(All games 7 p.m. Friday)
GAME OF THE WEEK
Madison West (9-2) at Sun Prairie (11-0)
Coach Brian Kaminski’s unbeaten Cardinals are on a roll, forcing a running clock in their first two playoff games — bringing the total to seven games in which Sun Prairie invoked the “mercy rule” by building a second-half lead of at least 35 points. Last week, Wales Sun Prairie took a 38-0 lead before Wales Kettle Moraine scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it a 38-14 final.
On the season, Sun Prairie has outscored opponents by an average of 39.7-5.5 points per game and outgaining them by an average of 317 yards to 135 yards per game. The defense has produced 37 takeaways, including 24 interceptions — six by senior Kaden Kauppinen and four by senior Caden White. On offense, senior quarterback Jack Zander has thrown for 1,543 yards and 24 TDs, and senior Draven Peeples has averaged 105 yards rushing per game with 13 TDs.
A victory would send Sun Prairie to the semifinal round for the first time since its runner-up finish in 2012. West hasn’t made it to the semifinals since earning a runner-up finish in 1981.
West played host to Sun Prairie on Sept. 28 and suffered a 37-7 loss, falling behind 37-0 after three quarters as Zander passed for 197 yards and Peeples ran for 114. The Regents were held to 200 yards of offense.
However, All-City Coach of the Year Brad Murphy’s Regents also were handed a running-clock loss by Middleton during the regular season, but West bounced back to avenge that loss with a 30-27 victory last week. Senior quarterback Keishawn Shanklin rushed for a 1-yard TD with 15 seconds remaining to close out the back-and-forth game. Shanklin ran for 145 yards and threw for 105 in the victory. Senior running back Jaden Stephens has rushed for 913 yards on the year, and senior linebacker David Maravilla has 149 tackles, 10 for loss.
GAMES TO WATCH
Waukesha West (11-0) at Monona Grove (11-0)
The Wolverines hit the road with a chip on their shoulders, smarting at their No. 2 seeding in their quadrant of the Division 2 bracket. Never mind that Monona Grove beat West in a wild, 43-42 overtime battle last year and finished as state runner-up (after winning it all in 2013), and that both teams marched through this regular season unbeaten.
West also has some points to make: Coach Steve Rux’s Wolverines were state runners-up in 2014 and 2015 and navigated what some call the state’s toughest conference, the Classic 8. After a 21-20 win over Wales Kettle Moraine in the opener, no one has come within 13 points of West, which averages 38 points and allows 8.9.
Monona Grove’s leader for the last two-plus seasons has been 6-3, 180-pound senior quarterback Alec Ogden, who has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 2,569 yards and 32 touchdowns with five interceptions. Ogden also has rushed for 658 yards and 12 more scores. For his career, Ogden has thrown for 6,326 yards and 75 TDs and rushed for 1,235 yards and 18 more scores.
But West also features a leading candidate for state Player of the Year honors in senior Peter MacCudden, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound running back/linebacker (and son of a West assistant coach) who has rushed for 1,874 yards and 26 touchdowns and completed three passes, each for a TD. MacCudden also has 35 tackles and a fumble recovery.
But these aren’t one-man programs. Monona Grove senior running back Jackson Thomsen has come on strong as of late to rack up 1,466 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns. MG junior linebacker Trenton Herber leads the defense with 95 tackles.
West sophomore quarterback Brooks Blount has thrown for 1,030 yards and 12 TDs, and senior linebacker Hunter Albanese leads the defense with 88 tackles, 12 for loss.
Hartford (9-2) at Waunakee (11-0)
It’s tough to make it to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs without a solid resume, and coach John Redders’ Hartford Orioles have the goods. In its first year as a North Shore Conference member, Hartford lost regular-season tests to Port Washington and Mequon Homestead, but beat a strong Menasha team in overtime, 31-28, in last week’s Division 2 second-round game.
Hartford senior quarterback Tristan Bradley has completed 55.7 percent of his passes for 1,751 yards and 15 TDs, with eight interceptions. Senior running back Logan Broker has rushed for 919 yards and 12 scores, and senior linebacker Myles Zimdars has produced 77 tackles for a defense that has yielded just 15.2 points and 227 yards per game.
Waunakee has crushed every opponent in its path so far, averaging 51.8 points and 388 yards per game on offense and yielding 5.0 points and 147 yards per game. Coach Pat Rice’s defense has allowed 10 total points over the last five games, with three shutouts in that run (five overall).
Senior Javian Dayne has rushed for 1,778 yards and 26 TDs on an 8.5-yard average, and senior quarterback Nate Carter has thrown for 1,647 yards (at a 66 percent clip) with 21 TDs and six interceptions. Senior Lucas Statz, the Badger North Conference defensive player of the year, leads the defense with 72 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, and three fumble recoveries (two have been returned for touchdowns) and four interceptions.
Lake Mills (10-1) at Lodi (11-0)
The teams’ first meeting, a Capitol North Conference battle in Week Five, resulted in a 55-24 Lodi victory — and a game film that has undoubtedly been picked to pieces by both coaching staffs, looking to gain or keep the advantages that paid off the first time.
Lodi opened a 35-17 halftime lead in that first meeting, and then blew it out to 55-17 with three TDs in the third quarter. Jacob Heyroth rushed for 260 yards and five touchdowns, and Mitch Nellen had an 84-yard TD run. On the season, Heyroth has rushed for 2,225 yards (10.4 yards per carry) and 30 TDs, and quarterback Cameron McDonald has thrown for 928 yards and 14 scores. Lodi has outscored its opponents by an average of 41.5-11.4 and outgained them by an average of 386 yards to 192 yards per game. The offense has powered to 3,298 yards rushing with 45 TDs on a 7.6-yard average per carry.
The teams’ first meeting marked the only time all season that Lake Mills senior quarterback Ben Dunkleberger, senior wide receiver Hayden Iverson and the rest of the L-Cats didn’t completely control their opponent. Aside from that loss, Lake Mills has averaged 42.1 points per game while allowing 15.7.
Dunkleberger has thrown for 2,689 yards and 36 touchdowns (with seven interceptions, including one returned for a TD by Lodi senior Dominic Scola). Dunkleberger also leads the L-Cats with 1,396 yards rushing and 23 more TDs. Iverson has broken the state’s single-season record for touchdown catches with 27 (and 1,562 yards on a yards-per-catch average of 20.8). Senior lineman Richard Proefrock leads the squad with 96 tackles (six for loss), and Iverson has 90 at defensive back.
Mineral Point (9-2) at Markesan (10-1)
Coach Andy Palzkill’s Division 6 Pointers have picked up steam as the season has progressed, beating SWAL champion Cuba City 14-7 last week to avenge a 36-7 loss to the Cubans during the regular season. Point’s special teams provided the turning point, as senior Riley Workman returned a blocked kick 75 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown — after Workman ran 20 yards for the tying score earlier in the fourth. Workman has 1,243 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on the year. Sophomore quarterback Isaac Lindsey has shown off his pure athletic talents for Point, throwing for 1,845 yards and 20 TDs (on a 61.1 percent clip) and rushed for 528 yards and 11 scores.
Markesan, champion of the Trailways Large Conference, has defeated SWAL members Darlington (44-14) and Fennimore (15-7) in its first two playoff games, extending its winning streak to 10 after a season-opening, 35-0 loss to the potential next opponent of Friday’s winner, Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs. Coach Travis Winkers’ Hornets have held opponents to averages of 13.3 points and 196 yards per game. Senior Carson Clark has thrown for 1,859 yards and 28 TDs and rushed for a team-high 880 yards and five scores.