A sneak peek at Week 3 of HS football
I've spent two weeks telling you what's wrong with high school football in the area.
I despise the fact that Craig and Parker have already played.
I'm also not a fan of any games being played before school begins.
And don't get me started on the ridiculous scheduling format in the Rock Valley that seems to change every year. This game counts. That game doesn't count.
Yet for all that's wrong with certain aspects of what takes place off the field, it pales in comparison to all the good things that happen on the field.
Here's a look at some interesting storylines as we head into conference play in the Rock Valley, Southern Lakes and Badger South. The Big Eight begins Week 3 of conference play.
Parity in the Rock Valley
Two weeks into the season, and only Rock Valley North favorite Evansville/Albany and Rock Valley South upstart Beloit Turner are unbeaten.
The perennially strong Rock Valley North was a paltry 3-9 in nonconference games, while the South was 5-7.
Jefferson, Brodhead/Juda and McFarland, three programs with plenty of posteason history, are a combined 0-6.
The Rock Valley North is Evansville/Albany's to lose, but the South could be a four-team race between eight-time defending champion Walworth Big Foot, Turner, Clinton and defending co-champion Brodhead/Juda.
Young, Monona Grove head Badger South
Monona Grove appears to be head and shoulders above the rest of the Badger South thanks to impressive wins over Badger North powerhouses Mount Horeb/Barneveld and DeForest.
Tailback and University of Iowa recruit Toren Young has 476 yards rushing and five touchdowns in two games for the Silver Eagles.
Milton got a reality check with a 28-0 loss to Waunakee last Friday, but the Red Hawks still figure to be in the title hunt in the South. A key Badger South-opener at Madison Edgewood looms Friday night for Milton.
The Badger South was 8-6 overall in crossover games, including 2-0 starts for Monona Grove, Oregon and surprising Monroe.
Southern Lakes loaded
No area conference had a better run through the nonconference portion of its schedule than the Southern Lakes, which went 12-4. Union Grove, Delavan-Darien, Wilmot and Waterford are all 2-0.
And no player was more impressive in the area to start the season than Delavan-Darien's Jake Benzing. The junior quarterback has been unstoppable, combining for 766 total yards of offense in two games and eight touchdowns.
Lake Geneva Badger is 1-1, but the Badgers may turn out to be the best team in the conference. The Badgers lost in overtime to Division 1 state powerhouse Kenosha Bradford 26-25 last Friday.
Big Eight up for grabs
Madison East—yes the same program that has one conference win in the last three years—is 2-0 and tied with Janesville Craig, Middleton and Madison La Follette for first place in the Big Eight.
The Purgolders will find out just how good they are Friday night when they host defending conference champion Middleton.
Craig has started strong thanks to a bend-but-don't-break defense and a balanced offensive attack.
La Follette was not expected to contend for a title, but the Lancers have impressive wins over Sun Prairie and Madison Memorial.
Parker is 0-2 but has lost both games by a combined four points.
Two losses may be good enough to win the Big Eight title, and one loss certainly should be.
Here's a look at four of Friday's area games:
n Verona (1-1) at Janesville Craig (2-0), Big Eight, 7 p.m., , Monterey Stadium—Can the Cougars make it two straight over their longtime nemesis? Craig won a wild one last year, 29-28, on Joe Glowacki's 37-yard field goal with nine seconds left.
Verona will certainly be in revenge mode. Verona coach Dave Richardson believed Craig got away with an illegal substitution on a fake-punt play on fourth down in the second quarter. It resulted in a first down and eventually a touchdown. Craig was not penalized on the play.
“They might talk about it, but it hasn't even been on our radar,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said of the controversy surrounding last year's game.
“All we're concerned with right now is playing a very good Verona team that should be 2-0. They probably should've beaten Middleton last week. They got stopped on the 1-yard line.”
In splitting its first two games, Verona has once again relied on its vaunted running game. The Wildcats have thrown for only 77 yards while rushing for 376.
