2019 Record: 4-6 (4-4)
Notable Losses: OL Loic Venon, OL Mason Carnell, WR/P Robbie Symdon, RB Josh Nielson, DL John Henry Schlager, LB Brady Riphenburg, LB Dalton Elrod, LB Everett Fawley, LB Johnny Orlando, WR Carter Gilmore, QB Tommy Darrow, DL Ethan Bodway
Notable Returnees: RB/DB Owen Arnett (Sr.), PK Tyler Bittman (Sr.), DL Nate Hess (Sr.), DL Alec Swinehart (Sr.), WR Brady Russ (Sr.), WR Brayden Arnett (Jr.), WR Jacob Parsons (Sr.), DB Tanner Schutt (Sr.), DB Trey McDonald (Jr.), LB Aiden Jenson (Sr.)
Outlook: Arrowhead moves on to the third new coach of the post-Taraska Era as former Waukesha North head man Matt Harris takes the reins. It’s been a precipitous “fall” for the Warhawks in that time, as after early success under Greg Malling and his spread concepts which at the time melded perfectly with the athleticism and speed that was present in the program, the program began to fall down the ranks of the Classic 8. Now the rise of other programs has had a part in that, but truthfully Arrowhead has been suffering from an identity crisis for at least the last half-decade, particularly offensively. It’s not as if the Warhawks have lacked talent, they just don’t know what they want to be, at least to the eye of this observer. Coach Harris’ teams have had no problem generating offense the past few years, but what was good for the Northstars’ goose may not be what’s good for the Warhawks’ gander. My suggestion, and what I have an inkling may be what we see, is that the Warhawks re-commit to being a run-first offense. The elder Arnett hasn’t been used in the backfield since his freshmen year. It sounds like a return is in the cards. That’s a nice piece to build around. Remember there’s no shortage of quality guys in this program. Getting them in the right spots for success will be the key as to whether year one for Coach Harris is a boon or bane.
2019 Record: 4-6 (4-4)
Notable Losses: OL/DL Trey Wedig, DL Chandler Fontaine, LB Lucas Spencer, DB Nick Randgaard, DB Logan Ohm, DL Carson Fontaine, LB Sam Rife, TE/LB Tommy Hoeft, WR/DB Karsen Kleppe
Notable Returnees: DB Nolan Gende (Sr.), PK Chase Matyszczyk (Jr.), LB Tanner Carlsen (Sr.), DB Peyton Schopf (Jr.), QB Jackson Holzhauer (Sr.), RB Connor King (Sr.), WR Luke Danielski (Sr.), DL Andrew Gulrud (Sr.)
Outlook: The Lasers got themselves into the playoffs last year on the back of two good wins (CMH, Arrowhead) and a stingy defense, but to make any more moves up the standings will require drastic improvement on the offensive side of the ball. The positives are the return of their leading passer (Holzhauer), leading rusher (King) and leading receiver (Danielski), though each will have improve a bit on their numbers. The downside is the loss of two-way standout Trey Wedig along the lines, some big-time contributors to that defense…oh, and that pesky fact that they play in the Classic 8. This is a team that could go either way in the standings, although the money play is status quo.
2019 Record: 7-4 (5-3)
Notable Losses: OL Tyler Pitcel, DL Nate Wilcher, LB Will Borchert, DB Aaron Schmitz, OL Mac Collins, OL Zach Paprocki, OL Ben Rucinski, RB Ryan Genrich, QB Justin Peck, DL Caleb Willman, LB Christian Schultz, DB Brandon Antczak
Notable Returnees: TE Garrett Gillette (Sr.), ATH Cole Kaestner (Sr.), WR Greyton Gannon (Jr.), LB Kyle Santos (Sr.), DB Drew Jurack (Sr.)
