Take a look back at the 2015 prep football season with the final version of "Push for the Playoffs."
Division 1 championship: Kimberly 49, Arrowhead 42
Arrowhead's entertaining playoff run reached a dramatic crescendo, but it didn't end the way the Warhawks wanted, with a 42-21 lead dissolving in the game's final 13 minutes against two-time defending state champion Kimberly. The Warhawks (12-2, 6-1 in Classic 8) nonetheless reached Camp Randall for the fourth straight year and remain a threat to do the same again next year. The team's win over Franklin will be part of the legendary playoff story.
Division 2 championship: Homestead 28, Waukesha West 12
The Highlanders (12-2, 6-1 in North Shore) captured their fifth state championship, riding an early 21-point attack and a drive that will live in history forever lasting just shy of 13 minutes to keep Waukesha West away from the football in the second half. For West (11-3, 5-2 in Classic 8), it meant a close call and a second consecutive silver ball.
Division 3 championship: Green Bay Notre Dame 19, Catholic Memorial 17
It was a heartbreaking conclusion for Memorial (11-3, 5-2 in Classic 8), which had a 17-14 lead and held the ball on the Notre Dame 3-yard line with just more than 4 minutes to play. But four interceptions by Notre Dame helped the Tritons steal away a game, with some nifty passes from quarterback Robert Petitjean helping the cause. It was the Crusaders' third state trip since 2010.
Franklin (12-1, 7-0 in Southeast). This might have been the best team ever at Franklin, even better than the squads that have reached the state-title games. All year, it looked like the Sabers were ticketed for the Division 1 final, but a stunning loss in an epic against Arrowhead kept them short. It will go down as a major disappointment for Franklin, even as it goes down as one of the great games in playoff history. Pictured: Gavin Boeck
Brookfield East (10-2, 6-1 in Greater Metro). Led by running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd and quarterback T.C. Swittel, the Spartans had a tremendous year, topping Greater Metro champ Brookfield Central in Level 2 before falling to the Homestead juggernaut in Level 3.
Muskego (10-2, 6-1 in Classic 8). The Warriors ran into the Franklin buzzsaw in Level 3 but still had a fantastic year, featuring a Classic 8 co-championship with Arrowhead and an uplifting win over AHS to close the regular season.
Oconomowoc (11-1, 8-0 in Wisconsin Little Ten). 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. Even without an appearance in Level 4, it could be perhaps the best season in program history.
Brookfield Central (9-2, 7-0 in Greater Metro). Falling in an epic befitting a crosstown clash between the two best teams in the Greater Metro, Central's season came to an end in overtime against Brookfield East. Central emerges from 2015 as GMC champ.
Lake Country Lutheran (9-2, 7-0 in Midwest Classic). Lake Country Lutheran suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime to Cambridge, edged in overtime on a field goal by the seventh seed in a tough Division 6 bracket. LCL can still call the Midwest Classic title its own in 2015.
Oak Creek (8-3, 5-2 in Southeast). The Knights made it interesting by taking a 14-3 lead on Muskego, but the vaunted Warriors attack ultimately pulled away in a Division 1 clash.
Whitnall (6-5, 4-3 in Woodland East). Whitnall did what it could against undefeated Kewaskum in the second round but fell short. The Falcons were the final Woodland team left standing.
Brookfield Academy (7-3, 4-2 in Midwest Classic). The Blue Knights closed the year on the wrong side of a lopsided outcome against Shoreland Lutheran in Level 1 of the Division 5 playoffs.
Cudahy (4-6, 3-3 in Woodland East. The Packers got a chance to taste the playoffs, but it was a short-lived visit against powerhouse Catholic Memorial.
Germantown (6-4, 5-2 in North Shore). In the regular season, Germantown got the best of Homestead, but in the playoffs, it was another matter as the North Shore teams continued their season rivalries into a crowded bracket of the Division 2 playoffs.
Greendale (6-4, 6-1 in Woodland West). The Panthers had an up-and-down year, starting 0-2 before running through the Woodland West, then falling in the final two games of the season. A lopsided setback against Wilmot capped an unusual year for the perennial power.
Greenfield (7-3, 5-2 in Woodland East). Young and very optimistic about what's ahead, Greenfield couldn't find its footing on a rainy Level 1 evening and fell to Union Grove in an upset by the seventh-seeded Broncos. The excellent 2015 featured a Woodland Conference title, however.
New Berlin Eisenhower (8-2, 6-1 in Woodland West). 2015 marked the return of the Eisenhower program to prominence, with an excellent 8-1 showing in the regular season. Wisconsin Lutheran, seeded unusually low as a No. 7 seed, plotted an early exit for the Lions from the playoffs.
