Five of the six teams in the Capitol North finished 2018 with a winning overall record, although just three made the playoffs. Conference champion Lakeside Lutheran advanced all the way to Level 4 before falling in the postseason.
Columbus was the lone conference team to finish below .500, as the Cardinals lost four games by one score en route to a 1-8 finish. Their lone win was over a playoff qualifier (New Glarus/Monticello), but late losses to Lodi (10-8) and Luther Prep (17-14) bumped Columbus from playoff contention. Despite the bumps in the difficult Capitol North, the Cardinals still found success behind seniors Jay Hill and Trent Casper (5 offensive TDs each) and WFCA all-state defensive back Teagen Herschleb (eight interceptions, second in the state), who all made first-team all-conference. Columbus as a team ran for 1,500 yards in nine games and threw for another 500, most of it to Casper. Led by Herschleb, the ball-hawking defense forced 15 turnovers (1.7 per game) and rang up four tackles for losses per game. Most of the young playmakers, such as second-team all-conference linebacker and leading tackler Caden Brunell, will be back for 2019.
Lake Mills lost just two games in the regular season, an opening-week loss against D2 perennial power Menomonie on the road and a lopsided loss to eventual conference champion and cross-street rival Lakeside Lutheran, and got nipped in their playoff opener by Lodi, who they had just defeated by 11 points two weeks prior, 17-14. Sophomore Adam Moen led the L-Cats in passing and rushing en route to a unanimous first-team All-Conference selection, combining for over 2,500 yards of dual-threat offense in just 10 games to go with 34 total touchdowns on offense. Senior Harley Jones, all-state honorable mention at two positions, was named the lineman of the year on both offense and defense for the Capitol North, and six total L-Cats were named first-team all-conference. Lake Mills made its third straight playoff appearance in 2018, after missing the postseason in coach Dan Ferkovich's first three seasons at the helm.
Coach Ferkovich was the analyst for The Big 1070's broadcast of the Division 4 state championship game, which you can listen to here:
Lakeside Lutheran came into 2018 projected to be one of the toughest teams in the conference, if not the state, and that's exactly how it played out behind a wealth of multi-sport talent in the Warriors' senior class. A 12-1 season ended with a two-point loss to the eventual Division 4 state champions (Racine St. Catherine's), but not before the Warriors beat up nearly everyone else they played. Lakeside Lutheran racked up 4,200 yards of total offense, including 3.200 on the ground. Five running backs ran for at least 322 yards, and the Warriors scored 60 touchdowns on offense. Lakeside Lutheran piled up 10 first-team all-conference awards, and six more on the second team, with all but one of those honors coming from the senior class. Casey Ponyicsanyi earned conference offensive player of the year honors as well as a first-team slot at running back and inside linebacker in 2018.
Lodi entered the 2018 season as the defending champions in Division 4, but had lost a dozen all-conference players, including all-world RB/DE Jacob Heyroth. While the Blue Devils didn't make it back to state (falling in Level 2 of the playoffs to upstart Edgerton, 35-14), Lodi still finished with just three losses on the season. The Blue Devils gave Lakeside Lutheran a run, playing at Waunakee due to flooding on Lodi's home field, falling by two scores, and finished 8-3 in their title defense. Austin Soehle, the defensive player of the year in the Capitol North, earned all-conference honors at three positions to lead nearly a dozen total team awards in 2018, and the Blue Devils' vaunted defense landed four seniors on the Capitol North first team. Lodi forced 26 turnovers in 2018, over two per game.
Luther Prep has now gone back-to-back years with a winning overall record (and three of the past four seasons), but failed to make the playoffs. A pair of 5-4 finishes (as well as that 6-3 final record in 2015) make for an improbable statistic: despite going 20-16 over four seasons, the Phoenix have missed the playoffs each of the past four years. On the field, Preston Borchardt paced the offense, rushing for nearly 100 yards per game to go with eight touchdowns on the ground. Nathan de Galley earned second-team all-conference nods at two positions, and sophomore specialist Yuri Soloviyov was a first-team punter and honorable mention kicker for the Phoenix in 2018.
Poynette was an interesting team in 2018, winning their first four games, then losing four conference games in a row before getting a win in the season finale against Columbus to finish above .500 but missing the playoffs. The Pumas allowed just 20 points through their first four games, but then the Capitol North season began, and Poynette gave up 47 to Lake Mills in Week 5. Poynette entered the season behind the strength of its linemen, including three-time first-team all-conference pick Skyler See, which helped pave the way for a pair of 600-yard runners on offense. Nearly a dozen honors from the Capitol North went to the Class of 2020 for Poynette, portending good things to come for the program seeking its first playoff berth since 2014.
2018 Conference Champion: Lakeside Lutheran (5-0), 12-1 overall
2018 Player Honors: OL of the Year & DL of the Year: Harley Jones, Lake Mills (SR); Offensive POY: RB Casey Ponyicsanyi, Lakeside Lutheran (SR); Defensive POY: LB Austin Soehle, Lodi (SR)
2018 Total Playoff Record (not including games against in-conference teams): 3-2; Lodi defeated Lake Mills in Level 1 (overall 4-3)
2018 Final Standings: Lakeside Lutheran 5-0 (12-1), Lake Mills 4-1 (8-3), Lodi 3-2 (8-3), Luther Prep 2-3 (5-4), Poynette 1-4 (5-4), Columbus 0-5 (1-8)
Featured conferences in The Big 1070 listening area will have 2018 year-in-reviews publish this week, including the Big 8, Badger, Capitol, and Rock Valley conferences. Other conferences may be added to the schedule later in the week. Team-by-team 2019 previews begin on August 5.