Hopefully I can get a few of these out over the next few weeks. As of now, the only ones I definitely plan to do are the Metro Classic and Woodland.
2018 Record: 3-6 (2-5)
Notable Losses: RB/LB Cade Dirksmeyer, OL/DL/PK Simon Pedone, RB/DL Tristan Welka, OL/DL Tyler Shaw, QB/DB Todd Suchomel, RB/LB Payton Meinholz
Notable Returnees: OL/DL Chas Miles (Sr.), OL/LB Bennett Robson (Sr.) WR/LB David Doerflinger (Sr.), RB/LB Reid Muellenbach (Jr.), WR/DB Brandon Pum (Sr.), OL/DL Matt McDonald (Sr.)
Outlook: A return to some level of competitiveness in 2018 for the Hilltoppers, but still miles from their former perch atop the league. Gazing at the roster I’m expecting something similar (unless they have some surprises in the sophomore and/or freshman classes). The ‘toppers will undoubtedly be well-disciplined and run their stuff, but a lack of size and more importantly from their standpoint, a lack of speed/athleticism will make it hard to jump up in a conference whose top teams are still rife with both. I still wouldn’t put a playoff appearance totally out of reach, but they will have to spring a surprise along the way.
2018 Record: 6-4 (4-3)
Notable Losses: QB/DB Bo Bennett, TE/DL Drew Dlugopolski, OL/DL Christian Vega, RB/DB Ethan Lee
Notable Returnees: WR/DB Sean Dlugopolski (Sr.), OL/DL Ben Jelacic (Sr.), RB/DB Phillip Jones (Sr.), TE/DL Delone Austin (Jr.), RB/LB Justin Daniels (Sr.), WR/DB Eferin Burns (Jr.), WR/DB Lee Barnes (Jr.), RB/DB Jeremy Timmons (Jr.), QB/DB Ian Stefaniak (So.)
Outlook: Dominican again returns a healthy dose of contributors from the previous year, but likely faces an uphill climb for a playoff berth despite qualifying a year ago, based on the loss of several key linemen and four-year starter at QB Bo Bennett, and their constant problem of numbers, which means injuries have to be kept at a minimum. That said, if young QB Ian Stefaniak can handle the passing load and he gets some protection up front (a problem at times a year ago), he has the weapons to cause trouble. This, I believe, is the last hurrah for the Dlugopolski and Jelacic legacies at Dominican, and as they have been major catalysts in the resurgence of Dominican football, you do wonder if maybe they have one more run up their sleeve.
Kenosha St. Joseph
2018 Record: 4-5 (3-4)
Notable Losses: WR/LB Adam Antonneau, OL/LB John Laken, OL/RB/LB Logan Staples
Notable Returnees: QB/DB Jake Gessert (Sr.), OL/DL Kyle Matrise (Sr.), PK/WR Patrick Connolly (Sr.), QB/DB Jacob Ashmus (So.), QB/DB Max McCarville (So.), RB/LB John Skurski (So.), WR/DB Jack Davidson (So.), WR/DB Braedon Peterson (Jr.), RB/LB Anthony Scroggins (Jr.)
Outlook: The Lancers enter 2019 with yet another new coach looking to build on a bit of a somewhat tumultuous and underwhelming 2018. The good news is that they are bringing back a ton of experience, the bad news, perhaps, is that a lot of it is still pretty green, and third-year starter at QB Jake Gessert has battled injuries his whole career, which have limited his effectiveness. The Lancers will have to find some line depth, but they will have plenty to choose from at the skill positions and defensively. I wonder if one of the sophomore QBs takes over permanently and Gessert moves elsewhere on offense? Beyond the top two, the Metro should be a little more open, but I’m still not sold the Lancers can make that breakthrough, especially after betting on them last year.
2018 Record: 10-2 (6-1)
Notable Losses: RB/DB Darios Crawley-Reid, RB/LB Bryce Kulinski, WR/LB Brad Kulinski, TE/LB Brody Lee, QB/DB Nik Mueller, OL/DL Nate Crawley, OL/DL Collin Zielinski, WR/LB Josiah Peterson, WR/DL Noah Miller
Notable Returnees: OL/DL Michael Strohmeyer (Sr.), OL/DL Michael Feist (Sr.), WR/DB Jacob Hartlaub (Jr.), RB/LB Fred Guydon (Jr.), WR/DB Sylvere Campbell (Jr.), QB/DB Brody Hoppert (Jr.)
Outlook: Another banner year for the Spartans ended in Level 3 at the hands of St. Catherine’s, and while the core of that highly successful group moves on, the cupboard is not entirely bare…to say nothing of the winning culture now teeming through the halls of that school over by Southridge. So while Martin Luther likely bows out of the title race this year, they still are the likely third-place team in this league. Guydon will never replace Crawley-Reid but should be able to find yardage behind a line that returns at least a couple starters. Meanwhile Hoppert is the coach’s son (and a coach who played QB at La Crosse) and has the pedigree to step up and fill Mueller’s shoes. What Martin Luther does now that the 2019 class is gone will be one of the more fascinating narratives in SE Wisconsin this season. Are they here to stay? I’m inclined to say yes.
2018 Record: 11-3 (5-2)
Notable Losses: QB/DB Colton Kraus (Sr.), WR/DB James Wilson (Sr.), OL/DL Alex Schulz (Sr.), TE/DE Elijah Solis (Sr.), WR/DB Josh Hess (Sr.)
