Badger North and Monona Grove held off Oregon to take early control of the Badger South. Plus, McFarland got a big win in the Rock Valley.
Other big winners include Lodi, Cambridge, and Belleville in the Capitol.
It sets up an interesting Week 4 as there are a number of area match-ups of importance as the season approaches the halfway point.
Janesville Craig (3-0) 26, Verona (2-1) 20: Janesville Craig is off to their first 3-0 start in four years, as the Cougars put themselves squarely in the Big 8 championship hunt as the conference really opens up one-third of the way into the season. The Cougars are also only one win away from a likely playoff berth, since 4-5 gets you in more often than not. Verona had to contend with probably the best line they've faced so far, and after back-to-back monster games (and two trips to Janesville) the Wildcats are pretty well tested.
Middleton (2-1) 40, Madison West (1-2) 0: Well, if revenge was on the minds of the Cardinals, it certainly played out as the Cardinals dominated the Regents to get back into the Big 8 title chase. Both teams graduated a ton of their contributors from a season ago, but West doesn't have the numbers in their program like Middleton does. West also had to work on a short week after playing last Saturday against East. Either way, Middleton put themselves right back into the fray with a big win.
#10 Madison Memorial (3-0) 41, Madison East (0-3) 0: The Madison Bowl went to the Memorial Spartans, putting them in a two-way tie for the conference lead with Janesville Craig. What a start it's been for Michael Harris, the JMM alum who is now one win away from both a likely playoff berth and a match of last year's Spartans win total. For East, there's still a gap between them and the top teams in the conference, but the schedule still has a few more competitive games in store to try and get coach Jeremy Thornton his first win as Purgolders coach.
Sun Prairie (2-1) 49, Janesville Parker (0-3) 7: Parker has had to face three teams with a combined record of 7-2 in the Big 8 so far, so the schedule hasn't done them any favors as they try to replace pretty much everyone. Sun Prairie continues to work back from an opening-week loss to Madison Memorial to stay within a game of the Big 8 leaders (along with Craig) a third of the way into the season.
Madison La Follette (2-1) 42, Beloit Memorial (0-3): La Follette also stayed with the Big 8 leaders, scooping up another win and pulling away with a 21-point second half to break a halftime tie with the Purple Knights. The Lancers piled up over 400 yards of offense in the victory. For Beloit Memorial, a season that began with playoff dreams suddenly is on the brink, since they'll need to likely win four times in six weeks in order to snap one of the state's longest playoff droughts.
3-0 Janesville Craig
3-0 Madison Memorial
2-1 Madison La Follette
2-1 Sun Prairie
1-2 Madison West
0-3 Beloit Memorial
0-3 Janesville Parker
0-3 Madison East
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 4 Games:
Sun Prairie (2-1) at Janesville Craig (3-0): In the wide-open Big 8, games like this will help define the eventual champion, and for Sun Prairie, it's the first chance to jump back into a position to be the serious challenger for the Big 8 lead. Janesville Craig will have plenty to say about that now that they've established themselves after beating Verona last week, and it should be one of the best games of the entire season when these teams, stocked with big-time linemen, go head-to-head.
Madison Memorial (3-0) at Middleton (2-1): Just as important as Sun Prairie and Janesville Craig meeting up is this rivalry of teams located a couple of miles down Gammon Road from each other, Middleton's loss to Verona was a tough pill to swallow, but it doesn't preclude the Cardinals from getting back into the Big 8 race. Madison Memorial will face one of the most serious challenges to their Big 8 lead as the season heads to the midway point, and how these mirror-image offenses can work against the speedy linebackers and defensive backs of their opponent will be fun to watch.
Verona (2-1) at Madison West (1-2): Verona's return to the top of the Big 8 was put on hold after losing to Janesville Craig, but they can't afford a slip-up against last year's Big 8 third-place team. Both teams have had to rely on a strong sophomore class to fill some big roles on varsity, and those players have had to grow up fast in the first third of the season.
