Special section

THE TITLE CHASE

The Regulars

Arrowhead (12-2 in 2015). The Warhawks have been to the Division 1 state-championship game a staggering four straight years, but last year's loss to Kimberly featured a 21-point lead evaporating in the second half. This year marks a new era under first-year head coach Fritz Rauch.

Brookfield Central (9-2 in 2015). The Greater Metro Conference champion in 2015 will look to get past Brookfield East in both the regular season and the playoffs this year, with linebacker Reggie Jennings perhaps the top defensive player in the state, at least in the junior class.

Brookfield East (10-2 in 2015). Behind two-way standout Sam Santiago-Lloyd, a state Player of the Year candidate, East figures prominently in a three-horse race with Brookfield Central and Marquette for the Greater Metro title. 

Catholic Memorial (11-3 in 2015). The Crusaders have a boatload back, especially on defense, and it's a strong possibility that we see the Crusaders back in the Division 3 title game after a heartbreaking loss to Green Bay Notre Dame last year. Wide receiver Max Cooper is lined up as a big-time breakout candidate.

Cedarburg (8-3 in 2015). The Bulldogs haven't missed the playoffs in the North Shore since 2004. 

Franklin (12-1 in 2015). The Sabers endured a gut-wrenching loss in Level 4 to Arrowhead last year and have since graduated probably the best senior class the program has ever known. Coach Louis Brown will thus have to rebuild, but it'd be foolish to count this squad out of the Southeast Conference title picture.

Greendale (6-4 in 2015). The 2015 season was a down year by Greendale's standards, but the Panthers bring back a top lineman (Mike Witkowski) and their quarterback (Mitchell Gnadt) as they seek a return to the throne in the Woodland Conference.

Homestead (12-2 in 2015). The Highlanders defeated Waukesha West in last year's Division 2 title game, riding the benefits of a 13-minute drive to cap the season in style. Homestead may have only shared the North Shore title last year, but it's one of the perennial heavyweights in the state of Wisconsin.

Lake Country Lutheran (9-2 in 2015). The gold standard in the Midwest Classic looks the part again this year, and it's hard to imagine a team unseating the Lightning in the regular season. The question will be: how deep can they go in the postseason?

Muskego (10-2 in 2015). The Warriors shared the Classic 8 title for a second straight year and should be strong again even with a number of quality graduations. The only problem is the talent and depth of the conference, meaning there won't be many off weeks.

Waukesha West (11-3 in 2015). West capped 2015 in the state-championship game for a second straight year -- but it was won the silver ball for a second straight year. Expect more of the same from the Wolverines behind two-way talent Peter MacCudden.

The Contenders

Greenfield (7-3 in 2015). Greenfield has a new coach in Shane Covington but a ton to look forward to after winning the Woodland Conference title last year. Last year's squad was looked upon as a "year ahead of schedule," with plenty of key pieces back. Can running back Ezekiel Banks stay healthy, and how will new quarterback Rayvon Bartlett fit into the scheme?

New Berlin Eisenhower (8-2 in 2015). Eisenhower was one of the sneakier success stories of 2015, and the Lions appear to be back at a top-flight level, to the point where they can win the Woodland and make some noise in the playoffs.

Oak Creek (8-3 in 2015). Certainly no stranger to success, the Knights may have the chops to win the Southeast Conference this year and maybe do even more damage beyond that. Quarterback Jakup Sinani is one of the area's better players at his position. 

Oconomowoc (11-1 in 2015). Oconomowoc's tremendous season came to a memorable end in a long-awaited battle with neighboring Arrowhead, where the Raccoons rallied from a 21-0 deficit to tie before falling in the final seconds. But the Raccoons, who have now visited Level 3 in two of the past three seasons, bring back a number of high-flying offensive weapons, and this team should be thought of as one of the area's best.

Wauwatosa West (7-3 in 2015). Tosa West could be a stealth player for the Woodland West title, with some reason for excitement given the returning crop of talent from a competitive 2015 team.

Playoff probables

Brookfield Academy (7-3 in 2015). Quarterback Ian Francis is back to lead a squad that has enjoyed playoff trips the past two seasons. 

