Ready for some football?
Season starts Aug. 16, 17
By Greg Seubert
It’s been almost nine months since the WIAA crowned seven state football championship teams at Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium.
Those seven championship games included two teams from the area. Amherst won its third straight Division 5 title with a 28-21 win over Lake Country Lutheran, while Iola-Scandinavia fell to St. Mary’s Springs 35-12 in the Division 6 game.
The road to Camp Randall officially begins Thursday, Aug. 16, with a handful of games, while most teams will open their season Friday, Aug. 17.
Area teams in action at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 include New London and Clintonville. New London will host Oconto Falls, while Clintonville will take on Fox Valley Lutheran in Kaukauna.
Meanwhile, Waupaca, Iola-Scandinavia, Manawa and Marion/Tigerton will kick off their season Aug. 17 with a 7 p.m. home game. Waupaca will host Menasha, Iola-Scandinavia will host Montello/Princeton Green Lake, Manawa will host Suring and Marion/Tigerton will face Northern Elite in Marion.
Three other teams will hit the road. Weyauwega-Fremont will travel to Reedsville, Wild Rose will take on Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh and Almond-Bancroft will head to Fall River.
Waupaca will compete in the Bay Conference and will face one of last year’s co-champions, Menasha, at Comet Field. The Bluejays handed the Comets a 21-0 defeat in last year’s opener.
Waupaca coach Tom Noltner is looking forward to the challenge.
“Menasha’s going to be one of the top teams in Division 2, but you have to play your schedule and it is what it is,” he said. “Each team will be learning and trying to find guys, so I think it’s great to start with them. It’s nice to play them right off the bat because they’re big, they’re physical. They’re going to show you that you have to come out and play. You can’t hold anything back. You have to pick it up because they are going to be good.”
Iola-Scandinavia opened the 20-17 season with a 41-14 win over Montello/Princeton/Green Lake and went on to post an 11-3 record.
“We add something new in every phase of the game,” coach Scott Erickson said. “There are always areas you can get better as coaches and players. You’re trying to cook something new up. You practice it and if it looks good, we’ll keep that in. If not, you throw it out. That’s how you try to get better every year. If you’re not trying new things, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.
“If you watch enough college, pro and high school football, somebody’s doing something different all the time,” he said. “That’s football and it changes every year.”
Here’s a look at some of the intriguing matchups this season for area teams:
• St. Mary’s Springs at Amherst, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24. The Falcons and Ledgers have played a nonconference game each year since 2015 and the fourth matchup includes the state’s only matchup of defending state champions. Springs have won the last two matchups – 14-13 last year and 20-17 in 2016 – and the Falcons picked up a 39-14 win the first time the teams met in 2015. Amherst went on to win a state championship each year.
• Iola-Scandinavia at Marathon, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24. The Thunderbirds defeated Marathon twice last year, 54-34 during the regular season and 32-12 in the third round of the state playoffs.
• New London at Waupaca, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. Parker Fermanich caught seven passes for three touchdowns a school-record 223 yards last year in New London’s 35-14 win over the Comets. The Bay Conference rivals will meet at Comet Field. Fermanich has graduated, but Waupaca’s defense will have to deal with Makaio Harn, expected to be one of the Bay’s top running backs this season.
• Weyauwega-Fremont vs. Pacelli at Goerke Field, Stevens Point, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Weyauwega-Fremont and Pacelli combined for only two wins last year. This season’s matchup of Central Wisconsin Large Conference teams will take place on the home field of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers.
• Waupaca at Xavier, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12. The Comets and Hawks will wrap up the regular season in Appleton. Xavier eliminated Waupaca from playoff contention last year with a 29-7 win.
• Iola-Scandinavia at Amherst, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12. The Falcons will host the Thunderbirds in a game that could decide this year’s Central Wisconsin Large Conference champion. Amherst handed the T-Birds a 32-14 loss last year. Both teams eventually played for a state championship.