Janesville Parker (0-3) at Madison La Follette (2-1): It always seems like the Lancers loom quietly in the Big 8 standings, and if they can use their experience advantage to edge the Parker Vikings, La Follette should be able to stay within a game at least of the Big 8 leader(s). For Parker, there's no let-up in quality opponents, since La Follette is one of the teams bringing back the most experience from a season ago.
Madison East (0-3) at Beloit Memorial (0-3): One of these teams will finally get the season moving in the right direction. Will East get their first win under Jeremy Thornton, or will Beloit Memorial finally start moving towards an improvement upon 2017? The losing team will have to win out to clinch a playoff spot, but realistically have to win four of five to get in to the postseason.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 5, but Madison Memorial and Janesville Craig likely wrap up playoff bids by getting to four wins this week with a victory.
Waunakee (3-0, 1-0) 46, Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2-1, 0-1) 0: The 43-0 halftime score got people talking, but since MH/B was without their top running back, Malik Winston, it seems as though the Vikings didn't have any other way of competing offensively in this one. Waunakee is on an absolute tear, having put up 149 points in three games while giving up just seven points so far. The Warriors had two return scores in the opening six minutes. Mount Horeb/Barneveld mustered just 123 yards of offense.
DeForest (2-1, 1-0) 40, Reedsburg (2-1, 0-1) 0: Another surprising Badger North result as DeForest blanked one of the conference's premier programs. The Norskies will get Waunakee next week but in the meantime have won twice now since dropping their opening number to Oregon. For the Beavers, after sweeping the crossover games, it's a setback, but there's still plenty of opportunity towards a playoff berth (or conference crown, since they still play Waunakee yet).
Baraboo (1-2, 1-0) 37, Beaver Dam (1-2, 0-1) 21: Both teams have thoughts on making the playoffs, so this was a big one towards that goal. Baraboo had a very challenging non-conference slate, battling Monona Grove and Stoughton, and had Stoughton on the ropes before faltering late. Not the case this week as the Thunderbirds got a step closer to a playoff spot. Beaver Dam will now have to win four of six to clinch a playoff spot in the Badger North.
Sauk Prairie (1-2, 1-0) 50, Portage (0-3, 0-1) 36: Garrett Hertzfeldt racked up 272 yards and six touchdowns to help Sauk Prairie come back to defeat Portage for their first win of the season. Portage had a difficult non-conference schedule in the Badger crossovers, so they fall to 0-3 after a promising 2017.
Baraboo 1-0 (1-2)
DeForest 1-0 (2-1)
Sauk Prairie 1-0 (1-2)
Waunakee 1-0 (3-0)
Beaver Dam 0-1 (1-2)
Mount Horeb/Barneveld 0-1 (2-1)
Portage 0-1 (0-3)
Reedsburg 0-1 (2-1)
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 4 Games:
DeForest (2-1, 1-0) at Waunakee (3-0, 1-0): DeForest has two solid wins since an opening-week loss to Oregon, and will be the latest team to challenge Waunakee's supremacy atop the Badger North when the teams meet up on Friday night. It's our Madison Taxi Game of the Week. Waunakee is averaging nearly 50 points per game, and has given up one late score so far this season.
Sauk Prairie (1-2, 1-0) at Reedsburg (2-1, 0-1): Both teams headed in opposite directions from their crossover results, as Sauk Prairie rebounded from a shutout loss to put up 50 points on Portage in a win. Meanwhile, Reedsburg was blanked by DeForest after a 2-0 start to the year. With MH/B and Waunakee still on the schedule, Reedsburg has little margin for error as they work their way back to a playoff bid. For Sauk Prairie, a 2-0 start could put them possibly a win away from a playoff spot, although they'll still need two to clinch.
Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2-1, 0-1) at Beaver Dam (1-2, 0-1): Two playoff teams from a year ago find themselves on the brink here, as the losing team will only afford one more loss to keep their ability to clinch a playoff spot. Such is life in the Badger Conference. Mount Horeb/Barneveld went from 600+ yards and 41 points to being shut out by Waunakee, but that was in part due to not having Malik Winston at their disposal. Beaver Dam had a big Week 2 win, but fell to an improved Baraboo team in Week 3.