Germantown (6-4 in 2015). Seldom does this program miss the playoffs out of the North Shore regardless of graduation losses, which were plentiful after last season. 

Pewaukee (5-5 in 2015). It could go either way for Pewaukee in a crowded Woodland chase, but the Pirates haven't missed the playoffs in a long time.

South Milwaukee (4-5 in 2015): Running back Clay Westrum is back, and the Rockets look like a team that should return to the playoffs in 2016.

St. Francis (8-2 in 2015). The Mariners proved to be a very real threat in the Midwest Classic Conference and found some bad luck when they were the lowest enrollment in Division 3 for playoff placement. Many key players return.

University School (5-5 in 2015). The Wildcats also have a number of strong returnees and should be a factor in the Midwest Classic title chase.

Whitnall (6-5 in 2015). Whitnall will have a new coach (John Quinlan) and a new quarterback (converted 1,000-yard rusher Andrew Mallmann) one year after coming close to taking the Woodland East title. 

Intriguing upstarts

Cudahy (4-6 in 2015). The Packers snuck into the playoffs last year and welcome back quarterback Rusty Muprhy.

Mukwonago (4-5 in 2015): Held out of last year's playoffs largely because of a brutal schedule that features the state's toughest conference. No reason to think this team can't get back, except for the still-loaded slate of competition.

Port Washington (3-7 in 2015). With the state's highest-rated offensive lineman (Tyler Beach), the Pirates could sneak into the playoffs with a North Shore that doesn't appear to have as much depth as in years past.

Sussex Hamilton (3-6 in 2015): A team with far greater talent than record indicates, the Chargers will figure into the Greater Metro playoff chase, perhaps battling with Menomonee Falls for a final spot behind the league's three heavyweights (Marquette, Brookfield East, Brookfield Central).

Whitefish Bay (6-4 in 2015). Bay has a small senior class and will rely on juniors to rise to the occasion, but the Blue Dukes seldom get left out of the playoffs in the North Shore. 

Upsets needed

Brown Deer (2-7 in 2015). Brown Deer never could get on track in 2015 after graduating state Player of the Year Zach Baun.

Dominican (3-6 in 2015). The Knights are looking for their first playoff appearance in program history.

Grafton (2-7 in 2015). After one year with Fritz Rauch at the helm, Shaun Behrend takes over as coach.

Kettle Moraine (3-6 in 2015). Kettle Moraine will be led by new coach Justin Gumm.

Martin Luther (4-5 in 2015). Just missed a playoff berth in the Metro Classic last year.

Menomonee Falls (3-6 in 2015).  Top lineman Matt Henningsen returns.

Messmer/Shorewood (3-6 in 2015). The Greyhounds weren't far removed from a playoff berth last year and could sneak up on people.

New Berlin West (2-7 in 2015). New coach Ben Chossek will welcome back five starters on offense.

Nicolet (0-9 in 2015). Al Moroder joins the program looking to help the Knights find a foothold.

St. John's Northwestern (2-7 in 2015). The Lancers have struggled in recent years to stay competitive with the top teams of the Midwest Classic.

St. Thomas More (1-8 in 2015). The Cavs have won just one league game over the past two seasons -- though that win did come in the season finale against Racine Lutheran last year.

Waukesha South (1-8 in 2015). New coach AJ Raebel takes the reins from long-tenured Dave Rusch. South was capable of scoring a lot of points last year.

Wauwatosa East (0-9 in 2015). East just hasn't been able to deliver victories in recent years of Greater Metro play.

West Allis Central (2-7 in 2015): There are brighter times ahead for the Bulldogs as they enter the second year under coach Keith Ringelberg.

West Allis Hale (3-6 in 2015): Hale notched some late-season wins in 2015, including one over Menomonee Falls.

Coach's Confidential

 Asking area football coaches their anonymous thoughts on the greater issues of coaching at the prep level:

In general, how much of a role does winning percentage play when you're being evaluated by your superiors at the school where you work?

Coach 1:
I’d like to think not that big, but that is probably naïve. I don’t think it’s as important as the relationship pieces, the developmental pieces, the schoolwork pieces, but it is on the list somewhere with those I’m sure.

Coach 2: 
Not a factor at this point, but a few losing seasons would likely change that.

Coach 3:
Some, but not most

Coach 4:
When football wins, the whole school seems to be in a good mood. Sometimes I get loose pressure to set a good tone to the start of the school year by winning a lot. 

Coach 5: 
More then they would admit

Coach 6: 
The superiors at our school place a larger emphasis on building a program that operates the right way. Generally, this is a major emphasis on being first class, building men of high character and developing leaders within the school and community. The emphasis on winning resides mostly within members of the community, who are not affiliated with the school. 

Archived responses

PICTURE THIS

 Photo by Scott Ash

Waukesha South players take to the field for preseason football practice on Wednesday, August 3, 2016. South will play this year for new coach AJ Raebel, who takes over for 24-year veteran Dave Rusch.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

 Arrowhead quarterback Johnny Duranso was part of five touchdowns, setting a Division 1 state record with his 275 passing yards when he completed 11 of 16 for three touchdowns. He also ran for two scores and led his team in rushing. It was totally his night to shine right up until Kimberly scored four touchdowns in the final 13 minutes to break Arrowhead's heart in the title game, 49-42. 

Past Players of Week

  • Matt Winters, Homestead
  • Ben Wachter, Franklin
  • Jack Risch, Arrowhead
  • Sam Santiago-Lloyd, Brookfield East
  • Sam Streeter, Greenfield
  • Mitchell Gnadt, Greendale
  • Rusty Murphy, Cudahy
  • Malik Turner, Brookfield Central
  • Caleb Wagner, Muskego
  • Ezekiel Banks, Greenfield
  • Ethan Kennedy, Lake Country Lutheran
  • Ben Nienhuis and Zach Clayton, Oconomowoc
  • Macklin Kortebein, Whitefish Bay

Archive

STAFF TWEETS

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

 The Classic 8 proved that it was the best football conference in the state when it accomplished the unprecedented feat of qualifying three teams for the state-title games. So it came as a shock when none of them brought home a gold ball. The 0-3 showing included late comebacks in the Division 3 and Division 1 title games against Catholic Memorial and Arrowhead, respectively.

Past surprises

  • Arrowhead wins thriller over Franklin
  • Waukesha West pummels through Level 3
  • LCL beaten in overtime on FG
  • Two No. 2 seeds go down in Level 1
  • Muskego takes down Arrowhead for title share
  • Hale knocks off Falls to stay alive
  • Brookfield East downs Fall in landslide
  • Oconomowoc crushes Wisco, goes to 6-0
  • Williams leads Brown Deer past Greenfield
  • Germantown downs mighty Homestead
  • Woodland Conference turns upside down
  • Franklin dominates Greendale
  • Germantown surprises Indian Trail

Archive

State football tweets

Preps Sports Podcast

Sports director JR Radcliffe and Time Warner Sports Channel's JP Cadorin discuss local sports. Latest episode: JP Cadorin talks about his marathon first week of the high-school football season, which was rife with delays and postponements thanks to the lightning in the area. The guys also talk about the Brewers, perhaps for the last time in 2016, talking Jimmy Nelson, Keon Broxton and more. 


TOP FIVE TEAMS

  Franklin (12-0)

  Arrowhead (11-1)

  Waukesha West (10-2)

  Catholic Memorial (10-2)

  Homestead (10-2)

Others receiving consideration: Brookfield East (10-2), Muskego (10-2), Oconomowoc (11-1)

(updated Nov. 8, 2015)
Journal-Sentinel rankings

Standings

 (records portrayed are league, overall)

Classic 8

Team W L  W L
Catholic Memorial 0 0 2 0
Muskego 0 0 2 0
Waukesha North 0 0 2 0
Waukesha West 0 0 1 1
Arrowhead 0 0 1 1
Mukwonago 0 0 1 1
Kettle Moraine 0 0 1 1
Waukesha South 0 0 0 2

