Two huge Big 8 games will decide the top of the conference this week, while the Rock Valley features two surprise undefeated teams going head-to-head for the outright lead in the conference race, and the Badger Conference heads to their second week of league games as Week 4 of the high school football season arrives on Friday.
⭐ Big Five Games - Week 4, 2018 ⭐
1. 📈 #7 East Troy (3-0) at #6 McFarland (3-0) - Rock Valley
2. 📈 #9 Madison Memorial (3-0) at Middleton (2-1) - Big 8
3. 📈 Sun Prairie (2-1) at #10 Janesville Craig (3-0) - Big 8
4. DeForest (2-1, 1-0) at #2 Waunakee (3-0, 1-0) - Badger North (🔊 Madison Taxi Game of the Week Broadcast)
5. #6 Pecatonica/Argyle (3-0, 2-0) at #3 Black Hawk (2-0, 1-0) - Six Rivers
📈= Playoff Implications
Big 8 (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐📈 #9 Madison Memorial (3-0) at Middleton (2-1): One of a couple of games that could decide the leader of the Big 8 after this week, this rivalry puts together two 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.
⭐📈 Sun Prairie (2-1) at #10 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. It's a big opportunity for Janesville Craig to make the leap, but it's also a big game for Sun Prairie to stay in the Big 8 chase.
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. Verona has the advantage of numbers, but as West showed last year, because they rely on a small core of players, the Regents tend to improve as the season progresses, provided they stay healthy.
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.
📈Playoff Implications: While no Big 8 teams can clinch the playoffs this week, if either Janesville Craig or Madison Memorial win their fourth game, they're all but certain to wrap up a playoff spot. Because 224 teams make the playoffs, and there's only 395-ish teams playing 11-player football in Wisconsin, 4-5 will almost certainly get a team into the playoffs.
Badger North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐ DeForest (2-1, 1-0) at #2 Waunakee (3-0, 1-0): (🔊 Madison Taxi Game of the Week Broadcast) 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. You can read more about this match-up in detail by going here.
#9 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 (and a big part due to the Warriors for being an incredible football team). Beaver Dam had a big Week 2 win, but fell to an improved Baraboo team in Week 3.
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. Of course, it has to be noted that Reedsburg is feeling the brunt of the recent flooding, which forced the cancellation of school this week, and several schools, including Sauk Prairie, are rallying to the aid of Reedsburg.
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 and have given up some points this year. 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 for both teams.
📈Playoff Implications: None this week.
Badger South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
#7 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. MG had to work for points against Oregon, after averaging 44 points per contest over their previous 14 games and settling for just under half of that in Week 3. Meanwhile, Edgewood has shown flashes of good offense and good defense, but it'll take a combined effort to pull the upset here.
#8 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.
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.
📈Playoff Implications: None this week.
Capitol Non-Conference Games (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
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 and undefeated Poynette Pumas team buoyed by their defense? This is one of the more interesting crossover games this week. Marshall is at full strength and can run the option with the best of them, but Poynette has been very difficult to score against, and on top of that, the Pumas force turnovers to help out their offense.
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.
#2 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.
📈Playoff Implications: None this week.
Rock Valley (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
⭐📈 #7 East Troy (3-0) at #6 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. McFarland won tough last week and is on a blazing-fast start to the season. This will be the first-ever varsity football game on the new turf at McFarland.
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.
📈Playoff Implications: The winner of McFarland-East Troy will have a fourth win, which as noted in the Big 8 section, would almost certainly be enough to get a playoff bid even if that team lost out.
More Southern Wisconsin Games (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll)
Trailways-Small: D7 #4 Fall River (4-0) picked up a forfeit win over Wayland Academy... D7 #10 Johnson Creek (3-0, 1-0) faces Cambria-Friesland (1-2, 1-0) in the lone conference match-up of undefeated teams in the Trailways-Small... Deerfield (0-3, 0-1) will try to get their first win of the season against Randolph (2-1, 1-0) on the road.
Southwestern: It's all non-conference games this week. D5 #6 Prairie du Chien (3-0) visits Gale-Ettrick-Trempeleau (1-2) at their turf stadium... River Valley (3-0), unranked in a deep D4 pool, will take on Westby (2-1) this week... Another tough D4 customer without a ranking, Platteville (3-0) gets Arcadia (2-1) this week in another big game.
SWAL: D6 #4 Fennimore (3-0, 1-0) will face fellow conference unbeaten Cuba City (1-2, 1-0) at home this week... D6 #10 Mineral Point (2-1, 1-0) will get Darlington (1-2, 0-1) in an important conference game for both teams. Both teams lost big to Lake Country Lutheran in non-conference play.
Six Rivers: ⭐ D6 #6 Pecatonica/Argyle (3-0, 2-0) will face nemesis D7 #3 Black Hawk (2-0, 1-0) in one of the biggest games in the state for small schools this week. Black Hawk's game against New Lisbon was cancelled last week due to flooding in southern Wisconsin... D7 #6 Potosi/Cassville (2-1, 2-1) continues their rebound from a loss to Black Hawk with an important game against Highland (2-1, 1-1) this week, as the crowded Six Rivers standings begin to separate.
Ridge & Valley: D6 #8 Wauzeca/Seneca (3-0, 1-0) will battle North Crawford (2-1, 1-0) at the top of the conference standings this week... like many teams in the conference, Wonewoc Center/Weston (0-2, 0-0) was impacted by the major flooding on the Kickapoo River this week. They'll take on Ithaca (1-2, 0-0)... Meanwhile, Kickapoo/La Farge (0-2, 0-0) will play Riverdale (1-1, 0-1) on Monday because, at the moment, several communities are either still dealing with major flooding or just beginning recovery efforts in the district.
Great 8: #8 Wisconsin Heights (1-1) will face Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah (1-2) as the season schedule now hits a more consistent stride... #4 Oakfield (3-0) has a Saturday date with McDonell (0-3) before they face Wisconsin Heights in a huge game on September 14.
*each Great 8 team (Wisconsin Heights, Oakfield, Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah, and Port Edwards) gains two additional wins due to forfeits by Abundant Life/St. Ambrose. Those are not factored into the records above.