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Football Guide

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2 – August 22, 2019 – 2019 Football Preview

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 3

Table of Contents Offensive line schemes and techniques 3-4 Verona team preview 5 Breaking down the Wildcats offensive line 8 Q&A with Wildcats safety Cale Rufenacht 10 Big Eight Conference preview 11 Oregon team preview 14 Breaking down the Panthers offensive line 16 Q&A with Panthers running back Damien Johnson 17 Stoughton team preview 19 Breaking down the Vikings offensive line 20 Q&A with Vikings wide receiver Dylan Sperle 21 Badger South Conference preview 22

On the cover: Verona offensive tackle Adam Vandervest, Stoughton offensive tackle Jack Nelson and Oregon guard Nate Hall.

Photo by Kimberly Wethal

Cover story

Interior anchors BY ADAM FEINER AND MARK NESBITT Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are often times referred to as “skill players.” As much skill as those positions might have, games are often won in the trenches. The offensive lines at Verona, Oregon and Stoughton paved the way to playoff appearances last season, and are looking to do the same again this fall. E a c h t e a m h a s d i ff e rent nuances and drills for its blocking systems, but the technique ties almost all lines together. The goal of each line is the same — work together out of the limelight, so others can enjoy the spotlight.

Verona Coach Dave Richardson said the blocking schemes have not changed at all in his two decades of coaching. “We are doing the exact same thing we did 20 years ago with the O-line,” he said. “The formations, motions and shotgun are a little

File photo

Stoughton’s Jack Nelson (75) makes a block against Portage in a game last year. Nelson, has been named Badger South Offensive Lineman of the Year the last two seasons. different.” One of the biggest differences in the past 20 years is the size and strength of

players who play on the offensive line. Verona senior center Gunnar Kilen is 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, and

tackle Adam Vandervest is 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds.

Turn to O-line/Page 4


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 4

O-line: Different blocking schemes have similar objectives Oregon also tries to confuse teams by flipping its guards and tackles throughout games based on formation and personnel. In addition to potentially throwing off defenses, Panthers offensive line coach Scott Mirkes noted the flipping strategy keeps linemen focused. “It’s challenging for them and keeps them engaged,” Mirkes said. “It also makes ingame adjustments easier; they can adjust on the field instead of us having to call timeout.”

Continued from page 3 “We love to have kids who are all big, but for our offense, you have to have kids who can move at the guard and center,” Richardson said. “You have to be a pretty good athlete at guard. Our guards are generally kids 220 to 230 (pounds) with good feet.” The Wildcats look for bigger players to play tackle and center because they are called on to do more down blocking. “We have had years where we have had nobody over 200 pounds and we’ve been very successful,” Richardson said. “If they are aggressive with our scheme, it’s pretty simple. If you take care of your inside gap, you’ll be in good shape because there’s always someone kicking someone out. We always take a running back or the opposite side guard to kick someone out.”

Stoughton

Photo by Mark Nesbitt

Oregon quarterback Brevin Brisack takes a snap from center Brody Barlow on the first day of practice Aug. 8 at Oregon High School.

Oregon The coaching staffs at Oregon and Verona have frequently swapped ideas about offensive

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line play throughout the years. However, the Panthers do not enjoy the Wildcats’ luxury of size. Only two starters — right tackle Adam Yates and right guard Nate Hall — are more than 200 pounds. Left tackle Brady Gagner and left guard Logan Woodson are both listed at 185 pounds. Center Brody Barlow is only 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but plays with a chip on his shoulder in the Panthers’ Wing-T offense. “In close quarters, it doesn’t matter if you’re 300 pounds,” Barlow said. “If I’m faster, I can still win that matchup.” Players in the Oregon football program grew up running the Wing-T, a popular offense in the Badger South Conference. Continuity at all levels, especially in high school, is crucial to success. “We focus a lot on communication of where we’re going and who to block,” Gagner said. “We always make sure we’re on the same page. We typically don’t have any issues, and if we do, they get ironed out in practice.” “You have to be smart and have a lot of chemistry,” Woodson added. “If you can’t play for the team and communicate, everything is going to fall apart.”

Unlike its chief rival in Oregon, the Vikings have big linemen that are required to zone block in a spread offense. “We typically go about 50/50 with the run and pass, but if the holes are there, there’s no reason to pass,” Stoughton offensive line coach Rocky France said. “The pass keeps defenses honest, but as an offensive line coach, I love to run the ball. We have a great group of guys that fire off the ball.” University of WisconsinMadison commit Jack Nelson is set to anchor the Vikings’ line in his fourth season at left tackle. Three of the other four linemen are entering their second seasons as starters. Sophomore Gabe Rousseau is expected to step in at left guard, but started all of last season primarily blocking as Stoughton’s starting U back. “We just need to get better in practice each day,” Rousseau said. “We’re going to be a dangerous line this year, and our running game should be pretty good.” Nelson certainly garners most of the attention on the Vikings’ line, but France has high expectations for Rousseau and seniors Ethan Skavlen, Zach Wahlin and Tony Hohol. “We have four guys that can play at the level Jack does,” France said. “They just have to be on their game. We’re pretty even across the board, and that’s what we want. We don’t want the defense to be able to shift to a weakness.”


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 5

Verona Wildcats Haakon Anderson Derek Argall Adam Bekx Eric Blum Caleb Burkhart Quan Caffey Jacob Connor Ben Cramer Aubrey Dawkins Arhat Dwa Emiliano Garcia-Rayas Joe Gervasi Ryan Gitzke Michael Guy Skylar Hawkins Nick Heinzen Xavier Howard Noah Jannusch Gunnar Kilen Anthony Kinney Trevin Lieck Keegan Lindell Zach Lowry Jackson Marchant Alex Mendez Cole Meverden Max Meyers Austin Moody Caden Page Cale Rufenacht Paige Saltz Quin Smith Hunter Tadisch Taeman Talton Henry Tang Logan Tracy Adam Vandervest Kyle Walton Sam Wood Jackson Acker Matthew Bolduc Keavon Boyce

Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Jr. Jr. Jr.

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Verona aiming for lasting impression MARK NESBITT Assistant sports editor

It will be a historic season for the Verona football team before the Wildcats kick off Friday night against Janesville Parker. The 2019 campaign marks the final season the team will play at Curtis Jones Field. A new turf field will be unveiled when the new Verona Area High School opens in the fall of 2020. Before then, the Wildcats want to make more scrapbook memories at Curtis Jones Field. “We’re going to try to win a state championship,”

senior quarterback Adam Bekx said. “If your goal is not to win a state championship, you should not be playing.” It’s a lofty goal for a Verona team that went 7-2 and finished third in the Big Eight Conference last season. The Wildcats have been a perennial playoff team under coach Dave Richardson, who is entering his 20th season. Verona has made the playoffs 15 of the last 16 years, but the 63-21 loss in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs last season still stings.