Greater Metro

Team W L  W L
Brookfield Central 0 0 2 0
Brookfield East 0 0 2 0
Sussex Hamilton 0 0 2 0
Marquette 0 0 1 1
West Allis Hale 0 0 1 1
West Allis Central 0 0 1 1
Menomonee Falls 0 0 0 2
Wauwatosa East 0 0 0 2

North Shore

Team W L  W L
Port Washington 0 0 1 1
Nicolet 0 0 1 1
Homestead 0 0 1 1
Whitefish Bay 0 0 1 1
Germantown 0 0 0 2
Cedarburg 0 0 0 2
Milwaukee Lutheran 0 0 0 2
Grafton 0 0 0 2

Southeast

Team W L  W L
Oak Creek 0 0 2 0
Racine Horlick 0 0 2 0
Kenosha Indian Trail 0 0 1 1
Franklin 0 0 1 1
Kenosha Bradford 0 0 0 2
Kenosha Tremper 0 0 0 2
Racine Case 0 0 0 2
Racine Park 0 0 0 2

Woodland - West

Team W L  W L
Greendale 0 0 2 0
Wauwatosa West 0 0 2 0
Pewaukee 0 0 2 0
New Berlin Eisenhower 0 0 1 1
New Berlin West 0 0 1 1
Milwaukee Pius 0 0 0 2

Woodland - East

Team W L  W L
Cudahy 0 0 1 1
Whitnall  0 0 1 1
Greenfield 0 0 1 1
Messmer/Shorewood 0 0 1 1
South Milwaukee 0 0 0 2
Brown Deer 0 0 0 2

Wisconsin Little Ten

Team W L  W L
Oconomowoc 0 0 2 0
Slinger 0 0 1 1
Hartford 0 0 1 1
Beaver Dam 0 0 1 1
Watertown 0 0 0 2
Wisconsin Lutheran 0 0 0 2
West Bend East 0 0 0 2
West Bend West 0 0 0 2

Midwest Classic

Team W L  W L
Lake Country Lutheran 0 0 2 0
Brookfield Academy 0 0 2 0
University School 0 0 2 0
Living Word Lutheran 0 0 1 1
St. Franci0s 0 0 1 1
HOPE Christian 0 0 0 2
SJNMA 0 0 0 2
Kenosha Christian Life 0 0 0 2

Metro Classic

Team W L  W L
Martin Luther 0 0 2 0
Racine Lutheran 0 0 1 1
Kenosha St. Joseph 0 0 1 1
Shoreland Lutheran 0 0 1 1
Racine St. Catherine's 0 0 1 1
Dominican 0 0 1 1
St. Thomas More 0 0 0 2
Catholic Central 0 0 0 2

 

Circle the calendar

Thursday, Aug. 18

  • Arrowhead at Homestead. The annual clash of powerhouses takes place for the final time. Homestead won last year's state championship, and Arrowhead now employs former HHS athletics director Ryan Mangan in the same capacity, and head football coach Fritz Rauch was a longtime coordinator for the Highlanders. Intrigue all around.
     
  • Menomonie at Greendale. One of the state's top programs outside the Milwaukee area pays a visit after topping the Panthers last year at their place.
     
  • Brookfield Central at Whitefish Bay. Bay may be rebuilding a bit, but this is still an intriguing clash between two programs typically among the area's playoff regulars.
     

Friday, Aug. 19

  • Franklin at Mukwonago. After a stellar 2015 that finished one snap short of state, the Franklin football team graduates a lot for 2016. Mukwonago will try to prep itself for another rugged journey through the Classic 8.
     
  • Wauwatosa East vs. Wauwatosa West. It's always a treat on State Street when the two squads from Tosa meet in a nonconference clash.
     
  • Kenosha Indian Trail at Germantown. This will provide some interesting data about the plight of both squads, which won't be favored but remain major players in their respective conferences.
     
  • Whitnall at West Allis Central. The Time Warner Cable cameras will be on hand to see the battle between first-year coach John Quinlan and second-year coach Keith Ringelberg, both with programs on the upswing.


