2017 Record: 9-3 (7-1)
Notable Losses: WR/LB Ray Rosalez, QB Mitchell Gnadt, RB/DB Kyle Weinkauf, OL Nick Schaefer, DE Devin Biskupski, DB Tanner Sebastian, TE/DL Jaelen Johnson, DE Ricky Rosales
Notable Returnees: OL/DL Josh Dymond (Sr.), WR/DB JR Muth (Sr.), OL Josh Dooley (Sr.), WR/LB Masaeo Wooden (Sr.), DL Noah Radka (Sr.), RB/LB/P Sean Sanchez (Sr.), RB/WR Paul Toetz (Sr.), WR Andrew Vey (Sr.), OL Brett Shumway (So.)
Outlook: Things got slightly back to normal in Pantherville last year with a couple of playoff wins. The upward trend should continue with many contributors returning, including several all-conference perfomers. The Panthers will have to nail down Gnadt’s successor at QB (potentially the sophomore Will Brust or junior Matt Schultz), but experience returns across the front, and Toetz and Sanchez saw carries behind Weinkauf a year ago. Wooden and Vey are targets for the new signal-caller, while defensively Dymond, Radka, Wooden and Muth will provide leadership on all levels. Expect the Panthers to be in the conference title hunt (if they nail down that QB position, of course).
New Berlin Eisenhower
2017 Record: 13-1 (8-0)
Notable Losses: QB/K Bryce Miller, WR Stephan Halusan, TE/LB Joey Lang, OL Dylan Abbott, OL Devyn Schlicht, RB/LB Jake Belongia, OL Seth Luckman, DL Max Tippel, LB Mike White, DB Mike Angiolo, DB Peter Katris, LB Boden Saike, LB Nathan Doss
Notable Returnees: OL/DL Mark Shields (Sr.), RB Jack Himmelspach (Sr.), OL Isaac Freichels (Jr.), DB Jake Schara (Sr.), DL Davy Counsell (Sr.)
Outlook: IKE’s return to form ran into a buzzsaw in Rice Lake in the State Championship game, but that shouldn’t take away from a great season. As we turn the page to 2018, things will be a little different as grad losses took their toll on the Lions. I still expect them to be in conference title contention, but it certainly won’t be the runaway it was last year (five shutouts). The return of Mark Shields on both sides of the ball gives them a nice multi-time all-conference player anchor, while Jack Himmelspach returns as the big play threat on offense. Talented LB and receiving corps will have to be replaced but there is some talent in the incoming junior class to hopefully offset that. A concern has to be there are no QBs in the program with any varsity experience. It’ll be trial by fire as the schedule is frontloaded (Plymouth, Pewaukee, a hopefully improved WISCO and Greendale) the first four weeks.
New Berlin West
2017 Record: 6-4 (5-3)
Notable Losses: QB/DB Joe Robey, OL/DL Alex Underwood, DB Nate Artenian, DL D.J. Nennig, DE Austin Alexander, LB Jack Ohberg, DB John Tsoris, DB/P Egan Iwanski
Notable Returnees: WR Tyler Stoltenberg (Sr.), RB/LB Sam Meleski (Sr.), LB Nick Paget (Sr.)
Outlook: The Vikings qualified for the playoffs last year, but the question of how much success they find this year may rest on how they replace playmaking QB Joe Robey. How quickly and how well they do that will go a long way, as the new QB will have a big weapon in the receiver Stoltenberg and running back Meleski. Paget may also help on both sides of the ball. The Vikings won’t have a lot of size, and what they do have is young, however, and how that impacts them remains to be seen. NBW will likely need to beat WISCO and win their crossover to make another playoff foray.
2017 Record: 8-3 (6-2)
Notable Losses: RB/LB Seth Bickett, WR/DB David Young, OL Jordyn Kowalke, OL Carlos Teran, K David Collins, QB Josh Swanson, OL Nate Keskinen, DE Jared Schmitz, DB Connor Vogt, LB Steele Beatty
Notable Returnees: OL David Bell (Sr.), DL Abel Savage (Sr.), RB/LB Masen Beatty (Sr.), WR/DB Weston Katula (Sr.)