Portage (0-3, 0-1) at Baraboo (1-2, 1-0): Baraboo's made some strides, taking a two-score lead on Stoughton last week before losing late and then taking down a playoff team from a year ago (Beaver Dam) to get their first win of the year. Portage had some close wins last year, but the Warriors are still searching for their first one of 2018. As with all the Badger teams, a second loss in Week 4 makes the margin for error incredibly small, since Waunakee is still on the schedule.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 6.
Monona Grove (3-0, 1-0) 21, Oregon (1-2, 0-1) 7: Madison Taxi Game of the Week (LISTEN): It was the defense that came to play for the Silver Eagles, holding Oregon to only 117 yards of offense. It's not as though the offense took a night off, as their big offensive line paved the way for 356 rushing yards and three rushing scores on the evening. Coach Beckwith was pretty happy with the efforts of Jalen Ostrowsky, who picked up 233 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in the win.
Stoughton (3-0, 1-0) 29, Edgewood (1-2, 0-1) 9: Adam Hobson got 100 yards on the ground and through the air to help the Vikings pick up their first conference win of the season. Nathan Hutcherson had a kickoff return for a score and a touchdown reception to help Stoughton take down Edgewood. Edgewood's defense had another decent game, but gave up 185 yards on the ground as the Vikings' big offensive line paved the way for five yards per carry.
Milton (2-1, 1-0) 27, Monroe (0-3, 0-1) 19: Milton outlasted Monroe for the second straight year to open up Badger South play.
Watertown (2-1, 1-0) 53, Fort Atkinson (0-3, 0-1) 0: Watertown cruised while Fort Atkinson continues to struggle defensively to start the year behind virtually all brand-new starters. The Goslings had nearly 400 yards of offense, but it was the defense that limited Fort Atkinson to 50 total yards to pitch the shutout.
Milton 1-0 (2-1)
Monona Grove 1-0 (3-0)
Stoughton 1-0 (3-0)
Watertown 1-0 (2-1)
Edgewood 0-1 (1-2)
Fort Atkinson 0-1 (0-3)
Monroe 0-1 (0-3)
Oregon 0-1 (1-2)
*Clinched Playoff Spot
#Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Week 4 Games:
Stoughton (3-0, 1-0) at Milton (2-1, 1-0): Usually a top wrestling match-up, it's an interesting early-season clash of the schools as well. The Vikings will be getting their best test of the season so far, while Milton will have an opportunity to thrust themselves into the Badger South title discussion. This is the only 1-0 vs. 1-0 contest in the Badger South this week.
Monona Grove (3-0, 1-0) at Edgewood (1-2, 0-1): After Monona Grove got a healthy taste of one of the better challengers in the Badger South last week, holding off Oregon, they'll see one of the more improved teams in the league when Edgewood hosts the Silver Eagles this week.
Watertown (2-1, 1-0) at Monroe (0-3, 0-1): Watertown's one loss was a 30-pointer to Waunakee, the best effort anyone has had against the Warriors in three games this season, so you can forgive them for their blemish on their record. The offense is probably what the Goslings are better known for, but they only gave up 50 total yards last week to Fort Atkinson. Monroe will have a tall task in front of them as the Cheesemakers look for win #1.
Fort Atkinson (0-3, 0-1) at Oregon (1-2, 0-1): Fort's played three solid opponents, but Oregon faced teams with a combined 24-3 regular-season record from a year ago in their first three games, and only lost by two scores to two of them and put up only a minus-15 in point differential. The Panthers' offense struggled against the big front line of Monona Grove last week, but their defense kept them in it until about four minutes to play. Oregon can now fly under the radar the rest of the way a bit, although their meeting with Stoughton in Week 6 should be a good one.
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 6.