Pewaukee (5-5, 3-3 in Woodland West). The Pirates weren't their typical dominant selves this year, and though they held fairly close to Evansville/Albany in Week 1, there will be better years ahead for a program that hasn't missed the playoffs in more than a decade.
St. Francis (8-2, 6-1 in Midwest Classic). A spectacular year for running back Evander Craft (2,207 yards rushing) came to an end in the first round of the playoffs against Whitnall. 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.
University School (5-5, 4-3 in Midwest Classic). The Wildcats had the misfortune of drawing top seed Cedar Grove-Belgium in Level 1 of the playoffs and fell by a 38-0 count.
Wauwatosa West (7-3, 4-2 in Woodland West. The first round of the playoffs was a Southern Lakes-Woodland battle, and it was the Southern Lakes that came out on top with wins in all three meetings between the two leagues. Waterford proved to be too much for the Trojans (while Wilmot beat Greendale and Union Grove topped Greenfield).
Whitefish Bay (6-4, 5-2 in North Shore): A motivated Brookfield East team and running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd were too much to handle in Level 1, bringing to end an emotional season that featured a share of the North Shore title.
Brown Deer (2-7, 1-5 in Woodland East): Brown Deer never could get on track this season after graduating state Player of the Year Zach Baun.
Dominican (3-6, 2-5 in Midwest Classic): The Knights took down St. Thomas More on Oct. 9 to record their second league victory, but they have still never been to the playoffs.
Kettle Moraine (3-6, 2-5 in Classic 8): Kettle Moraine needed some upset magic that never came in the loaded Classic 8 this season, and a loss to Waukesha West in Week 8 eliminated the Lasers.
Martin Luther (4-5, 3-4 in Metro Classic): It just didn't come together for Martin Luther, which needed a win in its final three games to advance into the playoffs, but the tough late-season schedule of Racine St. Catherine's, Kenosha St. Joseph and Shoreland Lutheran kept the Spartans out.
Menomonee Falls (3-6, 3-4 in Greater Metro): Falls lost the game it had to have in an upset loss against West Allis Hale on Oct. 9, and it couldn't stage an upset against league-leading Brookfield Central. The loss of quarterback Bryce McMurtry was a huge blow for the Indians' chances.
Messmer/Shorewood (3-6, 2-4 in Woodland East): The Greyhounds fell to Pewaukee by a 35-0 count in a win-or-go-home battle to close the regular season, bringing a roller-coaster season to a close.
Mukwonago (4-5, 3-4 in Classic 8): Mukwonago was this year's Classic 8 victim, a team that could probably make noise in the playoffs but couldn't break through a loaded conference. The loss to Catholic Memorial on Week 8 sealed the Indians' postseason fate.
New Berlin West (2-7, 2-5 in Woodland West): Though eliminated, West grabbed its first win of the year by downing Cudahy on Oct. 9, then followed up with a victory over Brown Deer on Oct. 16.
Nicolet (0-9, 0-7 in North Shore): The Knights did not record a win but got back on the field after dropping varsity football last year.
South Milwaukee (4-5, 2-4 in Woodland East): After back-to-back wins resuscitated the Rockets, a loss to Cudahy in Week 7 was extremely damaging to their prospects. A loss to Tosa West in Week 9 sealed their fate.
St. John's Northwestern (2-7, 1-6 in Midwest Classic): The Lancers closed the year with a Midwest Classic victory over Living Word Lutheran.
St. Thomas More (1-8, 1-6 in Metro Classic): The Cavs went winless in Metro Classic play last year and remain on a rebuilding course, though they did close the season with a win over Racine Lutheran.
Sussex Hamilton (3-6, 3-4 in Greater Metro): Hamilton has won all the games it "should" have, but to make the playoffs, it needed an upset over Brookfield East, and it didn't happen.
Waukesha South (1-8, 0-7 in Classic 8): South's loss to North marked the official end of the playoff journey, but after showing well against teams like Oconomowoc and Mukwonago, there's no question this squad has the pieces to be a good football team.
Wauwatosa East (0-9, 0-7 in Greater Metro): East just hasn't been able to deliver victories in recent years of Greater Metro play.
West Allis Central (2-7, 1-6 in Greater Metro): There are brighter times ahead for the Bulldogs, but Year One of the Keith Ringelberg rebuild will not include the playoffs.
