KFIZ Sports – High School Football Playoff Primer

High School Football Playoffs – Level 1 – 10/25/19:

The High School Football Playoffs begin on Friday, and several area teams will begin the “second season” – with the ultimate goal of getting to Camp Randall Stadium just four wins away, with five wins needed to take home a Gold Trophy. The following is some analysis of the first round matchups for our area teams, with some notes about each game and the bracket itself. 

Division One: 

#2 Fond du Lac vs. #7 Arrowhead – 7 pm Friday at Fruth Field

The lone D-1 team in our listening area, the Fondy Cardinals, were sent south for their eight-team regional this year. The Cardinals find themselves in a grouping with six teams from the Big Eight Conference and perennial state power Hartland Arrowhead, who happens to be the Cardinals’ opponent in the first round. If that matchup sounds familiar to you, it should. The Cardinals and Warhawks have met up the last two seasons in the playoffs – with Fondy getting the best of Arrowhead in Level Two in both 2017 and 2018. 

Fond du Lac finished the regular season 8-1, with their only loss to Kimberly in overtime in week three. The Cardinals won their last six games of the year – defeating Neenah in week nine 45-21 to clinch the VFA-South Conference Championship for the second straight year. Cardinals quarterback Kyle Walljasper has put up quite the numbers this season – throwing for 1,192 yards and 12 touchdowns, and running for 1,070 yards and 14 scores on the season. 

Arrowhead finished 4-4 in the tough Classic Eight conference this season, and 4-5 overall, and were one of six teams from the league that qualified for the playoffs. The Warhawks started the year 1-2, won three straight in the middle of the season, then closed the year on a three-game losing streak – including a one point loss to Kettle Moraine in week nine. The Warhawks turn to Tommy Darrow to lead their offense. The senior quarterback has thrown for over 1,400 yards and 11 scores, with another three scores coming on the ground. 

Other first round games in this region: 

#1 seed Madison Memorial vs. #8 seed Madison West

#4 seed Middleton vs. #5 seed Madison La Follette

#3 seed Verona vs. #6 seed Sun Prairie

Other games of interest in D1: 

#1 Kimberly vs. #8 Wisconsin Rapids

#4 Neenah vs. #5 Hudson

#3 Appleton East vs. #6 DC Everest

#2 Appleton North vs. #7 Eau Claire Memorial

Division Four: 

#8 Campbellsport at #1 Kiel – Friday at 7 pm

The Cougars are making their second straight playoff appearance and will face a tough test as they face off with the unbeaten Raiders in the first round. Campbellsport finished 3-4 in the East Central Conference and 3-6 overall and are seeking their first win in the playoffs since 2013. Dylan Urban has five rushing touchdowns on the season to lead the Cougars’ offense on the year. 

Kiel finished the regular season 9-0 for the second year in a row under coach Mike Dressler. The Raiders are hoping to make a deeper run in the playoffs in 2019 after going 1-1 in 2018, falling to Martin Luther in round two. Kiel’s last appearance in the third round of the playoffs came in 2016. The Raiders are led by quarterback Mitchell Mahler who has 14 touchdown passes and another 12 rushing touchdowns on the season. 

#6 Ripon at #3 Berlin – Friday at 7 pm

The Tigers and Indians do battle in this re-match of East Central Conference opponents on Friday night. Berlin won the regular season meeting between the two schools 44-6 on their home field. Since that loss to Berlin, Ripon closed the year on a four-game win streak to finish with a 4-3 record in conference, and a 4-5 overall record. That win streak included a one-point win over Winneconne and a three-point win over Kewaskum in week nine that clinched a playoff spot for the Tigers. Max Husboe leads the Ripon offense, with 10 touchdown passes and another seven rushing touchdowns, while Jose Munoz has ran for six scores on the year as well. The Tigers are looking to win their first playoff game since 2009, when they advanced to Level Three. 

Berlin finished the regular season 7-2, with losses to Plymouth and Kewaskum their only blemishes on the year. The Indians have qualified for the playoffs six straight seasons, and are looking to win a game in the postseason for the first time since 2017. 

Other games in this region: 

#4 Denmark vs. #5 Xavier

#2 Sheboygan Falls vs. #7 Winneconne


#4 Kewaskum vs. #5 East Troy – Friday at 7 pm. 