Notable Returnees: RB/DB Tyler Tenner (Sr.), OL/DL/PK David Voss (Sr.), RB/LB Jaylen Houston (Sr.), OL/DL Seth Hultman (So.), RB/DB Nolan Kraus (Jr.)
Outlook: The D6 runners-up lose five key players, but no one is weeping for them as they return the bulk of their lines and of course, arguably the best small-school RB tandem in the state in Tenner and Houston. Who steps in at QB is of some question (the younger Kraus?), but regardless, RaLu will be able to ground-and-pound teams until they say uncle. As of now they are the favorite to get back to the D6 title game out of the south, but will they be physical enough for the representative from the north? That was ultimately the difference last year. As always, cutline watch is in effect with RaLu creeping ever-so-close to the “traditional” D5 line, to say nothing of who may, or may not fall into D6.
Racine St. Catherine’s
2018 Record: 14-0 (7-0)
Notable Losses: QB/DB Da’Shaun Brown (Sr.), WR/DB Rashid Poole (Sr.), OL/DL Timmy Carthron (Sr.), OL/DL Guy Van Dis (Sr.), OL/DL Gavin Moriarity (Sr.), FB/LB D.J. Carter (Sr.), OL/DL Adrian Garcia (Sr.), TE/DB Luke Letsch (Sr.), WR/DB Azarien Stephens (Sr.), TE/LB Aleks Haeuser (Sr.)
Notable Returnees: RB/DB Isaiah Dodd (Sr.), FB/LB Anthony Cable (Sr.), QB/LB Brian Sharp (Sr.), QB/DB Keenan Carter (Jr.), RB/LB Aundre Hale (Sr.), RB/LB Demarion Cobb (Jr.), RB/LB Gavin Grudnowski (Jr.)
Outlook: Well, it finally happened. The moment St. Catherine’s had been building toward for several years happened as Da’Shaun Brown converted a two-point conversion very late in the D4 title game and the Angels defeated St. Croix Central, 8-7. However, as summer begins to head toward fall, the euphoria of winning it all must turn to replacing that incredible senior class. And while 90% (or something like it) of the team’s production last year has moved on, don’t expect the Angels to fall off too far. They must replace a phenomenal offensive line, but the program has been churning out depth (and size) at that spot for years now and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. What will be interesting is to see how much is expected out of Carter at the QB spot. Brown was Mr. Everything back there. The positive is that he has Dodd and Cobb (2,100+ yards a year ago) to hand off too, which will ease the pressure. Expect RSC to fall back on defense a bit but nothing too drastic. There is the unknown of what they will be getting from the incoming sophomore class as they were so deep last year; they for the first time in a long time had no frosh on the varsity. That September 28th Saturday afternoon showdown at Horlick Field vs. RaLu oughta be fun.
Saint Thomas More
2018 Record: 0-9 (0-7)
Notable Losses: RB/LB Eric Williams, RB/DB Matt Wejrowski, RB/LB E.J. Holley, OL/DL Jorge Montanez, OL/LB Steven Ramirez, OL/DL Michael Niemi
Notable Returnees: QB/DB Brett Boelkow (Jr.), RB/LB Michael Bell (Jr.), OL/DL Ron Wielebski (Jr.)
Outlook: After going 0-9 and being outscored 367-62 (also generating only roughly 1,000 yards of total offense), there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Right? Well…the problem with that idea is that the Cavaliers are losing nearly every impact player they had, starting (and pretty much ending, if we’re being truthful) with Eric Williams, who accounted for over 60% of the offense’s production himself and added 800 return yards and a couple scores to boot there as well. You hope they put the work in, and that they retain the good numbers they’ve had in the 2021 and 2022 classes to offset a tiny 2020 class, and maybe that continuity leads to improvement. There’s a shot at a W in Week 1, but beyond that, I’m not seeing anything else, unfortunately.
2018 Record: 1-8 (1-6)
Notable Losses: QB/DB Noah Ahles, WR/DB Nathan Lahti, WR/LB Jordan Teska, RB/LB Andy Barnier, OL/DL Kyle Roslowski
Notable Returnees: RB/LB Donville James (Jr.), OL/LB Noah Erbe (Sr.), QB/DB Sawyer Smith (Jr.), RB/LB Michael Reed (So.), WR/DB Taylor Johnson (Sr.), OL/DL Gabriel Woller (Jr.), WR/DB Konnor Hill (Jr.)
Outlook: Things should be better for the Pacers this year, after last year was undermined by a few key guys not going out and underwhelming senior performances otherwise. A lot of young kids got experience and that could bear fruit this year. To what extent, I’m not sure, but they were able to stay close in a few conference games last year. No reason to think with a lot of teams in that mid-tier they won’t have several chances for Ws again.
Prognostication: The big change sees Racine Lutheran springboard over Racine St. Catherine’s and Martin Luther to take the top spot, as the latter two fall off, but not terribly so. I do wonder if RaLu’s gonna get any sort of challenge in the Metro this year. RSC is the best bet, but they did lose a lot. Beyond that, it’s very similar to last year. Dominican is likely still the fourth-best team if they stay healthy, but expect a push from KSJ and BCC, and maybe even SL if things bounce their way. STM remains a ways back.
1. Racine Lutheran
2. Racine St. Catherine’s
3. Martin Luther
5. Kenosha St. Joseph
6. Catholic Central
7. Shoreland Lutheran
8. Saint Thomas More