Turn to Wildcats/Page 6

A GREAT TEAM MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Passing Name Comp Att Comp% Yards TD Int Y/ATT YPG Adam Bekx 144 225 64 1,807 15 3 8.0 180.7

Rushing Name Keegan Lindell Jackson Acker Haakon Anderson Sam Wood

Att Yards YPC TD YPG 122 727 6.0 9 72.7 84 528 6.3 7 52.8 63 512 8.1 12 51.2 21 136 6.4 0 6.9

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Receiving Name Rec Yards Y/Rec Haakon Anderson 46 689 15.0 Aubrey Dawkins 14 204 14.6 Jackson Acker 15 152 10.1 Keegan Lindell 5 52 10.4


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 6

Wildcats: Several players could play on both sides of the ball Continued from page 5

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Verona senior Aubrey Dawkins returns a kickoff in practice Aug. 8 behind Badger Ridge Middle School. receptions for 689 yards, and rushed for 512 yards. Like Richardson, Anderson said the playoff loss to Arrowhead has served as motivation. “Throughout this offseason, there has been a little edge,” Anderson said. “When we would have a little bit of a down practice, we collectively as a group say we don’t want this to end the same way this year.” Senior wide receiver Aubrey Dawkins had 14 receptions for 204 yards and four touchdowns last season, but was limited to five games due to a broken collarbone. “Anywhere I throw the ball, I know they will go and make a play,” Bekx said. “We have so many athletes and so many

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playmakers coming back. It will make my job super easy.” “I just have to stay out of their way and let them do their thing,” Richardson added. “In my view, there is no wrong call. We are generally getting the ball in some of our best players’ hands.” Verona will be bolstered by four returning starters along the offensive line starters — guards Joe Gervasi and Noah Jannusch, tackle Adam Vandervest and center Gunnar Kilen. “I know I will stay safe with all of those big guys up front protecting me,” Bekx said. The Wildcats have traditionally been cautious about playing athletes as two-way starters, but that could change. Richardson said the team

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“As far as we’re concerned, we’re 0-1 with that last game,” Richardson said. “We’re treating it like we’re the underdogs. Yeah, they may be projected as favorites in the conference or near the top, but coming off that last game last year, that is where their mind needs to be.” The Wildcats run a spread Wing-T base offense that is triggered by Bekx, who passed for 1,807 yards and 15 touchdowns to only three interceptions last year. He completed 64% of his passes and made the Wildcats’ offense a dual threat. “We return what I think what will be the best quarterback in the state,” Richardson said. Verona also returns junior running back Jackson Acker, a University of Wisconsin-Madison verbal commit, at the end of his sophomore year. Acker emerged as the lead back at the tail end of his sophomore year, as he finished with 528 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. “He’s going to see the ball more than five or six times a game,” Richardson said of Acker. “He (Acker) can catch the ball as well as he can run it. It will be my job to distribute and keep everyone happy.” Fellow junior Graham Stier is expected to play a role at fullback and running back. Senior Haakon Anderson returns as a first-team all-Big Eight wide receiver. Anderson scored 16 touchdowns last season (12 rushing and four receiving), reeled in a team-high 46

will rotate some starting offensive linemen and skill players will play both ways to create more size on the defensive line. Vandervest and Kilen are expected to start on both lines, Gervasi could play on the defensive side as well, and Acker is expected to see time at defensive end along with senior Skylar Hawkins. “We just have to stay healthy and hope some of these twoway kids can stay on the field and not get too winded,” Richardson said. The Wildcats return their entire secondary, a talented group Richardson called “phenomenal.” Cale Rufenacht and Michael Guy are expected to be safeties, and Cam McCorkle and Xavier Howard are at cornerback. Senior Keegan Lindell is moving from fullback to middle linebacker. He led the team in rushing and was a secondteam all-Big Eight selection last year, but is expected to lead the defense this season. “He comes downhill and plays middle linebacker like he plays fullback. He plays like his pants are on fire,” Richardson said. The other inside linebacker will be Derek Argall. Senior outside linebackers Ben Cramer, Sam Wood, Kyle Walton and Max Meyers anchor an experienced group. In addition to his own team, Richardson projects Sun Prairie, Madison Memorial and Middleton to be top contenders for the Big Eight title.

Photo by Mark Nesbitt

Verona’s Jackson Acker (right) stiff-arms Arrowhead’s Johnny Orlando in their Division 1 first-round playoff game last season.


"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." -Vince Lombardi

Date

Opponent (home game in orange)

Time

Aug. 23 Aug. 30 Sept. 6 Sept. 13 Sept. 20 Sept. 27 Oct. 4 Oct. 11 Oct. 18

Janesville Parker Middleton Janesville Craig Madison West Sun Prairie Madison Memorial Madison La Follette Beloit Memorial Madison East

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 8

Verona Wildcats

D-I recruits offer protection MARK NESBITT Assistant sports editor

Few high school football teams will feature two Division I college recruits on their offensive line the way Verona will this season. The Verona football team’s offensive line will be anchored by 6-foot-7, 280-pound center Gunnar Kilen and 6-foot-6, 290-pound tackle Adam Vandervest, a Western Michigan commit. Kilen has received 22 Division I offers. Three notable schools on his list are Colorado State, Wyoming and Northern Iowa. “I haven’t really told colleges my final list because I’m talking to a bunch of them,” he said. “I’m going to probably commit in the next month.” Kilen has bulked up in the

Photo by Mark Nesbitt

The starting offensive line for Verona includes (from left) tackle Cole Meverden, guard Joe Gervasi, center Gunnar Kilen, guard Noah Jannusch and tackle Adam Vandervest. weight room to prepare for a standout senior season. Having a big, aggressive player at center is a luxury for the Wildcats. “I love snapping the ball

and calling out the offense on who’s doing what,” Kilen said. The recruiting process for Vandervest started slow last year before picking up steam.

He was a defensive lineman in youth football, and didn’t make the switch to offense until last year.