Outlook: Mukwonago as usual, takes a hit to graduation, but the return of Arizona State commit Garrett Gillette should alleviate some of those concerns. Second-leading rusher Cole Kaestner (635 yards) also returns and will fill the shoes of Ryan Genrich. The other “GG,” Greyton Gannon, has the potential to be a big-time playmaker through the air. Mukwonago will have to replace most of their O-Line and break in a new QB, plus several highly productive members of their defense, although second-leading tackler Kyle Santos returns. The program feels like it’s gotten back to where they used to be, a contender for the top of the conference every year but one that usually ends up looking up at someone (formerly Arrowhead, now Muskego). They’re certainly glad to be rid of CMH too, I’m sure, although I don’t think this is the year they break through to the top.
2019 Record: 14-0 (8-0)
Notable Losses: OL Jacob Leszczynski, OL Ethan Jacquet, OL Terrin Hey, RB Andrew Leair, LB Bryan Gruehn, LB Richard Wauer, PK/P Shane Dunning, OL Travis Brent, WR Eric Strzyzewski, TE Ryan Harrison, QB Connor Grohman, LB Josh Rader, LB Nick Maier, DB Tyler Arthur
Notable Returnees: DB Hunter Wohler (Sr.), RB Alex Current (Sr.), OL Kyle Mason (Sr.), FB Josh Bulski (Sr.), DL Jared Beilfuss (Sr.), DL Brian Radish (Sr.), LB Anthony Tomczak, DB Mason Buehler (Sr.), QB Dylan Krause (Jr.), RB Evan Weber (Sr.), RB Landyn Rogers (Sr.), DL Joey Lawrence (Sr.)
Outlook: The back-to-back state champs are the odds-on favorite to capture whatever prize ends up being there at the end of the year. How, you might ask, looking at that list of notable losses. Well, the response is to look at the notable returnees. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Muskego will have to replace some bulk up front, but there’s little doubt that will happen, even with this odd off-season. The line is the heart of the Wing-T, and Coach Krause and Co. never neglect to develop hogmollies up front. Whoever ends up slotting in there has the luxury of blocking for speed demon Alex Current (1,540 yards, 22 TDs, 13.9 ypc) and the bruising Josh Bulski (1,285 yards, 9 TDs). Muskego returns six starters on defense including the WFCA Large School Defensive Player of the Year in safety Hunter Wohler. Mason Buehler is no slouch in the secondary as well. Stopping the Wing-T is tough enough, and even when it’s been slowed, this defense has found a way to step up every time. That’s tough to beat.
2019 Record: 3-6 (2-6)
Notable Losses: OL Noah Zupke, OL Garner Simmons, OL Nathaniel Sitzberger, ATH Drew Brezinski, DL Justin Engler, DB Nate Bruno
Notable Returnees: LB Rome Zupke (Sr.), RB Ryan Van Ells (Sr.), DB Max Finger (Sr.), P Brady Moylan (Sr.), QB Tyler Novotny (Sr.), WR Kane Harpster (Sr.), WR Augie Marks (Sr.), WR Nick Sulla (Sr.)
Outlook: Former Brookfield East head coach Sal Logue takes over following the resignation of Greg Malling on the heels of a three-win season, but the team was much improved over their winless 2018 campaign. I would expect that improvement to continue, although in this league that may not always be evident in the standings. The numbers are good in the program and quite a bit returns in the way of experience, though the team will have to settle on a QB where multiple players saw time a year ago. Whoever emerges will have the team’s top three receivers returning to throw to. Defensively, LB Rome Zupke and DB Max Finger lead the way after being named Honorable Mention All-Conference a year ago. One area that will need to improve for the Racoons will be how they start the game. They were outscored 55-7 in the first quarter last year.