Capitol Conference - North and South (Non-Conference)
Not counting crossovers, the Capitol Conference is 18-9 in non-conference games this season (North 10-5, South 8-4)... the Capitol North leads crossover games 3-0
(Thursday) Belleville (3-0) 35, Wisconsin Dells (1-2) 6: Another road-grading effort for the Belleville Wildcats' outstanding offensive line, boosting Belleville to their second straight 3-0 start.
(Thursday) Marshall (1-2) 45, Adams-Friendship 32 (0-3): A wild back-and-forth game through three quarters (it was 6-0 after one quarter) with big play after big play, the Cardinals were able to win the final 18 minutes and the game. Dylan Horstmeyer had a number of big runs in the game.
(Thursday) Wautoma (2-1) 49, Waterloo (0-3) 19: The defending South Central champs, the Wautoma Hornets, rolled to a 49-19 win in this SCC-Capitol Crossover contest to bounce back after last week's loss.
Columbus (1-2) 32, New Glarus/Monticello (1-2) 26 (Overtime): Columbus rallied to win this one in overtime, after trailing by two scores at halftime. It was the lone crossover game of the week.
Lake Country Lutheran (3-0) 33, Lakeside Lutheran (2-1) 14: The final score isn't very indicative of how close the game was for three-plus quarters, but Lake Country Lutheran looks every bit the part of the contending team in D5 with some solid wins to start the year.
Cambridge (3-0) 30, Horicon/Hustisford (2-1) 13: Cambridge got a huge win over a larger school this week, in a battle of undefeated teams, to ratchet up some momentum heading into a tough part of the schedule, including the start of conference play.
Lake Mills (2-1) 24, Mauston (2-1) 14: Lake Mills solved the Mauston defense to some degree, getting 24 points on a team that had given up eight points all year, and did enough to get another non-conference win.
Poynette (3-0) 26, Nekoosa (0-3) 7: Over 200 rushing yards and a solid defense helped Poynette pick up their third win to start the season, adding perhaps another contender to the crowded field in the Capitol North this season.
Luther Prep (2-1) 54, Westfield (0-3) 16: It was a pretty lopsided win for Luther Prep, as the Phoenix get ready for the Capitol North season that begins in Week 5.
Lodi (3-0) 16, St. Viator (IL) (0-2) 7: After falling behind 7-0, the Blue Devils rallied with 16 unanswered points to extend their state-longest winning streak (tied with three other teams) to 17 games.
Week 4 Games:
Marshall (1-2) at Poynette (3-0): Marshall showed they can make big plays on offense, but how will it play out against an improved Poynette Pumas team buoyed by their defense? This is one of the more interesting crossover games this week.
Luther Prep (2-1) at Waterloo (0-3): Points haven't been a problem for the Phoenix this year, while Waterloo is still in the process of building ahead of the Capitol South schedule. Experience is in favor of Luther Prep this week.
Wautoma (2-1) at Lakeside Lutheran (2-1): These conference title hopefuls will hook up in one of the more interesting games in the southern part of the state this week. Wautoma won the South Central last year, while Lakeside is a Capitol North favorite this year.
Lake Mills (2-1) at Winnebago Lutheran (2-1): Winnebago Lutheran put up a 40-0 shutout last week and averages about 29 points per game in three contests this year, while Lake Mills has rebounded nicely from an opening-week loss to Menomonie to pick up two wins. One of the more interesting games in non-conference play statewide this week.
Wisconsin Dells (1-2) at Cambridge (3-0): After a couple of tough losses to Belleville and Lodi, Wisconsin Dells will get their third straight conference champion from a year ago in the Capitol Conference as the Chiefs try to end a two-game losing streak. Cambridge will be a tough customer, particularly at Bob Nodolf Field, as evidenced by their 17-point win over a solid Horicon/Hustisford team last week.
New Glarus/Monticello (1-2) at Mauston (2-1): It's a match-up of 2017 conference champions, as NG/M is coming off of a tough loss in overtime to Columbus last week while Mauston is working back from a 10-point loss to Lake Mills.
