Friday night lights, watch to watch for and where to watch
SPORTSDESK – With only two weeks of the WIAA high school football season left we still have much to settle. Around the state, 28 teams have their eyes on the prize of a WIAA Gold Ball trophy that only 7 of them will be able to earn. The trophies will be earned, starting with the Division 7 championship game that takes place on November 16th at 10am and concludes with the Division 1 championship game slated for November 17th at 4pm. All games take place at Camp Randall Stadium located within the campus of the University of Wisconsin.
Starting with the aforementioned Division 7, the Abbotsford Falcons are still in the hunt for their own gold ball. The Falcons will travel to Chippewa Falls, as a result of their Level 3 dispatching of Clear Lake 50-14, to take on the Bangor Cardinals of the Scenic Bluffs Conference.
The Cardinals won a state championship in 2015 and were in this same Level 4 spot last year, losing to the eventual champion Edgar Wildcats 29-6. Abbotsford also made the Level 4 achievement in 2016, as a Division 6 participant, before losing in the semi-final game vs Eau Claire Regis 22-14. One of these teams is guaranteed to move past Level 4 in 2017, positioning themselves just 48 minutes from hoisting the championship gold ball in Madison.
In Division 5, the Amherst Falcons will meet up with the Grantsburg Pirates at Forward Financial Field in Stanley, WI. Grantsburg was a #1 seed in the 2016 Division 6 bracket and eventually lost in a Level 3 thriller vs Eau Claire Regis, 21-20. Grantsburg has won the Lakeland North Conference 3 consecutive years and is looking to advance to the state championship game for the first time in their 101 year football history. As a #1 seed in 2017, the Pirates took down Elk Mound 40-7 in Level 3 to earn this Level 4 game. The situation in Amherst is just a bit different as the Falcons have won the state title 3 times, including 2015 and 2016. The Falcons are again primed for a state championship, what would be their 3rd straight, in 2017.
Averaging over 51 points per game as a #2 seed in this year’s playoffs, they will be a tough a test as the Pirates will have faced all season. As part of the Falcon scorched earth formula, they beat red-hot Stratford in Level 3, 52-15. This just a week after cooling the Spencer/Columbus Rockets by a score of 49-18.
As for Division 1, dare we say that things have become a bit mundane and even boring? The Kimberly Papermakers have made things, while successful for them, very ordinary for everybody else since winning state championships in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. During that same stretch it hasn’t been enough for the Papermakers to win the championships, which for some would be extreme excitement. Nope, the Kimberly boys decided along the way to win 68 consecutive games. Losing has been said to make winning even that much more enjoyable, perhaps Kimberly hasn’t reached the high spot of happiness during this run without a loss and a loss at this point would assuredly bring great disappointment in Kimberly as it would preclude them from their 5th straight gold ball.
Their Level 4 competitors this year, the Appleton North Lightening, likely needs to catch lightening in a bottle to jolt their way past Kimberly to Madison. That isn’t to say it’s not at all possible, after all, Appleton North came within 7 points vs Kimberly back in a September regular season contest. They have also pushed the scoreboard to near 50 points in each of their 3 playoff games in these 2017 playoffs. Titan Stadium in Oshkosh, WI will be the battleground for this contest.