Turn to Wildcats/Page 9

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 9

Wildcats: Three all-conference picks back on offensive line Continued from page 8 “It was a little different because as a defensive lineman you want to have your arms extended,” Vandervest said. “I still get caught up using the D-lineman technique.” In addition to not being heavily-recruited, Vandervest suffered a torn labrum in the 63-21 loss to Arrowhead in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs last season. “It wasn’t until the offseason in January that it really started to blow up and my dreams of college football started to become a reality,” Vandervest said. Vandervest visited Northern Illinois last November, and got an invitation to visit South Dakota that he posted on Twitter. “Twitter kind of helped,” he said. “It was a huge wildfire of invites after I got my first one.” Vandervest also visited Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska, in addition to 10 Division I offers from schools like Toledo and Central Michigan. “I really wanted to make (a decision) before the season started so I could focus on my senior season,” Vandervest said. “The recruiting process, as much as I was glad to have the opportunity, is a very stressful season where you go

all over the country visiting places.” Vandervest visited Western Michigan last February and attended its football camp in June before committing. He respects the way his future coaches handled the recruiting process. “Some coaches kind of play around with you, but they gave it to me straight,” he said. “I thought it was a great fit.” Vandervest has a link to Western Michigan at Verona through current Wildcats defensive coordinator Scott Cramer, who played collegiately for the Broncos. “Their coaching styles are exactly the same,” Vandervest said. “It will be an easy transition. I know what to expect.” For the Wildcats’ array of skill players to have success, the all-senior offensive line of Kilen, guards Joe Gervasi and Noah Jannusch and tackles Cole Meverden and Vandervest must open up seams and set the edge on sweeps. “If we don’t do our job, they can’t do theirs,” Kilen said. “It’s really important that we do ours so we can win games together.” “We run a lot of sweeps, and if (Wisconsin commit) Jackson Acker gets in the open field,” Vandervest added, “he’s gone and you’re left a big smile on your face.”

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 10

Verona Wildcats

Rufenacht excited to start MARK NESBITT Assistant sports editor

Verona senior Cale Rufenacht is a safety in the Wildcats’ 3-4 defense. Rufenacht is the leading returning tackler (60) for a defense that gave up 15 points per game last year. Q: Who is your favorite NFL team? A: Green Bay Packers Q: What is your favorite pre-game meal? A: Pasta of any sort Q: Who is the hardest worker on the team? A: Haakon Anderson Q: If you could pick any position to play, what would it be and why? A: Right where I’m at (safety). I love it, and that’s why I chose it.

Q: What is your favorite football memory? A: Cam (McCorkle’s) pick against Middleton to seal it off last year. (Verona beat Middleton 27-22). Q What are the expectations this year for Verona football? A: To be the best. We don’t expect anything other than that. We expect to beat everyone we play. Q : D o yo u h av e a n y superstitions on game night? A: No, I don’t. Q Will you try to play football or golf in college? A: I will kind of see how it goes. I’m just focusing on school. If the right thing comes about, then I will take it from there.

Photo by Mark Nesbitt

Verona’s Cale Rufenacht (5) helps make a tackle against Middleton running back Kallion Buckner in their game last season.

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 11

Big Eight Conference preview

Big Eight under reconstruction MARK NESBITT Assistant sports editor

Photo by Mark Nesbitt

Verona’s Haakon Anderson (right) makes a leaping 32-yard catch in the Wildcats’ 43-35 loss to Sun Prairie last season.

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It’s a swan song of sorts for the Big Eight Conference as football fans know it. With the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s realignment plan going into effect in 2020, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker are embarking on their final season in the Big Eight. Both Craig and Parker are moving to the Badger Large Conference in 2020. Ve r o n a i s p l a y i n g i t s final season at Curtis Jones Field.

Turn to Big Eight/Page 12

2018 Big Eight standings Team Sun Prairie Madison Memorial Verona Middleton Craig La Follette Madison West Beloit Madison East Parker

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 12

Big Eight: Wildcats hoping to keep pace with Cardinals, Spartans Continued from page 11 Sun Prairie, which has won three straight conference titles, and Madison Memorial were co-champions of the Big Eight last year. Verona took third with a 7-2 record, one game behind the Cardinals and Spartans.

Sun Prairie Head Coach: Brian Kaminski (17th season), 12748 Letterwinners returning: 25 Offensive starters returning: 4 Defensive starters returning: 4 The Cardinals made a run to the Division 1 state quarterfinals last year before losing 33-7 to Fond du Lac. Sun Prairie won a state championship two years ago, but will have to reload after graduating 16 players from last year’s co-conference championship

team that earned all-league honors. The Cardinals have to replace first-team all-conference quarterback Richie Gilles, who passed for 2,456 yards and 27 touchdowns last year. They also must find a new top receiver after Cooper Nelson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison walk-on, graduated. The Cardinals also have to fill the void of five defensive players who were firstteam all-conference. Senior Nathan Schauer is back at running back after earning second-team all-conference honors last year. The Cardinals will also rely on Dominick Landphier, a firstteam all-conference defensive back last season, in the backfield. The Cardinals’ defense also will return second-team allconference cornerback Dom Backes.

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Madison Memorial Head Coach: Mike Harris (2nd year), 8-2 Letterwinners returning: 19 Offensive starters returning: 7 Defensive starters returning: 5 The Spartans’ I-formation offense returns first-team allconference quarterback Jason Ceniti and first-team running back Kam Marshall. Ceniti

passed for 1,616 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, and Marshall rushed for 1,116 yards and eight touchdowns. Memorial also brings back two all-conference linemen in Tyson Nash and Nick Carl. On defense, the Spartans will be led by linebacker Kaden Peetz and defensive back Chauncey Cannon, both of whom were second-team all-conference last season.

Turn to Big Eight/Page 13

File photo

Verona’s Skylar Hawkins (55) sacks Madison West quarterback William Gutnecht and forces a fumble in their game last season.

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 13

Big Eight: Bottom of conference eager to tangle with contenders tackles for loss and four sacks), junior defensive back Matthew McLain (61 tackles) and junior defensive lineman Sammy Smith (47 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks).

Continued from page 12

Verona Head Coach: Dave Richardson (20th season), 150-60 Letterwinners returning: 52 Offensive starters returning: 7 Defensive starters returning: 5 The Wildcats return five offensive starters who garnered all-conference honors last year. Verona features a team that has three players with Division I offers — senior offensive lineman Adam Vandervest (Western Michigan), senior offensive lineman Gunnar Kilen (22 offers) and junior running back Jackson Acker (University of WisconsinMadison verbal commit). The Wildcats’ spread WingT offense averaged 35 points per game last year. Verona runs a 3-4 defense and has every secondary starter back. The Wildcats will use some starting offensive linemen on defense to help clog up the run.

Middleton Head Coach: Jason Pertzborn, 1st year Letterwinners returning: 33 Offensive starters returning: 5 Defensive starters returning: 4 Pertzborn succeeds Tim Simon, who guided the Cardinals for 15 years. Middleton returns the Big Eight’s leading rusher from last season in senior Kallion Buckner. The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Buckner used great speed and quickness to rush for 1,134 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He is one of three first-team all-conference players back for the Cardinals, along with senior defensive lineman Billy Johnson, an Air Force commit, and punter Jake Wuebben, who was second-team all-conference at defensive end.

Beloit Memorial

File photo

Verona senior Adam Bekx is back as the Wildcats’ starting QB after passing for more than 1,800 yards and 15 TDs last season.

Janesville Craig Head Coach: Adam Bunderson (2nd year), 10-8 Letterwinners returning: 12 Offensive starters returning: 2 Defensive starters returning: 3 The Cougars made the playoffs for the second straight year last season, but will have to replace Keeanu Benton, who is now trying to earn a starting defensive lineman job at the University of WisconsinMadison. Craig returns Zach Veinum, who was a first-team all-conference offensive lineman last year. Other returning all-conference players are Eric Hughes (defensive back), Parker Glissendorf (fullback and linebacker) and Magnus Jenson (tight end).

Madison La Follette Head Coach: Scott Swanson (6th year), 29-23 Letterwinners returning: 18 Offensive starters returning: 6 Defensive starters returning: 5 The Lancers run a pro-style shotgun offense under the direction of senior quarterback Ben Probst, who passed for 1,064 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.

La Follette returns first-team offensive lineman Luke Vitale and first-team all-conference wide receiver Charlie Kunkel, who had 37 receptions for 536 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior running back Jaylend Brown is back after rushing for 333 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Madison West Head Coach: Brad Murphy (4th season), 17-14 Letterwinners returning: 22 Offensive starters returning: 5 Defensive starters returning: 6 The Regents return a large core of young players who got valuable playing time last year. Ten sophomore starters stepped up after a plethora of injuries. Two years ago, West made a run to the Division 1 state quarterfinals. The Regents run a split-back shotgun offense that also utilizes the option. William Gutnecht stepped in as a sophomore quarterback last year, as he rushed for 436 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 400 yards and seven scores. Returning running back Nazier Jones rushed for 451 yards and three touchdowns last year. On defense, the Regents return three of their top four tacklers in senior defensive end Dayne Armwald (66 tackles, 11

Head Coach: Ken DeBose, 1st year Letterwinners returning: 16 Offensive starters returning: 1 Defensive starters returning: 3 The Purple Knights last made the playoffs in 1999, when they made a run to the Division 1 state semifinals. Former coach Rodney Wedig is now at Milton. Wedig spent the last five seasons at Memorial, going 6-41. He coached Big Foot to a state title in 2009, as well as two-runner up finishes.

Madison East Head Coach: Jeremy Thornton (3rd year), 1-17 Letterwinners returning: 22 Offensive starters returning: 9 Defensive starters returning: 9 The Purgolders averaged just 10 points per game last season, and were shut out three times last year. East, which last made the playoffs in 2015, is 3-24 in the last three seasons.

Janesville Parker Head Coach: Clayton Kreger (5th year), 9-29 Letterwinners returning: N/A Offensive starters returning: N/A Defensive starters returning: N/A The Vikings are looking to return to contention this season after going winless last year and 1-8 in 2017. Parker last made the playoffs in 2015. The Vikings have two players back who were honorable mention all-conference last year — senior linebacker Bryce Heerey (43 tackles) and senior offensive lineman Nathan White.


14 – August 22, 2019 – 2019 Football Preview

Oregon Panthers

Panthers eager to fill voids, return to Div. 2 playoffs BY ADAM FEINER Sports editor

Oregon is looking to make the Division 2 playoffs for the third straight year under coach Dan Kissling. Like their high expectations, the Panthers’ schemes on both sides of the ball will not change this fall. Oregon returns 19 letterwinners, but lost 23 from a team that went 7-3 and 6-1 in the Badger South Conference. “We have a good group that got a lot of playing time last

year,” said Kissling, who is entering his 10th season as the head coach at his alma mater. “Just like last year, they have a chip on their shoulder. We may not be as talented, but we’re together as a team.” Oregon started last season 1-2 after back-to-back losses to Mount Horeb/Barneveld and Monona Grove in Weeks 2 and 3. The Panthers proceeded to win six straight games to close the regular season, but lost 26-23 to La Crosse Central in the first round of the playoffs.

Turn to Panthers/Page 14

Brody Barlow Alex Barnish Jack Daguanno Brady Gagner Mason Grender Nate Hall Alex Johnson Damien Johnson Zach Kapalczynski Matt Kissling Corey Moore Justin Sharkus Thomas Snow Ethan Williams Anthony Wilson Logan Woodson Adam Yates Connor Blanke Aidan Bledsoe Brevin Brisack Braiden Campbell

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Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. So. So. So. So. So. So. So.

Rushing Name Mason Grender Damien Johnson Matt Kissling Ryan McCorkle

Att 15 23 6 15

Name Gabe Pearson Mason Grender

Rec 7 4

Yards 216 124 121 79

YPC 14.4 5.4 20.2 5.3

TD 0 1 1 0

YPG 36 30.2 30.2 15.8

TD 1 4

YPG 19 15

Receiving

SUPPORTING PANTHER FOOTBALL

Yards 117 46

Y/Rec 16.7 11.5

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 15

Panthers: Brisack and Victorson expected to play important roles Continued from page PB

Photo by Adam Feiner

Oregon returns 19 letterwinners from last season’s squad that finished second in the Badger South. The Panthers are looking for their third straight Division 2 playoff appearance. terminology, but he’s getting better with each day. Erik just does some things that make you say, ‘Wow.’ We have confidence in both of those guys.” Four-year starter and allstate linebacker John Klus is gone, but the Panthers have depth to replace his production at the position. Matt Kissling is the only returning all-conference defender. He earned secondteam honors in 2018 after recording 83 tackles (teambest 10 for loss), four sacks, an interception and a defensive touchdown. Logan Woodson, Clayton Haggerty and McCorkle also saw time at linebacker last season, but the Panthers will have three new starters in the defensive backfield. “We need to tackle and pursue to the ball more,” McCorkle said. “I think we struggled with open-field tackling last year. That’s a main focus this year.” Oregon opens the season at Reedsburg, then hosts Beaver Dam, Stoughton and Edgewood before hitting the road for contests against Milton and Monroe. The Panthers close the regular season with home games against Monona Grove and Watertown and the finale at Fort Atkinson.

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“I love our team this year and the way we work together,” junior tight end Gabe Pearson said. “We definitely lost a lot from last year, but we’re using that as fuel for this year.” Kissling said Pearson might be the best tight end in the conference coming into this season, a year removed from catching six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in six games. He was an honorable mention all-conference selection for his versatility both as a receiver and blocker. “I feel great about my position,” Pearson said. “I like being in tight blocking with our line, and also being able to catch a ball off the line. If it’s a passing game, I’ll catch passes. If it’s a running game, I’ll be in the trenches every snap.” T h e Pa n t h e r s h ave t o replace all-conference running backs Dylan DiMaggio and Keion Szudy. Ryan McCorkle added 15 pounds in the offseason and will move from wing to fullback in Oregon’s Wing-T offense. Mason Grender rushed for 216 yards on 15 carries last season, and along with Matt Kissling and McCorkle, could provide the Panthers with a stable of dependable backs. The quarterback position remains up in the air after dual-threat Nolan Look graduated. Erik Victorson and Verona transfer Brevin Brisack are taking the majority of the first-team snaps in practice. Corey Moore is also getting some reps with the first-team offense. Dan Kissling thought Victorson could have challenged Look for the starting job last season if not for a hip injury. The veteran coach said that no matter who the starting QB is, both will play offense and defense. “They’re both pretty equal, talented guys” Kissling said. “Brevin is getting used to our

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 16

Oregon Panthers

Panthers use in-game movement, athleticism to their advantage BY ADAM FEINER Sports editor

Flipping the positions of linemen throughout a game was first introduced in the NFL by legendary coaches Don Coryell and Raymond Berry. Oregon has implemented the strategy for years with its lines in its Wing-T offense. The Panthers’ guards and tackles flip sides of the line based on the formation and personnel. “We have certain guys for certain sides of the line,” senior left tackle Brady Gagner said. “We try to keep a certain tackle with a tight end on one side.” Oregon uses the flipping system for two main reasons: its athleticism and lack of size. Only two starters — right guard Nate Hall and right tackle Adam Yates — are more than 200 pounds. “I’m only sitting at 200 pounds, so we need to rely on speed and force,” Hall said. “We’re all good athletes, and we all want to work.” Offensive line coach Scott Mirkes uses only six drills in practice, an elementary but vitally important method of

Photo by Adam Feiner

Oregon’s offensive line relies on its speed and flipping strategy rather than its size. The starters are (from left) Brady Gagner, Nate Hall, Brody Barlow, Logan Woodson and Adam Yates.

instruction. Instead of pushing a blocking sled or each other around all the time, Mirkes often sets out cones and has his players work on their steps. “We don’t do a whole lot. We just try to get good at the things we do,” Mirkes said. “We hit the sled, but we use it for our first, second and third steps and to see our hand placement. We try to keep it quick and explosive.”

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At Oregon, the running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends are called “perimeter players” instead of “skill players.” It’s a sort of homage to the Panthers’ multi-sport athletes in the trenches. Gagner plays baseball, Hall is a wrestler, Yates uses his height to his advantage in basketball, and center Brody Barlow plays hockey. The (flipping) system is perfect for us,” said Mirkes, who is in his eighth season as an offensive line coach and fifth season with Oregon. “We have multi-sport athletes who utilize their athleticism to block. After that, it’s about knowing your alignment and assignment.” Barlow is entering his first season as the starting center. His main job is to snap the ball, then often times down block the nose tackle in front of him. “It’s actually a pretty easy system to be a center in,”

Barlow said. “Being able to get the ball off fast and not fumbling is key, as well as knowing the count and making sure I step to the right hole.” Logan Woodson is also entering his first year as a starter. He suffered a high ankle sprain Week 3 against Monona Grove last season, and missed the next five games. Woodson is slated to start at left guard, which the Panthers also refer to as “tight guard.” If he’s not flipping to the other side of the line, he’s often times pulling to trap a defensive lineman or blitzing linebacker. “I feel like it throws some g u y s o ff b e c a u s e w e ’r e always moving and trying to misdirect and confuse the defense,” Woodson said. “With how successful we’ve been in the last few years, I’d say it works pretty well.”

Turn to Line/Page 18


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 17

Oregon Panthers

Johnson eager to get started ADAM FEINER Sports editor

Oregon senior Damien Johnson is a running back and defensive back for the Panthers. He started the final four games of the 2018 season due to injuries, and rushed for 124 yards and a Johnson touchdown on 23 carries last season. Johnson is expected to take on a starting role on both sides of the ball in 2019. Q: What are some team expectations this season? A: We all just want to win. Our main goal is to make it

to the playoffs, and we’ll take it one game at a time after that. Q: Are you nervous for the season? A: Not really. I was one of several sophomores who were brought up in 2017, so we got our experience then. Q: What is this team’s biggest strength? A: Our togetherness. Everyone is pretty closeknit. We just have to work hard on the field to be better together. Q: What is this team’s biggest weakness? A: I would say just getting through games. We don’t have a lot of people out on varsity, and we don’t have a lot of people

we can bring up. We have to make sure we’re well-conditioned to play both ways. Q: Teammate poised to breakout? A: Aden Look. He’s a junior coming up who isn’t really big, but he’s just an athlete. Nobody knows about him now, but he’s fast and knows what he’s doing. He could do a lot this year. Q: Favorite pre-game meal? A: For the boys, I have to say Taco Bell. That’s our spot. We honestly go there way too much. Q: Team you’re most looking forward to playing? A: Stoughton (said before question was finished). Q: Favorite Oregon football tradition?

A: Word of the day. During the two weeks of twoa-days, the defensive backs have a different word of the day each day. We always define it, spell it and use it in a sentence. That’s been going on for as long as I can remember. Q: Funniest teammate? A: Nate Hall. He’s so full of energy all the time. He does this war cry where he runs and screams when he blocks for me, even if there’s no one there. Q: Favorite NFL player? A: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot. He’s just a monster. He’s so huge, and he’s strong and runs with so much courage. You see him running into defensive tackles with no fear.

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2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 18

Line: Trust and proper footwork imperative to Panthers’ success

Photo by Adam Feiner

Oregon offensive linemen work on their steps while running through plays during practice Aug. 14. Instead of pushing a sled all the time, the Panthers work with cones to perfect their craft. Continued from page 16 Yates is entering his second season as the starter at right tackle. He might be the biggest Panther lineman, but still uses the same technique as his teammates. “We try to get two steps down before the guys across from us gets one,” Yates said. “We try to use our speed to our advantage.” Hall earned first-team allBadger South Conference

honors last season as a firstyear starter. He’s slated to start at right, or “split,” guard. Gagner was a second-team all-conference selection at left tackle in 2018. The second-year starter is confident in protecting a first-year starter at quarterback and several running backs. “We definitely trust the guys behind us,” Gagner said. “We’re going to continue to block the same

way we would for anybody. We’ve definitely matured as a group.” Wi t h m o r e ex p e r i e n c e under their belt and experienced running backs graduated, the all-senior line is helping Oregon’s running backs find holes in practice ahead of the first game.

“Our guys expect every play to go for a touchdown,” Mirkes said, “and when that doesn’t happen, they’re disappointed. But they get right back to fixing things. “They want our quarterback to be clean and want to rush for 400 yards every game.”

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Oregon’s Adam Yates (right) drives to the basket as Stoughton’s Jack Nelson defends during a basketball game last year. Yates’ athleticism allows him to also be a right tackle in football.


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 19

Stoughton Vikings

Photo by Adam Feiner

The Stoughton football team returns 22 letterwinners from last year’s squad. The Vikings are seeking their fourth straight Division 2 playoff appearance.

Experience creates big expectations BY ADAM FEINER Sports editor

With almost twice as many returning letterwinners as departures from last year, Stoughton has its sights set on lofty goals this fall. The Vikings only made the playoffs twice before 2016, but are now seeking their fourth straight postseason appearance under fifth-year coach Dan Prahl. “A lot of us have been playing together since youth football. It’s been exciting to have us come up and do well,” junior linebacker Brooks Empey said. “This is the year we’ve been looking forward to for awhile with the current seniors and juniors.” Stoughton won five straight games to begin last season, but faded late with three straight losses. The Vikings routed Fort Atkinson in Week 9 to qualify for the Division 2 playoffs, but were quickly ousted by Badger South champion Monona Grove. The Silver Eagles outscored Stoughton 79-14 in

two meetings last year, but an experienced group of Vikings are eager to claim a conference title this season. Stoughton returns 26 letterwinners, including eight starters on offense and six on defense. Prahl and his coaching staff know the lofty expectations for their team, and have been preparing their players with tough, up-tempo practices. “I think teams are going to try to get in some of our players’ heads,” Prahl said. “We’re trying to hammer composure through and break them down in practice, soN the games are easier. We’re constantly talking about mental toughness.” Senior quarterback Adam Hobson returns to lead the Vikings’ spread offense. Hobson showed off his dual threat capabilities last season by throwing for 1,239 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions and finishing second on the team in carries (113), rushing yards (674) and rushing touchdowns (5).

Turn to Vikings/Page 20

Quinn Arnott Owen Chase Ethan Dixon Zak Finholt Jacob Gibson Severin Halverson Adam Hobson Tony Hohol Nathan Hutcherson Jack Nelson Jack Sanford Isaiah Ruffins Ethan Skavlen Dylan Sperle Tanner Thorpe Bishop Altenburg Teddy Baldukas

Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Jr. Jr.

Rudy Detweiler Brooks Empey Conor Hanson Curtis Juskulke Konner Knauf Nick Mathias Connell McGee Jonah O’Connor Jack Rilling Reece Sproul Zach Wahlin Logan Wevley Connor Wheeler Dustin Woelke Barrett Nelson Gabe Rousseau

Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr. So. So.

Passing Name Comp Att Comp% Yards TD Int Y/Att YPG Adam Hobson 108 221 48.9 1,239 13 7 5.6 123.9 Jonah O’Connor 3 5 60 44 0 0 8.8 22

Rushing Name Att Yards YPC TD YPG Adam Hobson 113 674 6.3 5 67.4 Quinn Arnott 39 245 6.3 2 40.8 Nathan Hutcherson 9 113 12.6 1 16.1 Jonah O’Connor 10 92 9.2 1 23

Receiving Name Nathan Hutcherson Zak Finholt Quinn Arnott

Rec Yards Y/Rec TD YPG 40 426 10.7 6 53 4 47 11.8 2 23 5 45 9.0 0 11


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 20

Stoughton Vikings

Vikings a talented, touted group BY ADAM FEINER Sports editor

An offensive line is rarely the most-hyped position group on a high school football team. Then again, most offensive lines aren’t like the one at Stoughton. T h e Vi k i n g s h ave t h e size, speed and postseason accolades to garner plenty of attention for a team aiming for the top spot in the Badger South Conference. T h o u g h o ff e n s ive l i n e coach Rocky France has a talented and touted bunch to work with, he pushes the five starters — Jack Nelson, Gabe Rousseau, Zach Wahlin, Ethan Skavlen and Tony Hohol — to continually improve on their craft. “We need to challenge ourselves to get better each day,”

Photo by Adam Feiner

Stoughton returns four starters on the offensive line under the direction of position coach Rocky France (back). The five starters are (from left) Tony Hohol, Ethan Skavlen, Zach Wahlin, Gabe Rousseau and Jack Nelson. said France, who is entering his third season as the offensive line coach at Stoughton. “Sometimes we get complacent, and that’s not acceptable. They know that. We strive to get 1% better each day.” Stoughton runs a zoneblocking scheme, which is common in spread offenses. France said the scheme

requires players who are committed to proper technique with the hands, head and feet. France often has his linemen work in the chute, which has a tarp-like canopy with a metal frame roughly five or six feet high. Players must come out of their stance low to sneak under the chute. Stoughton’s linemen also frequently work on fitting and

driving, whether it be with sleds, hand-held pads or each other. “They do a great job of firing off the ball and getting out in space,” France said. “We take care of the first level, then get to the linebackers. We expect to create holes in front of running backs, as well as cutback lanes.”

Turn to O-line/Page 20

Vikings: Veterans set to mix with new starters in Stoughton Continued from page 19 He was named honorable mention all-conference last season in his first year as the starter, but is determined to improve on his completion rate, as he completed 48.9% (108-for-221) of his passes. “A d a m i s o n e o f t h e hardest-working kids I’ve coached,” Prahl said. “He has a good arm and continues to get better with his timing on throws.” “I tweaked a couple things, but for the most part, I’m sticking to the basics,” Hobson added. “With a lot of guys returning, we’re incorporating a lot of things we’re excited about.” One of Hobson’s top targets figures to be senior wide receiver and return man Nathan Hutcherson. He had a team-high 40 catches

Hobson

Jaskulke

and six receiving touchdowns, and racked up 1,093 all-purpose yards and eight total touchdowns on his way to second-team all-conference honors last season. Senior running back Quinn Arnott is stepping into the featured back role to replace Dwight Walker. Arnott rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries last season. Stoughton lost its three top tacklers, but brings back plenty of experience to its 4-3 defense.

Curtis Jaskulke is the only returning all-conference defender. He had 32 tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and will be joined again at defensive end by sophomore Barrett Nelson. Jasulke and Nelson started all 10 games last season as a sophomore and freshman, respectively. Stoughton will have to break in an all-new linebacking corps. Empey made 61 tackles last year as a safety, but will be moving back to his old position. He’ll be joined at the position by classmate Rudy Detweiler. The Vikings have three returners in the defensive b a c k fi e l d — J a c k S a n ford, Teddy Baldukas and Owen Chase — and Prahl is expecting big things from new safety Jonah O’Connor.

Stoughton starts the season with its two Badger Conference crossovers. The Vikings travel to Beaver Dam in Week 1, then host defending Badger North champ Waunakee. P r a h l , a 2 0 0 7 O r eg o n alum, will face off against his alma mater at Panther Field in Week 3. “I think our first three games will be a great indicator of what kind of team we’ll be,” Prahl said. “We’ll see how we match up in the state. Our guys are excited and not scared of the opportunity. Our guys are going to get everybody’s best shot.” Stoughton hosts Fort Atkinson, Edgewood and Milton in Weeks 4-6, and travels to Watertown and Monroe before hosting Monona Grove to end the regular season.


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 21

Stoughton football

Sperle no longer sidelined ADAM FEINER Sports editor

Stoughton senior Dylan Sperle is a wide receiver for the Vikings. After missing all of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee, Sperle is eager to get back on the field and help the team. Q: When and how did the injury occur last year? A: It was the middle of summer. July 16 I think. I was running a route, jumped up to catch a ball, came down and heard my knee make a loud pop, and fell to the ground. I didn’t know it was ACL-related at the moment. Q: What was the rehab like? A: It’s been a long journey. The physical therapists had me doing a lot of singleleg stuff since I lost a lot of strength in my quad and hamstring. I had to get all that back before I got cleared to play, but I got cleared at the beginning of August, a week before practice started. Q: Just how much did yo u m i s s b e i n g o n t h e field?

Photo by Adam Feiner

Stoughton senior wide receiver Dylan Sperle catches a pass on the first day of practice Aug. 9. Sperle missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. A: I missed it a ton. I’m just glad to be back. I’m still limping a little bit because of

my shin, but I’ll be alright. Q: What have you done in the weight room and on

the field to prepare yourself for this season? A: I’ve done everything if it didn’t cause me to be in pain. It’s been all good so far. Q: What are some personal expectations this season? A: I just want to stay healthy all year and play. I’m tired of being on the sidelines. Q: What are some team goals this season? A: I honestly think we can be conference champions, make the playoffs and go on a run. Q: Favorite Stoughton football tradition? A: The pre-game. Captains give us a speech to get us hyped up. Q: Favorite pre-game snack? A: Protein bar Q: Favorite Coach Prahl saying? A: He has a lot of good lines, so it’s hard to pick just one. “ Wo r k t o g e t h e r, s t a y together” is a good one. Q: Funniest teammate? A: Nathan Hutcherson

O-line: Vikings hoping to wear defenses down with size and strength Continued from page 20 Nelson is the most touted of the five starters. He became the first member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 2020 recruiting class when he verbally committed during his sophomore season, following in the footsteps of his father Todd, who played on the Badgers’ offensive line in the late 80’s. Jack Nelson is entering his fourth season as a starter, and is coming off two straight seasons as the Badger South Offensive Lineman of the Year. The 6-foot-7, 280-pounder is ranked as a four-star prospect

by 247sports and a three-star by Rivals, but remains focused on his final season at Stoughton. “We should be improved since we only lost one lineman (Jack True) from last season,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of pressure on us, but I think we’ll handle it well. We just want to be better than we were last year.” Rousseau is expected to step in to replace True at left guard this season. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder started at U back last year as a freshman, which helped him build rapport with a new crew on the line. “Playing together multiple

years in a row has really helped us build a connection,” Rousseau said. “We have great chemistry.” Wa h l i n , a 6 - f o o t - 3 , 210-pounder, is entering his second year as the starting center. “We really know what we’re going to get from each other,” Wahlin said. “We know how each other work.” The right side of the Vikings’ line is equally large in senior guard Ethan Skavlen (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) and senior tackle Tony Hohol (6-foot-2, 260 pounds). Both are entering their second seasons as starters.

Skavlen missed all of his sophomore season due to injury, but was named honorable mention all-conference as a junior. “We’re a pretty confident group,” Skavlen said. “We just need to come out every game and play our game. Things will take care of themselves.” Hohol, like his counterpart Nelson, is confident the group up front can take on an even larger role this season. “We might feel some more weight on our shoulders holding more responsibility, but the offense starts with us anyways,” Hohol said. “We just have to be able to execute.”


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 22

Badger South preview

Panthers, Vikings aiming to topple MG MARK NESBITT Assistant sports editor

Both Oregon and Stoughton are hoping to contend for a Badger South Conference championship heading into the season. Oregon coach Dan Kissling tabbed Monona Grove and Watertown as the two top teams coming into the season. The Panthers will host the Silver Eagles and Goslings in Weeks 7 and 8. Oregon has won five conference titles, but not since 1990. “We haven’t won conference in so many years, and I think we can do that this year,” Kissling said. “But especially this year, there’s no slouch in the conference. Every team is better from last year. There used to be a time 10 years ago where you could count on beating a couple teams 35-0, but that’s not the case anymore.” Stoughton coach Dan Prahl sees his Vikings as the conference favorite, ahead of Monona Grove, and Oregon and Milton as potential dark horses in the race. “In this conference, every week is tough,” Prahl said. “We’re going to see a variety of styles and talent levels. We’re hungry for a conference title, especially after coming up a game short two years ago.”

Monona Grove Head Coach: Brandon Beckwith (4th season), 42-7 Letterwinners returning: 25 Offensive starters returning: 5 Defensive starters returning: 0 The Silver Eagles have to reload after graduating all of their defensive starters from a Badger South Conference championship team last year. Monona Grove has won the conference title nine of the last 10 years. The Silver Eagles

File photo

Oregon’s Matt Kissling (right) tackles Monona Grove’s quarterback during a game in 2017. Kissling will play a larger role as a running back and linebacker this season. made a run to the Division 2 state quarterfinals last year, where they lost 33-7 to Badger North champ Waunakee. Experience could be an issue with just 13 seniors. Senior running back Brady Killerlain (836 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry and nine touchdowns) will be the focal point of the Silver Eagles’ spread attack. Junior Cam Behnke and sophomore Casey Marron are batting to start at quarterback. Senior center Garrett Hanson, a first-team all-conference selection last year, anchors the offensive line, along with classmates Nate Wilcox (6-foot-2, 330 pounds) and Devin Bilder (6-foot-4, 285 pounds).

The Goslings averaged 26.5 points per game last year. Watertown returns four allconference players on offense. Second-team quarterback Ethan Pauly passed for 2,526 yards and 23 touchdowns last year as a junior, and also ran for 448 yards and eight scores. Tight end Daniel Denault earned first-team honors after hauling in 59 receptions for 711 yards. Wide receiver Cade Oiler, a first-team selection, had 34 receptions for 400 yards and four touchdowns, and Kory Stas was a second-team selection with 41 receptions for 786 yards and 12 touchdowns. Both are ranked in the top 15 wide receivers in the state by Wissports.net.

Watertown

Oregon

Head Coach: Benji Kamrath (11th season), 51-50 Letterwinners returning: 36 Offensive starters returning: 7 Defensive starters returning: 7

Head Coach: Dan Kissling (10th season), 33-54 Letterwinners returning: 19 Offensive starters returning: 7 Defensive starters returning: 7

The Panthers had one of the top running games in the Badger South last year, racking up 2,261 yards and 26 touchdowns. Oregon finished one game behind Monona Grove last year for the conference title after a 21-7 loss to the Silver Eagles in Week 3. The Panthers have to replace two first-team all-conference running backs in Dylan Dimaggio and Keion Szudy. Oregon could rely on an experienced offensive line led by senior guard Nate Hall, who was a first-team pick, and senior tackle Brady Gagner, who was a second-team selection. In the backfield, the Panthers are expected to lean on senior running back Matt Kissling (121 yards last year), Mason Grender (216 yards) and junior fullback Ryan McCorkle. Oregon also has one of the top tight end targets in the conference in junior Gabe Pearson (7 catches, 117 yards).

Turn to South/Page 23


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 23

South: Teams at the bottom gearing up to challenge favorites Continued from page 22 There is a quarterback competition between junior Erik Victorson, senior Corey Moore and junior Brevin Brisack. The Panthers’ 3-3 defense will have to fill the void of all-state linebacker John Klus. Kissling could be a candidate to replace Klus at linebacker, along with senior Logan Woodson and junior Clay Haggerty. Pearson, Hall, Gagner and senior Anthony Wilson will anchor the defensive line.

Stoughton Head Coach: Dan Prahl (5th season), 23-17 Letterwinners returning: 22 Offensive starters returning: 8 Defensive starters returning: 6 The Vikings run a spread offense with talented linemen and skill position players. The key cog on the line is University of WisconsinMadison recruit Jack Nelson, who Prahl said excels in pass protection and gets off the ball well. Nelson is ranked as the second-best player in Wisconsin by Wissports.net. Quarterback Adam Hobson threw for 1,239 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, and ran for 674 yards and five scores. Hobson’s top target last year was Nathan Hutcherson, who caught 40 passes for 426 yards and six touchdowns. The Vikings’ young 4-3 defense is expected to be anchored by junior linebacker Brooks Empey, who is the top returning tackler from last year with 61 stops.

Madison Edgewood Head Coach: Jesse Norris (2nd season), 3-6 Letterwinners returning: 7 Offensive starters returning: 5 Defensive starters returning: 2

File photo

Stoughton wide receiver Nathan Hutcherson (right) makes a diving catch against Watertown last season. Hutcherson and the Vikings are confident they can challenge for a conference title. The Crusaders run a spread offense that will feature a lot of new skill players. All five returners on the offense are linemen. Patrick Wolter, Connor Grabins and Nick Fox were second-team all-conference last season. Edgewood will play all of its home games at Breese Stevens Field since school officials are still negotiating with the City of Madison to get approval to play games on its campus.

Milton H e a d C o a c h : R o d n ey Wedig (1st season) Letterwinners returning: 21 Offensive starters returning: 6 Defensive starters returning: 3 Wedig takes over a Red Hawks program looking to rebound after going 3-6 the last three years. The last time Milton made the playoffs was 2015. Wedig went 6-41 in five years at Beloit Memorial before coming to Milton. He guided Big Foot to a Division 4 state runner-up finish in 2008 and a Division 4 state championship in 2009. Quarterback Hunter Pernot

threw for 533 yards and six touchdowns in five games for the Red Hawks last season. Pernot is competing with Evan Jordahl for the starting spot, but both could play a role on offense. Senior running back Nick Huber (327 yards, 5.5 yards per carry last season) and Jerry Jones are expected to carry the load in the backfield. Dane Nelson is the Red Hawks’ top returning wide receiver (25 catches, 325 yards and three touchdowns last season). Milton runs a 3-4 defense led by second-team all-conference safety Jordan Stivarius, who had 67 tackles and one interception last year, and junior linebacker Logan Knudsen (48 tackles).

Monroe Head Coach: Toby Golembiewski (4th season), 17-14 Letterwinners returning: 28 Offensive starters returning: 8 Defensive starters returning: 7 The Cheesemakers return both quarterbacks who played last year in senior Alex Witt and junior Max Golembiewski. Witt served as the starting quarterback for the first six

games, but moved to tight end to get more blocking on the edge. Both are expected to play a role on offense as starters. The Cheesemakers lost their first six games last year, then rallied to win two of their final three. Senior running back Nick Bansley is a threat out of the backfield after rushing for 456 yards and five touchdowns last season. Junior Tyler Mattley could also help carry the load in Monroe’s Wing-T offense. Seniors Bodie Minder and Julian Gruber were all-conference selections on both the offensive and defensive lines last year.

Fort Atkinson Head Coach: Brady Grayvold (2nd season), 0-9 Letterwinners returning: 28 Offensive starters returning: 7 Defensive starters returning: 7 The Blackhawks’ Wing-T offense will be led by senior running backs James Vander Mause and Will Neuser. Fort Atkinson is 3-15 in the last two years, and have had one winning season in the past five years.


2019 Football Preview – August 22, 2019 – 24

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2019 Football Guide  

2019 Football Guide

2019 Football Guide  

2019 Football Guide