The Indians return to the playoffs after missing out on the postseason last year. Kewaskum had qualified for the post season every year from 2005 to 2017, before falling short last year with a 2-5 conference record. Kewaskum finished 4-3 in the East Central Conference and 5-4 overall for the regular season. The Indians move down a division this year to Division Four, after competing in Division Three during their last playoff appearance.  Their first round opponent, East Troy also finished 5-4, playing in the 10-team Rock Valley Conference. 

Other games in this region: 

#1 Catholic Memorial vs. #8 Milwaukee Obama SCTE

#3 Martin Luther vs. #6 University School

#2 Lake Mills vs. #7 St. Francis

Division Five:

#5 Laconia at #4 New Holstein – Friday at 7 pm 

The Spartans return to the playoffs after a one year absence, clinching a playoff spot win a win over Mayville in week nine. Laconia finished 3-3 in the Flyway and 5-4 overall one season after going 0-5 in conference. The Spartans started the year 1-2, then won three straight before losing back-to-back games against conference leaders St. Mary’s Springs and Lomira before their win over Mayville. Eli Leonard leads the Spartans’ offense, throwing for 14 touchdowns – with six of those scores going to Jake Davies. Davies also has seven rushing touchdowns on the season for Laconia. 

New Holstein finished 4-3 in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference and 6-3 overall. The Huskies are making their third straight postseason appearance, and are looking to make it past round two of the playoffs for the first time since 2010. New Holstein started the season 5-1, but lost back-to-back games to Sheboygan Falls and Kiel in weeks seven and eight. The Huskies then won over Brillion in week nine to clinch a playoff spot. Jacob Rach (13 rushing touchdowns), and Kadyn Judkins (12 rush TD) lead New Holstein’s attack. Junior defensive tackle Sam Casper has 12-and-a-half sacks for the Huskies on the season. 

#3 Chilton vs. #6 Wittenberg-Birnamwood – Friday at 7 pm

The Chilton Tigers finished third place in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference with a 5-2 record and a 7-2 overall mark. Their only losses on the season came to conference leaders Kiel and Sheboygan Falls. The Tigers are making their third straight postseason appearance, after getting to Level Two in 2018. Tyler Meyer has thrown eight touchdowns for Chilton’s offense, while Gaven Lisowe has four rushing TD’s for the Tigers. 

Wittenberg-Birnamwood finished 3-3 in the CWC-Large this season and 6-3 overall. The Chargers return to the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2018, and are searching for their first playoff win since 2004. WIttenberg-Birnamwood started the season 6-1, but dropped their final two contests to Bonduel and Manawa to close out the year. Austin Gibson has eight rushing touchdowns to lead the Chargers this season. 

#7 Omro at #2 Kewaunee – Friday at 7 pm

The Foxes were able to extend a long streak of making the postseason, winning over Lomira 17-14 in week nine to qualify for the playoffs. Omro has now made the playoffs every year since 2010, and are looking to advance to Level Three for the first time since 2015, when they made it to the state semifinals. Omro quarterback Ben Wellhoefer leads their attack on offense, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. 

Kewaunee won the MONLPC-Large with a 5-0 record and finished 8-1 overall. The Storm drop down a division this year, after playing in Division Four last year and advancing to Level Three of the playoffs. Ryan Carmichael threw for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Owen Kudick had nine rushing scores for Kewaunee. 

Other game(s) in this region: 

#1 Amherst vs. #8 Peshtigo


#5 Lomira at #4 Horicon-Hustisford – Friday at 7 pm 

The Lomira Lions are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011. Lomira finished 4-2 in the Flyway and 7-2 overall to make it back to the playoffs. While the Lions are back in the playoffs, they have not won a postseason game since 2004 and will look to get that win in a rematch of a game from week one of the regular season. Lomira won that game over Horicon/Hustisford 28-16. Zach Dewhurst has thrown seven touchdown passes, and ran for six scores to lead the Lomira offense. Collin Yanke has added seven rushing touchdowns on the year for the Lions. Avery Johnson has five sacks to lead the Lomira defense. 