Carson Parks has done most of the damage on the ground. The senior has 348 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
Craig held off crosstown rival Janesville Parker 14-12 last Friday to win the Monterey Rock for the fourth straight year.
Aristide Serrano continues to lead the way offensively. The senior has rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games.
“I thought we made good adjustments at halftime last week,” McCormick said. “We were able to take away some things that Parker likes to do, and hopefully we can have the same type of success against Verona this week.”
n Best guess: Verona 21, Craig 14.
n Janesville Parker (0-2) at Beloit Memorial (0-2), Big Eight, 7 p.m., Beloit Memorial High School—Does Clayton Kreger get the first win of his coaching career after two heartbreaking losses?
Parker is 0-2 but could easily be 2-0. The Vikings lost each game by two points.
Beloit is mired in a 14-game losing streak. The Purple Knights have been outscored 96-40 their first two games, including 75-13 in the first half.
Quarterback Steven Makinen has been the lone bright spot for an anemic offense. The junior has thrown for 400 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
Special teams—including PAT problems—and penalties have doomed the Vikings in both games.
DJ Vance is third in the Big Eight in rushing. The junior has 296 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
n Best guess: Parker 47, Beloit 7.
n Beloit Turner (2-0, 0-0) at Walworth Big Foot (1-1, 0-0), Rock Valley South, 7 p.m., Big Foot High School—Big Foot has outscored Turner 299-27 the last five years, including an astounding 168-0 the last three. Look for that to change.
Turner first-year coach Derek Diehl has reinvigorated a program that had won only 13 games the last 12 years.
The Trojans have a wealth of talent at the skill positions, led by three-year starter Seth Smith at quarterback. Smith has thrown for 245 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 148 yards.
All-everything senior wideout Nate Loomis has caught five passes for 177 yards and five touchdowns.
The eight-time defending Rock Valley South-champion Chiefs have won 53 of their last 54 conference games but were hit hard by graduation.
Zak Greco, an all-state defensive back a year ago, has filled in admirably at quarterback. The senior has thrown for 426 yards and six touchdowns.
Defense has been the sore spot for Big Foot. The Chiefs have allowed 69 points in two games, and in last week's nonconference loss to Delavan-Darien allowed 606 yards of total offense.
n Best guess: Big Foot 28, Turner 20.
n Delavan-Darien (2-0, 0-0) at Elkhorn (1-1, 0-0), Southern Lakes, 7 p.m., Elkhorn High School—Although this is Game 1 of a seven-game Southern Lakes schedule, it's a pivotal one for these two teams with postseason aspirations.
To say Benzing has been on a roll would be an understatement. The junior quarterback has thrown for 558 yards and five touchdowns and added 208 yards and three rushing TDs.
The question is can the Delavan-Darien defense stiffen up? The Comets have allowed 68 points in two games.
Elkhorn struggled in badly losing its opener to Waukesha North but bounced back with an impressive win over East Troy in Week 2.
Konnor Mohr (174) and Ryan Shilts (120) both rushed for over 100 yards last week, as the Elks piled up 385 yards on the ground.
Elkhorn held on for a 22-19 win a year ago.
n Best guess: Delavan-Darien 34, Elkhorn 27.
(7 p.m. starting times)
Verona at Janesville Craig
Janesville Parker at Beloit Memorial
Madison La Follette at Madison West
Middleton at Madison East
Madison Memorial at Sun Prairie
Fort Atkinson at Mount Horeb
Stoughton at Monroe
Milton at Madison Edgewood
Monona Grove at Oregon
Delavan-Darien at Elkhorn
Wilmot Union at Waterford
Burlington at Lake Geneva Badger
Westosha Central at Union Grove
ROCK VALLEY NORTH
East Troy at Evansville/Albany
McFarland at Whitewater
Jefferson at Edgerton
ROCK VALLEY SOUTH
Palmyra-Eagle at Brodhead/Juda
Orfordville Parkview at Clinton
Beloit Turner at Walworth Big Foot