“What in the Wide World of Sports is a-goin' on here?”
That famous line from the Mel Brooks' classic comedy “Blazing Saddles” about sums up the first two weeks of the high school football season.
Beloit Turner has won 13 games in the last 12 years. The Trojans are 2-0.
Madison East had won one Big Eight Conference game in the last three years. The Purgolders are 2-0.
Brodhead/Juda has made a state-record 23 straight postseason appearances. The Cardinals are 0-2.
So what gives?
Parity abounds—at least in the Rock Valley South and the Big Eight. The conference champions are likely to have a loss or two.
Eight-time defending Rock Valley South champion Walworth Big Foot appears to have begun its rebuilding after a decade-long dominance in the conference.
Defending co-champion Brodhead/Juda was hit hard by graduation, while back-to-back playoff-qualifier Clinton is 0-2.
Longtime conference powerhouse Middleton is 2-0 in the Big Eight but has won its two games by a combined six points. Janesville Craig, East, and Madison La Follette are also 2-0.
Orfordville Parkview opened the season with its first win in three years, and Turner has impressed the first two weeks.
Turner first-year coach Derek Diehl said a big reason for the Trojans' early-season success is the team's ability to focus on the present and not dwell on the past.
“I wasn't here for any of those past seasons, so I don't even bring them up,” Diehl said. “My job is to convince these kids of their abilities and let them know what they're capable of.
“Am I surprised by our start? Maybe a little bit, but when I see our guys making plays and executing like they're capable of, then the answer is no.”
Turner opened with a five-point win over University School of Milwaukee and followed that up with a 42-20 nonconference win over Southwestern.
Quarterback Seth Smith has thrown five touchdowns in two games for Turner with wideout Nate Loomis on the receiving end of all five. Loomis has five receptions in two games for 177 yards and five TDs.
Can the magic continue for the Trojans?
Turner opens up the Rock Valley South schedule Friday at Big Foot.
“I'm sure to a lot of the kids it's still that Big Foot uniform which plays a little mental game with them,” Diehl said. “But these are different teams in different years.
“The best thing we have going for us right now is that we're not a one-dimensional team. We've got good depth at the skill positions, and I'm hoping that our offense can continue to fire on all cylinders.”
Week 3 should bring another entertaining Friday night.
Does the parity continue, or do the contenders begin to separate from the pretenders?
Just for kicks
The kicking game can be an adventure at the high school level, and it has already had an effect on several area games.
Just ask Janesville Parker, which is 0-2 but has lost each game by a mere two points. The Vikings have scored five touchdowns and attempted to kick an extra point three times. They made one, missed one and failed to get one away in the wet conditions Friday during a 14-12 loss to Craig.
Kicking was the difference for Kenosha Bradford against Lake Geneva Badger in Week 2. Kyle Sinclair had two field goals for Bradford, including one in the final minute to send the game to overtime. In the extra period, Sinclair's extra point was the difference in a 26-25 win.
And sometimes it's not about having a kicker but about executing a snap. Just ask Turner's Juan Reyes, who has the leg to set a Trojans record for longest field goal, though Turner botched two PATs on Friday because he never got a chance to kick the ball away.
John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette.