2017 WIAA Football Championships Recap

Game Recap from November 16-17

Jason Zaleski – 2017 was a fun and exciting year of football in Wisconsin high schools all across the state. It all began in weight rooms, gymnasiums, and the fresh cut grass fields in hot, humid July. For some freshmen, it was their first year playing varsity football. Sophomores and Juniors had been through these hot summer practices before. Seniors were, for the last time, wiping blades of grass from their arms while sweat dripped from their nose.

As the summer heat quickly turned to October playoff positioning, teams from all over the state had their sights set on Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. As has become custom in our state, the Wisconsin Badgers football team relinquishes their home stadium to championship seekers for a Thursday and Friday Gold Ball championship bonanza.

Division 1 was a story that many across Wisconsin and the country have heard before. The Kimberly Papermakers made their way to a fifth consecutive state championship victory with a 27-7 win over Sun Prairie. The Papermakers have now won seven championships in the last 11 seasons. The seven titles ties the Papermakers for the most all-time, equaling Lancaster, Stratford, Edgar and St. Mary’s Springs. Kimberly has also won 70 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country.

Waunakee outlasted Brookfield Central, 14-13 in the Division 2 contest. Javion Dayne, son of Wisconsin Badger great Ron Dayne, scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The second of the two touchdowns came with 5:24 left in the game. The dramatic win for Waunakee gave them a perfect 14-0 season and they were rewarded with their sixth WIAA football Gold Ball trophy.

In Division 3, Rice Lake bested New Berlin, 25-3. The Rice Lake Warriors were propelled by a running attack that produced 325 yards. The ground game advantage lead to an impressive time of possession victory, over 36 of the 48 game minutes belonged to the Warriors. The New Berlin Lions could only muster eight first downs, punting often to Rice Lake. Rice Lake won their first title since 1979.

The only overtime game in 2017 featured the Blue Devils of Lodi and the Panthers of St Croix Central. As you would expect in a close game, the two teams went to half-time, tied at seven. With the second half temperature below the freezing mark, both teams were nearly frozen on the scoreboard as each put field goals up and thru to leave the game tied 10-10 at the end of regulation. Jacob Heyroth, who had 151 of the Blue Devils 171 total yards scored the only overtime tally as Lodi beat St Croix Central 17-10. Lodi took home their first ever Gold Ball.

Division 5 gave central Wisconsin football fans a familiar name in Amherst as the Falcons took on the Lake Country Lutheran Lightening. Earlier in these 2017 playoffs, Amherst easily cruised past the Spencer/Columbus Rockets and the Stratford Tigers on their way to Madison. The Falcons came to find out they had a more feisty opponent in this game as the Lightening took a 3rd quarter lead, 21-14, with a Ethan Wilkins to Michael Schumaker touchdown pass, their second hookup of the game. It was at that point when we saw Amherst senior quarterback, Marcus Glodowski, make the game his. Just a minute and 39 seconds later, Glodowski scored the game tying touchdown. With 6:52 left in the game again it was Glodowski scoring the touchdown on a 5 yard run. The final Glodowski touchdown proved to be the game winner as Glodowski, now on defense, sealed the game 3 minutes later with an interception. Glodowski finished the game with four touchdowns, 269 rushing yards and the game clinching theft. With the 28-21 win over Lake Country Lutheran, Amherst won their third straight and fourth of the past six division five WIAA championships.

Just a few miles to the east of Amherst, the Iola-Scandinavia Thunderhawks also made noise in the 2017 WIAA football playoff scene. The Thunderhawks took on the Ledgers of St Mary Springs (Fond Du Lac) who came into the championship game with a perfect 13-0 mark. Iola-Scandinavia saw themselves with a 12-7 second quarter lead after a seven yard touchdown from Bryce Huettner. St Mary’s did all the scoring from that point, 28 consecutive and evenly produced with two passing scores and two running tally’s. This was the seventh state championship for the Ledgers, keeping pace with Kimberly and catching Lancaster, Stratford and Edgar in the seven win club.

Division 7 pitted the Bangor Cardinals and the Black Hawk Warriors. These two schools likely got to know the turf at Camp Randall Stadium more than any of the other 12 WIAA participants as they ran for a combined 601 rushing yards, a division 7 championship record. Brody Mills went over the century mark for the Warriors with 117 yards while Cardinals, Luke Reader and Carter Horstman, had 185 and 144 respectively. Bangor, who beat Edgar and Abbotsford on their way to Madison, had only a 16-14 advantage with 8:58 left in the third quarter. A Horstman touchdown later in the third and 1:21 into the fourth quarter put the Cardinals up 29-14. Just over 5 minutes later, Bangor’s Luke Reader, put the game away for good with a 9 yard touchdown scamper. On defense, Horstman also led the team with 16 tackles as the Cardinals tackled their second Gold Ball.