Sorry, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted–you may have noticed we in the News 18 Sports department have been a little busy now that the WIAA fall sports postseason has arrived.
Still, we don’t mind…it’s an exciting time of the year, and any event that gets us fired up to spend time outside in dreary, cold weather is a good thing.
Next week, we’ll blog more about our exact picks for Level 1 of the WIAA football playoffs. We’ve been keeping track of our weekly picks through the regular season, but this is where things really get interesting. Will yours truly (the grizzled veteran) keep his late season momentum going? Will young upstart Rob Kadonsky (sports intern) keep surprising the department with his prognostications? Can Bill Port (New Berlin Eisenhower alum), Stephen Kelley (Platteville), and Lee DeJarlais (Marshfield) use their local knowledge to help them correctly assess games outside the local area? And will meteorologists Doug Michaels and Nick Grunseth prove they can predict more than just the weather?
For now, here are some of my early thoughts on the football brackets:
Chippewa Falls has a good enough team to make it to Madison, but the Cardinals will have to run a gauntlet of solid programs to get a glimpse of Camp Randall Stadium. Try a Level 1 home game with Bay Port, a Level 2 matchup with either Green Bay Preble or Appleton North (if Preble wins then it’s a road game for Chippewa), D.C. Everest in Level 3….with Arrowhead awating in Level 4. Most every Big Rivers coach believes the conference was "up" this season…the BRC gets a chance to prove it with Chi-Hi, as well as Hudson and Superior squaring off with Wisconsin Valley heavyweights Stevens Point and D.C. Everest, respectively.
Menomonie opened the season with a loss at Marshfield, a game in which the Indians let a two-touchdown lead slip away in the second half. The Indians could tangle with the Tigers again in a Level 3 matchup. The La Crosse schools get home games, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Marshfield won at Logan…River Falls may have a tougher time at Central, but if the Wildcats can channel the same energy they brought to Menomonie Thursday night, RF could get it done. Getting to Madison will be tougher…whoever survives the Level 3 game will likely play defending state champ Kimberly in Level 4.
The WIAA has made a change to its original bracket….Hayward will now host Medford, not Mosinee. The Hurricanes should win that one, but Lakeland will be a tough challenge in Level 2…and Waupaca even tougher in Level 3.
Nice job by the WIAA to set up a backyard brawl, local rivalry game right out of the gate, as Durand goes to Mondovi…but that’s only one of four intriguing Level 1 games. Can Bloomer bounce back after two late season losses as the Blackhawks travel to St. Croix Falls? Altoona at Baldwin-Woodville ought to be a very entertaining game between two spread offense teams, while St. Croix Central at Somerset features two teams which will slug it out with their ground attacks. Whichever team emerges from the Level 3 game has a very good shot of advancing to the state finals.
The "left" side of the bracket is clearly Colby’s to lose. The Hornets haven’t been tested in the regular season, but as we know, things can change in the playoffs. Chetek is the type of team that doesn’t get intimidated, so the Bulldogs could make things interesting against Colby in Level 2. Stanley-Boyd would love another shot at the Hornets, and Ladysmith has played well down the stretch…but if Colby isn’t playing on the turf at Camp Randall, it’ll be an upset.
Two local teams have tough draws on the "right" side of the bracket. Fall Creek has a winnable game at Whitehall, but top-seed Lancaster lurks in Level 2. Osseo-Fairchild has to travel to Holmen for a Level 1 game against defending state champ La Crosse Aquinas.
Hmmm….Edgar is on the "left" side of the brackets, while 5-time defending state champ Stratford is on the "right" side. These two teams both play in the Marawood Conference –the Wildcats beat the Tigers in Week 8 of the regular season — and they could meet again in the state finals. Talk about tough draws: defending D7 state champ Eleva-Strum goes to Stratford in Level 1, while Owen-Withee has to go to Edgar. I don’t expect any upsets in this bracket, which means I’d be shocked if the D6 state final was some matchup other than Edgar vs. Stratford.
On our last few installments of "Sports OT Online Wrap," we’ve speculated about a playoff matchup between Shell Lake and Plum City. Thanks to some nice bracketing by the WIAA, such a matchup wouldn’t occur until the state finals. Congrats to New Auburn for making the playoffs…but the Trojans will have to travel to Gilman in Level 1. Kudos, also, to Spring Valley for its late season push to qualify for the postseason–but the "reward," such as it is, is a trip to Shell Lake. McDonell, under first-year head coach Todd Brown, could be a sleeper team in this bracket–the Macks have a dangerous passing attack, and if weather conditions are favorable for throwing the ball, McDonell could make a run.
On the "right" side of the bracket, Plum City could play a South Lakeland rival in Level 3, either Elmwood or Pepin. At the moment, I’m predicting another all-area matchup in the state finals…much like we had Gilman vs. Eleva-Strum in the 2006 D7 championship game, I’m going to say Shell Lake vs. Plum City in ’08. However, as it is the case in the six other brackets, there are plenty of other teams that want to end their seasons on the turf at Camp Randall Stadium.
We at News 18 Sports are excited about the opportunity to cover all the action. We hope you can join us either on the air, or online, for highlights and all the scores.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on October 24, 2008