 

Full schedule/scoreboard

STAT SHEET

Area statistical leaders (2015 final)

Rushing yards

  1. Sam Santiago-Lloyd, Brookfield East, 2,251
  2. Evander Craft, St. Francis, 2,207
  3. Matt Winters, Homestead, 1,609
  4. Jair Scott, Waukesha West, 1,571
  5. Josh Karfonta, Catholic Memorial, 1,559
  6. Dom Labellarte, Brookfield Central, 1,148
  7. Andrew Mallmann, Whitnall, 1,142
  8. DeAngelo Stewart, Mess/Shorewood, 1,119
  9. Will Kennedy, University School, 1,117
  10. Jacob Rams, Oconomowoc, 1,081
  11. Colin O'Neill, Muskego, 1,078
  12. Ayden Malcomson, Muskego, 1,051
  13. Malik Turner, Brookfield Central, 1,045
  14. Gavin Boeck, Franklin, 1,023
  15. Sam Herriges, Sussex Hamilton, 1,001

Rushing TDs

  1. Sam Santiago-Lloyd, Brookfield East, 31
  2. Evander Craft, St. Francis, 29
  3. Gavin Boeck, Franklin, 25
  4. Matt Winters, Homestead, 23
  5. Jair Scott, Waukesha West, 19
  6. Malik Turner, Brookfield Central, 17
  7. Andrew Mallmann, Whitnall, 16
  8. T.C. Swittel, Brookfield East, 16
  9. Jake Rams, Oconomowoc, 15
  10. Josh Karfonta, Catholic Memorial, 15

Passing yards

  1. Ben Nienhuis, Oconomowoc, 2,854
  2. Kyle Radavich, Whitnall, 2,419
  3. Ian Francis, Brookfield Academy, 1,892
  4. Jake Fisher, Whitefish Bay, 1,877
  5. Johnny Duranso, Arrowhead, 1,806
  6. Mitchell Gnadt, Greendale, 1,801
  7. Brennan Demark, Waukesha North, 1,735
  8. Alex Bray, Catholic Memorial, 1,729
  9. Ben Wachter, Franklin, 1,586
  10. Conor Blount, Waukesha West, 1,577
  11. Nolan Heck, Waukesha South, 1,573
  12. Jakup Sinani, Oak Creek, 1,514
  13. Nate Seymour, Germantown, 1,284
  14. Jake Wiedower, St. Francis, 1,194
  15. Rusty Murphy, Cudahy, 1,177

Passing TDs

  1. Ben Nienhuis, Oconomowoc, 36
  2. Ian Francis, Brookfield Academy, 27
  3. Alex Bray, Catholic Memorial, 22
  4. Mitchell Gnadt, Greendale, 20
  5. Johnny Duranso, Arrowhead, 20
  6. Conor Blount, Waukesha West, 20
  7. Jake Wiedower, St. Francis, 19
  8. Eric Zoeller, Homestead, 18
  9. Kyle Radavich, Whitnall, 17
  10. Ryan Nehls, Lake Country Lutheran, 16
  11. Nate Seymour, Germantown, 16
  12. Jake Fisher, Whitefish Bay, 16
  13. Ben Wachter, Franklin, 16

Receiving yards

  1. Zach Clayton, Oconomowoc, 1,075
  2. Austin Brault, Whtinall, 1,020
  3. Max Cooper, Catholic Memorial, 865
  4. Justin Peret, Arrowhead, 795
  5. Nic Smith, Whitnall, 791
  6. Bohan Lee, Greendale, 753
  7. Bradley Zachowski, Germantown, 724
  8. Nick Daniels, Waukesha West, 668
  9. Brett Samson, Oconomowoc, 663
  10. Ryan Kolasinski, Brookfield Academy, 638
  11. Kendall Gould, Waukesha North, 607
  12. Tyler Jones, Arrowhead, 598
  13. Darren Jozefiak, Cudahy, 549
  14. Troy Chmielewski, Oak Creek, 523
  15. Jack Popp, Homestead, 520