Outlook: Another solid year for one of the steadiest programs in the area in 2017, but 2018 means the end of the Seth Bickett Era in Pewaukee, leaving the Pirates with one of the biggest holes to fill of any team in the state…and Bickett wasn’t their only loss to graduation. Three all-conference O-Linemen are gone as well as QB Swanson and two-way all-conference standout Young. As is always the case with established programs, the well is far from dry. Second-leading rusher Masen Beatty returns along with all-conference O-Linemen Bell to help out the new QB, as does WR Weston Katula (18.6 ypc). Defensively, Beatty was second-leading tackler behind Bickett and Savage took home all-conference honors. I’m not sure the Pirates will be in the title hunt (they get IKE and Pewaukee in Weeks 2 and 3, so we’ll get a good gauge right away), but will definitely be in the playoff chase.
2017 Record: 2-7 (2-6)
Notable Losses: OL/DL Luc Leszczynski, RB/TE/LB Jonathan Lee, OL/DL Camryn Rayford, LB Nick Morton, QB Bishara Hinnawi
Notable Returnees: TE/DE Jamontte Brown (Sr.), QB Jaylen Hill (Jr.), RB/LB Dexter Love Jr. (Jr.), WR/DB Dasani Garner (Jr.)
Outlook: Another new coach in Popeland as Louisville import Craig Swabek lasts just two years, being replaced by John Rasmussen. Numbers remain an issue, and there is a serious dearth of size/returning linemen. There was no JV team last year, so a lot of the young players didn’t really get a ton of reps. All that sounds like a recipe for disaster. The team will lean heavily on Brown, a two-way all-conference performer, and Love Jr., a two-time letterwinner as just an incoming junior. Graduations decimated what was a nominal strength in the trenches. It in all likelihood will be a long year for Pius, who obviously will be looking forward to crossovers with Cudahy and (likely) Brown Deer…and whatever the heavily-rumored WFCA-endorsed statewide football-only realignment brings in 2019.
West Allis Central
2017 Record: 2-7 (2-6)
Notable Losses: WR Deonte Vanselow, RB/LB Salim DeLoach, RB/LB Travon Davis, RB/DB Colten Rosas, RB/LB Josiah Benjamin
Notable Returnees: RB Glenn Martin (Sr.), DL Tim Seymour (Sr.), OL/DL Vincent Conroy-Munoz (Jr.), OL Jake Fierst (Sr.)
Outlook: The move to the Woodland netted two victories over inferior competition for the Bulldogs but little else. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see anything but more of the same in 2018. The positives for the Bulldogs are that they return a good corps of guys in the trenches and a pretty good RB in Martin. The negatives are that they never settled the QB position a year ago, and it looks as if that still may be the case this year, and they did not show an uptick in improving the discipline problems that plagued the previous regimes. The Bulldogs must improve drastically on both sides of the ball after being shutout five times while surrendering 36.3 ppg a year ago.
2017 Record: 3-6 (3-5)
Notable Losses: OL/DL Adler Peterson, RB/DB Lucas Roecker
Notable Returnees: RB/DB Jacqueze Lockett (Sr.), OL/DL Sam Gerhard (Sr.), TE/LB David Frey (Sr.), QB Collin Olson (Sr.), WR Noah Bilitz (Sr.), WR Carter Raabe (Sr.)
Outlook: WISCO had never missed the playoffs since joining the WIAA…until 2017. Despite a topsy-turvy year, they still had a shot to qualify in Week 9, but an unexpected loss to Shorewood/Messmer ended up being a poetic end to the year. With the DeNoyer Era getting further away in the rearview mirror, it seems ever more likely that those years of WISCO dominance and state title runs are over. That said, despite the graduation of two-way standout lineman Adler Peterson, WISCO brings back most of their starters from a year ago, including an explosive RB in Lockett, and should expect at least a slight uptick in success. The Vikings open again with Oak Creek, a game that served as a harbinger of things to come last year…only this time the Vikings will field the vastly more experienced team. A better result in Week 1 could go a long way to changing WISCO’s fortunes. Stay tuned.Prognostication:
Things set up nicely for Greendale to claw their way back to the top of the league, but IKE will be nipping at their heels. I think Pewaukee will be a tad behind with a pair of Vikings making up the next level, before there is a significant drop-off to WAC and Pius.
2. New Berlin Eisenhower
4. Wisconsin Lutheran
5. New Berlin West
6. West Allis Central
7. Pius XI