2019 Record: 3-6 (2-6)
Notable Losses: WR/DB Chimere Dike, QB Johnny Kelliher, PK/P Austin Peters, RB Javi Diaz, ATH Ben Spiers, LB Chris Abts, DB Rafa Lazcano, DL Daniel Korth
Notable Returnees: DB Javeonta Brown (Sr.), OL Jace Ocker (Sr.), TE Clayton Schwalbe (Sr.), LB Jack Klussendorf (Sr.), QB Jackson Neal (Jr.), LB Eli Zirbel (Jr.), DL Gabe Chaney (Jr.), OL/DL Montell Carter (Jr.)
Outlook: The Northstars, after several years of competitiveness and being in the hunt, now find themselves in perhaps what could be deemed “rebuild mode.” It’s not as if the cupboard is bare but when you lose two of the most productive players in the state over the last three seasons in QB Johnny Kelliher and all-purpose player Chimere Dike, something’s gotta give. Also, Vince Sciano replaces Matt Harris at the top, so there could always be changes in philosophy. They do return second-leading receiver Clayton Schwalbe (35 receptions, 385 yards, 4 TDs), but I wonder if we won’t see a more-balanced attack from the Northstars this year. The defense will also have to improve on its 28.8 ppg conceded.
2019 Record: 2-8 (0-8)
Notable Losses: DL Nick Waggoner
Notable Returnees: QB Jordan McNello (Sr.), WR/DB Zeke Diaz (Sr.), RB/DB Lavante Cleveland (Sr.), WR Eli Hoyt (Sr.), WR/DB Sam Beckman (Sr.), RB L.J. Griffin (Sr., transfer from Waukesha West, sat out 2019)
Outlook: It’s starting to feel like a broken record, but it’s not like Waukesha South is some moribund program just trotting out there to take their licks. They’re a relatively quality team year-in and year-out. Unfortunately the Classic 8 remains their home, so while their non-conference record sits above .500 over the past few seasons, their conference record is something quite different, and unfortunately, this year it’s all conference games for the Blackshirts. The team’s leading passer/rusher and receiver and a decent amount of experience all return, but size and depth will remain issues in this league of titans.
2019 Record: 9-4 (5-3)
Notable Losses: OL Jack Sobczak, OL Zach Kluge, FB Lucas Stray, QB Brooks Blount, DL Craig Hanson, DL Nick Redding, WR Devon Portz, DL Tyler Sieger, DL Logan Clementi, LB Ben Zibton, DB Pierce Hudson
Notable Returnees: OL Gavin Black (Sr.), WR/QB Tyler Hug (Sr.), TE Dan Kujawa (Sr.), DB C.J. Grisar (Sr.), RB Shayne Hensley (Sr.), ATH Devon Townsend (Sr.), WR Nathan Andringa (Sr.), LB Tate Peters (Sr.), LB Alex Gerstner (Sr.), DB Tanor Gehrke (Sr.)
Outlook: Prolific QB Brooks Blount moves on and second-leading receiver Tyler Hug is heir presumptive under center. West returns about half their starters and should remain in the hunt for a high finish in the league. OL remains a strength, and it stands to reason they may lean more on the running game (just 1,394 yards a season ago) again this year as they do return their top two rushers from a year ago. TE Dan Kujawa (33 receptions, 386 yards, 5 TD) will be a big target in the passing game. The Wolverines also have the luxury of returning their top three tacklers from a year ago in Grisar, Peters and Gerstner.
2. Waukesha West
5. Kettle Moraine
7. Waukesha North
8. Waukesha South
-Behind the obvious pick in Muskego at the top, it gets a bit murky 2-5, there could be a lot of flip-flopping here. I’m going with Waukesha West as the #2, the program itself has enjoyed quite the run of consistency compared to the others in that range. I expect a better year from Arrowhead this year. Something’s gotta give there, and I think it gives in the upward direction with a renewed focus. Mukwonago gets the nod over KM as I still think the Lasers are going to struggle somewhat offensively. What should be an improved Oconomowoc squad could peep KM for that fifth spot, but I think they settle in again in sixth. The other directional Waukeshas round out the table in the positions they’ve occupied all-too-often in recent years.