West Allis Hale (3-6, 3-4 in Greater Metro): Hale notched wins in Week 7 and Week 8 to stay alive, including a surprising victory over Menomonee Falls that put the Huskies within a breath of the playoffs. But Hale couldn't topple Marquette to get that fourth GMC victory.
Asking area football coaches their anonymous thoughts on the greater issues of coaching at the prep level:
What's the one thing that would make your job easier as a head football coach?
Coach 1: Less paperwork and administrative duties. At some point, a forward-thinking school district that recognizes the school-wide impact of a well-run football team will implement built-in duty time (during the school day) for football responsibilities. This will be done in season, if not year round.
Coach 2: More coaches in the building. It’s tough to run a program being the only football coach on your staff who teaches.
Coach 3: No last-minute surprises.
Coach 4: We encourage our QBs to think creatively within our offense, as we find it engages them with our concepts. Every now and then, one of them will come up with a play that really is a solid addition, and we aren’t afraid to use it.
Coach 5: Less paper work, less outside stuff. I find I spend less time with kids than I used to. More assistant coaches would be great.
Coach 6: More teachers on staff and thus more assistant coaches who were more connected to the kids and program year-round.
Coach 7: A phenomenal and trustworthy equipment manager.
Coach 8: A bigger budget for operating costs and some more linemen body types.
Photo by Associated Press
Waukesha West's Peter MacCudden gets past Homestead's Jack Popp to score a touchdown during the third quarter of the WIAA Division 2 state championship game Nov. 20. Homestead still won the game, 28-12, for its fifth state title.
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
How well do you now Wisconsin prep football? Take our specially-crafted Sporcle challenges to find out.
WIAA state titles
Current streak of playoff berths (through 2015)
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.
Sports director JR Radcliffe and Time Warner Sports Channel's JP Cadorin discuss local sports. Latest episode: The Initial Reaction guys discuss Jonathan Lucroy explaining that he and the Brewers would be better off if Lucroy were playing elsewhere. Also discussed: final morsels from the WIAA controversy, a post mortem on the Green Bay Packers and a New Berlin Eisenhower team that might very well be the best D2 boys basketball squad in the state.
Mark Stewart and JR Radcliffe discuss high school sports in this weekly video.
Waukesha West (10-2)
Catholic Memorial (10-2)
Others receiving consideration: Brookfield East (10-2), Muskego (10-2), Oconomowoc (11-1)
(updated Nov. 8)
Bite-sized tidbits on area high-school football within the Lake Country and Now Newspapers coverage zone.
Johnny Duranso racked up a state-record yardage total and would have been the biggest reason why Arrowhead won its seventh state title had Kimberly not staged a furious rally to defeat Arrowhead, 49-42.
Test your knowledge of the high school football rule book with help from Patrick Miles, a member of the Executive Board of the Milwaukee Officials Association and an official who has worked WIAA state championships, the NCAA Division III national championship and other NCAA contests, including the Big Ten.
Scenario: A forward pass from Team A is intercepted by Team B on its own 2-yard line. The defensive back then retreats into his end zone trying to elude defenders, and the referee blows an inadvertent whistle. Who gets the ball and where?
(records portrayed are league, overall)
|West Allis Hale||3||4||3||6|
|West Allis Central||1||6||2||7|
|Kenosha Indian Trail||5||2||5||5|
|New Berlin Eisenhower||5||1||8||2|
|New Berlin West||1||5||2||7|
|West Bend East||1||6||2||7|
|West Bend West||0||7||2||7|
|Lake Country Lutheran||7||0||9||2|
|Kenosha Christian Life||3||4||4||5|
|Living Word Lutheran||0||7||1||8|
|Kenosha St. Joseph||6||1||6||4|
|Racine St. Catherine's||4||3||6||5|
|St. Thomas More||1||6||1||8|
2015 state championships
Area statistical leaders (final)
A look at area teams in the state polls:
Wisconsin State Coaches Poll (Week 8)
2. Arrowhead (8-0)
3. Franklin (8-0)
5. Oconomowoc (8-0)
7. Muskego (7-1)
4. Brookfield Central (7-1)
5. Homestead (6-2)
9. Waukesha West (6-2)
6. Catholic Memorial (6-2)
8. New Berlin Eisenhower (7-1)
Associated Press Poll (regular season)
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)
9. Catholic Memorial (7-2)
Oconomowoc’s Brett Samson, ranked No. 2 at 220 pounds by wiwrestling.com, is looking up at Menomonie senior Mason Stokke, who cruised to the Division 1 195-pound state championship last year with a 44-0 record and carries the No. 1 ranking at 220 this year.