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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chats with JR about Wisconsin high school alumni looking to make the Packers, including intriguing safety Marwin Evans, as well as now-released punter Peter Mortell and offensive lineman Kyle Steuck. Chuck Delsman of Lake Country Publications swings by to talk about the big upset of Week 2 prep football, top-ranked Arrowhead falling to Hudson. JR's daughter, Lydia, makes her flustered podcast debut.
Waukesha West (10-2)
Catholic Memorial (10-2)
Others receiving consideration: Brookfield East (10-2), Muskego (10-2), Oconomowoc (11-1)
(updated Nov. 8, 2015)
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.
(records portrayed are league, overall)
|West Allis Hale||0||0||1||1|
|West Allis Central||0||0||1||1|
|Kenosha Indian Trail||0||0||1||1|
|New Berlin Eisenhower||0||0||1||1|
|New Berlin West||0||0||1||1|
|West Bend East||0||0||0||2|
|West Bend West||0||0||0||2|
|Lake Country Lutheran||0||0||2||0|
|Living Word Lutheran||0||0||1||1|
|Kenosha Christian Life||0||0||0||2|
|Kenosha St. Joseph||0||0||1||1|
|Racine St. Catherine's||0||0||1||1|
|St. Thomas More||0||0||0||2|
Thursday, Aug. 18
Friday, Aug. 19
Area statistical leaders (2015 final)
WIAA state titles
Current streak of playoff berths (through 2015)
A look at area teams in the state polls (2015)
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)