Horicon/Hustisford won eight in a row after their season opening loss to Lomira, capturing the Trailways-Large title with a 6-0 record. This is the fourth year in a row Horicon/Hustisford has made the playoffs since becoming a co-op program in 2016. Husticon got to Level Three last year, the deepest run for either school since Horicon got to Level Four in 2006. 

Other games in this region: 

#1 Lake Country Lutheran vs. #8 Brookfield Academy

#3 Cedar Grove-Belgium vs. #6 Oostburg

#2 Racine St. Catherine’s vs. #7 St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy

Division Six:

#2 St. Mary’s Springs vs. #7 Random Lake – Friday at 7 pm (At North Fond du Lac)

After competing in Division Five in the playoffs last season and winning the State Championship, St. Mary’s Springs drops back to Division Six and will open play hosting Random Lake in round one. The Ledgers captured the Flyway Conference title, going 6-0 in league play and 7-2 overall. Springs lost their opening two games to Lake Country Lutheran and Amherst by seven points each, before winning seven in a row to close out the year. The Ledgers haven’t missed the playoffs since 2007, and have won seven state championships in that stretch, including two seasons in a row and four of the last five. David Mueller and Isaac Hyland have combined to score 22 touchdowns on the year, leading the way for St. Mary’s Springs after Marcus Orlandoni has missed several games with an ankle sprain. 

Random Lake placed third in the Big East Conference with a 6-3 record. The Rams are back in the playoffs after failing to qualify for the last two years, and are looking for their first playoff win since 2006. After starting the season 4-0, the Rams finished 2-3 with losses to Reedsville, Hilbert and Cedar Grove-Belgium. 

#3 Winnebago Lutheran vs. #6 Johnson Creek – Friday at 7 pm

The WLA Vikings are back in the playoffs after two years away, finishing 4-2 in the Flyway Conference and 6-3 overall. The Vikings started the year 4-1, before losing to St. Mary’s Springs and Lomira in back-to-back weeks. WLA then won over Mayville and Marshall to close out the regular season. The Vikings have won at least one playoff game in each of their last four appearances and will look to continue that streak this year. Ryan Weigand has led the WLA offense with 1,300 passing yards and 19 touchdowns on the year – with seven of those scores going to Carson Nell. 

Johnson Creek finished in second place in the Trailways-Small this year with a 4-1 conference record and a 7-2 overall mark. The Bluejays won their first seven games of the regular season, before falling to conference champion Lourdes Academy and Almond-Bancroft in back-to-back weeks to close the year. This is the fifth straight season Johnson Creek has qualified for the postseason, and moves up to Division Six after playing in Division Seven in 2018. Quarterback Justin Swanson leads the Bluejays with over 1,000 yards passing and over 1,000 yards rushing. Swanson has ran for 17 scores to go along with 11 touchdown passes. 

Other games in the region: 

#4 Cambridge vs. #5 Palmyra-Eagle

#1 Racine Lutheran vs. #8 Ozaukee


#2 Oakfield vs. #3 Port Edwards – Friday at 7 pm (At Waupun)

The Oaks qualify for the 8-Player playoffs for the second year in a row and look for a better result in their first round matchup this year over 2018. The Oaks were dominated 48-0 by Sevastopol in round one last year in the first year of playoffs for the 8-player division. Oakfield began the year 3-3, closing out the season with three straight wins to finish 6-3 overall. Grant Bass leads the Oakfield offense, throwing for 20 touchdowns on the season with 10 of those scores going to Grant Burbach. Javaun Mielke has added 14 rushing touchdowns for the Oaks in 2019. On defense, Blake Justmann and Coby Liebelt have combined for 15 sacks to lead the Oakfield defense this year. 

Port Edwards finished the year 6-3, finishing the year 5-1 after a 1-2 start. Quinton Tranel has 20 rushing touchdowns to go along with 14 passing touchdowns to lead the Blackhawks on the year. 

Other games in the bracket:

#1 Belmont vs. #4 Lincoln

Other 8-Player Games:

#1 Newman Catholic vs. #4 Marion/Tigerton

#2 Suring vs. #3 Gibraltar

#1 Luck vs. #4 Frederic

#2 Siren vs. #3 Northwood/Solon Springs

#1 Bruce vs. #4 Shell Lake

#2 Wabeno/Laona vs. #3 Florence