Lodi (3-0) at Westfield (0-3): Lodi will try to extend their state-long winning streak to 18 games. The Blue Devils are high in the rankings despite losing a ton of talent to graduation after last season.
Belleville (3-0) at Nekoosa (0-3): Another of the Capitol-South Central crossovers, Belleville has used a big offensive line to bulldoze opponents in 2018.
Columbus (1-2) at Adams-Friendship (0-3): It took overtime, but Columbus got their first win of the year over a tri-champ in the Capitol South last week. Adams-Friendship couldn't quite keep pace in the final minutes of their loss to Marshall last week. Could be an offensive fireworks show this week.
-There are six mandated South Central - Capitol crossovers this week.
-Capitol Conference play begins Week 5
Playoffs: No one can clinch until Week 7
McFarland (3-0) 9, Beloit Turner (2-1) 7: This one played out as expected: two top teams slugging it out for a spot atop the early Rock Valley leaderboard. McFarland was able to pull it off on the road and set up a game in Week 4 between the last two undefeated Rock Valley teams.
Edgerton (2-1) 30, Brodhead/Juda (2-1) 7: Edgerton's ascension as an up-and-comer got a boosts when they took down fellow upstart Brodhead/Juda, as the Cardinals were off to a 2-0 start a year after seeing their 25-year playoff streak end last season. Edgerton's lone loss was to conference-leading McFarland.
Jefferson (2-1) 14, Evansville/Albany (0-3) 13: Evansville/Albany's off to their second straight 0-3 start, while Jefferson notched a win over one of their biggest recent rivals in the conference. The win keeps Jefferson in the hunt for a conference title behind their powerful ground game led by Nolan Klawitter.
East Troy (3-0) 41, Big Foot (0-3) 7: The Trojans have out-scored opponents by 86 points in three games. They'll see their biggest challenge of the season so far with McFarland in Week 4. Big Foot has struggled defensively, but they've also faced some of the tougher teams in the league to start the year.
Clinton (1-2) 47, Whitewater (0-3) 18: Clinton got back into the win column, a boost for a team that had to replace a ton of senior talent from last year, and got coach Sandiford his first win at the helm of the Cougars.
East Troy 3-0
Beloit Turner 2-1
Big Foot 0-3
*Clinched playoff berth
Week 4 Games:
East Troy (3-0) at McFarland (3-0): A whopper of a game matching two of the best quarterbacks in the state, it's the lone 3-0 vs. 3-0 match-up in the area in Week 4. Both teams have shown the ability to play solid defense and put up points at will. One of the best games in the state for this week. The winning team also likely gets a pass into the playoffs, although nobody can clinch until next week.
Jefferson (2-1) at Brodhead/Juda (2-1): The winning team will stay in arm's reach of the conference title, and both teams have great ground games to keep them in the hunt even with a loss. It's a measuring-stick game, since Jefferson has been at or near the top of the standings for a few years while Brodhead/Juda is trying to climb the ladder after missing the playoffs last year.
Clinton (1-2) at Edgerton (2-1): Speaking of measuring sticks, Clinton has won the conference two years in a row, and to continue that success, they'll have to play one of the most improved teams in the area, Edgerton, and get a win this week. Edgerton had a big victory over Brodhead/Juda last week, and with East Troy still looming as well, the Crimson Tide have some opportunity in front of them to stay in the Rock Valley title picture.
Beloit Turner (2-1) at Evansville/Albany (0-3): This was an overtime game last year, that Turner won. Despite the record, the Blue Devils are still a dangerous opponent, and with their backs against the wall, Turner can't afford a letdown after losing by two points to McFarland last week if the Trojans hope to stay in the conference title picture.
Whitewater (0-3) at Big Foot (0-3): The good news? One of these teams will get the win they've been working hard towards for over two months. The bad news? The team that loses will have to win out to clinch a playoff spot.
Playoffs: No teams can clinch until Week 5.
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