Receiving TDs

  1. Zach Clayton, Oconomowoc, 16
  2. Austin Brault, Whitnall, 14
  3. Max Cooper, Catholic Memorial, 14
  4. Bradley Zachowski, Germantown, 10
  5. Ethan Wegner, Oconomowoc, 10
  6. Bohan Lee, Greendale, 9
  7. Nick Daniels, Waukesha West, 9
  8. Jack Popp, Homestead, 8
  9. Kendall Gould, Waukesha North, 7
  10. Robbie Barth, Brookfield Academy, 7
  11. Ryan Kolasinski, Brookfield Academy, 7
  12. Mike Witterholt, St. Francis, 7
  13. Troy Chmielewski, Oak Creek, 7
  14. Jordan Canady, New Berlin Eisehower, 7
  • All statistics based JSOnline database powered by wissports.net. Coaches can report inaccurate statistics to jradcliffe@jrn.com for inclusion.
  • Find full coverage at LakeCountryNow.com for schools west of the NOW coverage area, including Arrowhead, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Sussex Hamilton, Mukwonago, Kettle Moraine, St. John's Northwestern Military Academy and Lake Country Lutheran.

 

BY THE NUMBERS


WIAA state titles

  • 6 Arrowhead (2013, 2012, 2007, 1996, 1994, 1993)
  • 4 Homestead (2012, 2008, 2006, 1999)
  • 2 Waukesha West (2010, 2004), Germantown (2003, 1998), New Berlin Eisenhower (1996, 1995)
  • 1 Catholic Memorial (2012), Franklin (2006), Mukwonago (2004), Cudahy (1994), Kettle Moraine (1988), Menomonee Falls (1976, as Falls East)

Runner-up finishes

  • 7 Arrowhead (2015, 2014, 2008, 2006, 2003, 2002, 2000)
  • 3 Catholic Memorial (2015, 2010, 2001), Brookfield Central (2006, 2002, 1999)
  • 2 Waukesha West (2015, 2014) , Greendale (2013, 2006), Menomonee Falls (2009, 1985), Oak Creek (1998, 1997), Germantown (1997, 1979), New Berlin Eisenhower (1989, 1986)
  • 1 Franklin (2013), Homestead (2007), St. Francis (2004), Sussex Hamilton (2000), Muskego (1994), Waukesha South (1989), New Berlin West (1988), Oconomowoc (1987),  Waukesha North (1983), Wauwatosa West (1982), Cudahy (1982)

Current streak of playoff berths (through 2015)

  • 20 Arrowhead
  • 17 Homestead
  • 15 Franklin
  • 11 Greendale, Pewaukee
  • 9 Catholic Memorial, Waukesha West, Whitefish Bay
  • 8 Lake Country Lutheran
  • 6 Brookfield Central, Brookfield East, Germantown
  • 5 Oak Creek
  • 3 Greenfield, University School
  • 2 Brookfield Academy, Muskego, St. Francis
  • 1 Cudahy, New Berlin Eisenhower, Oconomowoc, Wauwatosa West, Whitnall
  • 0 Brown Deer (last: 2014); Menomonee Falls (2014); Mukwonago (2014); South Milwaukee (2014); Sussex Hamilton (2014); Messmer/Shorweood (2013), New Berlin West (2013), St. Thomas More (2013), Martin Luther (2012), St. John's Northwestern (2012), Kettle Moraine (2008), West Allis Hale (2008), Wauwatosa East (2007), Waukesha North (2006), West Allis Central (2004), Waukesha South (1999), Nicolet (1989)

In the Rankings

A look at area teams in the state polls (2015)

Wisconsin State Coaches Poll (Week 8)

Division 1

2. Arrowhead (8-0)
3. Franklin (8-0)
5. Oconomowoc (8-0)
7. Muskego (7-1)

Division 2

4. Brookfield Central (7-1)
5. Homestead (6-2)
9. Waukesha West (6-2)

Division 3
6. Catholic Memorial (6-2)
8. New Berlin Eisenhower (7-1)

Associated Press Poll
(regular season)

Large Schools
2. Franklin (9-0)
4. Muskego (8-1)
5. Arrowhead (8-1)
10. Oconomowoc (9-0)
Others receiving votes: Waukesha West (7-2), Homestead (7-2)

Medium Schools
9. Catholic Memorial (7-2)