Geez, is it really just 14 days to the start of the season? Well, with that in mind I'll kick off the discussion on the upcoming season. One thing that's apparent: a lot of teams lost a lot of talent from last season (and the C-South lost a school completely), but there's still a dominant team that has a real shot to get to Madison.

Capitol - North
1. Columbus - A couple of years ago, someone suggested that Columbus was threat to play for the D4 title; I said that was premature. This year? It's "Madison or Bust" for the Cardinals. The seniors learned a ton from last year's matchups vs. Lodi, and quite arguably they might have been playing at Camp Randall if not for Garret Wegner. A wealth of experience and talent on both sides of the ball, decent depth to fill in as needed, ... if the Cardinals lost a game before November 18, it would be a huge shock.

2. Poynette - Last year was a rebuild for the Pumas, who surprisingly started 5-0 before getting hammered the rest of the way. With a handful of returning starters on both sides led by Tanner Kerr at RB and Ryan Hutchinson at QB, the Pumas should have a decent shot to scratch out 3 conference wins and a playoff spot - and this year, the wins should be more comfortable

3. Lodi - It would be easy to say, "you're overvaluing a Blue Devils team that unloaded a slew of seniors, leaving huge holes to be plugged." However, it's Lodi and they somehow always find a way to reload. It probably starts with Casey Periske and Jacob Heyroth on offense and Alex Mashak and Max Barreau on defense. The 3-year conference title run will come to an end, but the Blue Devils will likely find their way to the playoffs and make life miserable for most opponents along the way.

4. Lake Mills - The L-Cats lost a few notable players to graduation. However, Ben Dunkleberger comes back to run the offense and he has Brady Wagner and Adam Fair in the backfield. There's enough defense to have hope; size may be a real issue, though. The playoffs are probably a reach this season; getting to last year's 4-5 mark looks about right.

5. Lakeside Lutheran - The Warriors should have made the playoffs last year [rant about playoff qualification omitted], and there is no Austin DeNoyer coming back to anchor the running game. There is Nick Chesterman at QB, though, and he gained valuable experience last year. If he can get a little help from the guys around him, Lakeside could surprise.

6. Luther Prep - See 1st sentence in the Lakeside writeup. Prep unloaded a ton of talent to graduation, and I have no idea what's in the cupboards. I could easily be undervaluing the Phoenix, and this may be subject to change - but I need to see more info first.

Capitol - South
1. Marshall - I know, it's like a broken record. Football season comes, the Cardinals gravitate to the top of the C-South. Last year was a surprise, as Marshall snagged a piece of the C-South title and then advanced to the quarterfinals Level 3 in D5. Adam Wehking will be a load on both offense and defense, but he'll need teammates to step up if a repeat of last year's playoff run is going to happen. Either way, the top spot in the C-South is Marshall's to lose.

2. Belleville - In a division where everyone appears to be down, the Wildcats might well be the 2nd best team in the Capitol South. Offense shouldn't be a problem, where Dan Meier comes back at QB and he'll have Cade Martin to hand off to and throw to. There's a number of losses on defense, but there is Martin, Cash Hoffman and Tony O'Connor. It won't be pretty, but depending on how playoff spots get assigned with Wisconsin Heights sitting out the year the Wildcats might be in the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

3. Waterloo - Continuing the theme, the Pirates lost a number of guys to graduation. Weston Swartzrauber and Dawson Cole will key the offense, but a repeat of last year's playoff appearance may be asking too much.

4. New Glarus/Monticello - Last year should have been the one the Glarner Knights shined and went deep into the playoffs. Injuries took their toll, though, and NG/M ended up scratching out a playoff spot and then getting toasted by eventual D5 runner-up Spencer/Columbus Catholic. The good news is that John Chenoweth is back at QB; the bad news is that much of the rest of the talent from last season is gone. If Chenoweth can make magic happen, I may be understating NG/M's chances - but I don't think that will happen.

5. Cambridge - Yeah, another team that lost guys on both sides of the ball. The difference: the Bluejays pretty much unloaded everything. Getting more than a win is probably asking too much; getting even one win might be pushing it.
I'm not saying some things the WIAA does are wrong, ... I'm just saying, "I find it weird."
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1. Columbus
2. Lodi
3. Poynette
4. Lakeside
5. Lake Mills
6. Luther Prep

Spots 3-6 could be switched. Lake Mills has a murderous non-conference slate which could make or break their season. Prep could contend but also has a tough opening half to the year. Don't think Lodi will fall that far.

1. Marshall
2. Waterloo
3. Cambridge
4. Belleville
5. New Glarus

Don't see Cambridge dropping to the cellar. They always seem to be in the hunt for the division let alone a spot in the postseason. Marshall is the favorite in the south. Waterloo always lurks in the background but should have a solid year. How the South will deal with only having four conference games will be interesting to see.
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RE: Wisconsin Heights

They'll be out for much more than a year. When you switch to 8-man, you must make at least a three year commitment. Beyond that, I don't see their numbers situation impriving, simply put, boys are deferring to soccer or cross country more than football. They'll also be much more competitive in 8-man, too, going into each week with a good chance to win is more of a confidence boost than going into each game in the 11-man season hoping the game doesn't end in a running clock.

FWIW, with the guys and coach they have, they have a good chance to be a fun 8-man squad... just too bad that the enrollment average north of 200 keeps them from postseason play. Can't wait till WIAA gets enough 8 man teams to go to a playoff division.

As for 11 man



Lake Mills
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Going to get in the mix on this years.

Capitol North

1. Columbus
2. Lodi
3. Poynette
4. Lakeside Luthern
5. Lake Mills
6. Luther Prep

Capitol South

1. NGM
2. Marshall
3. Waterloo
4. Cambridge
5. Belleville

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My picks:

Capital North:

1) Columbus
2) Lodi
3) Poynette
4) Lakeside Lutheran
5) Lake Mills
6) Watertown Luther Prep

Top half of the North may look more battered and bruised than an MMA fight (no pun intended to those who follow the sport)

Capital South:

1) Marshall
2) Waterloo
3) Belleville
4) New Glarus/Monticello
5) Cambridge

With only four conference games, the race to get to three wins and clinch a playoff spot may or may not produce a few surprises.
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I've dropped the pick'em for this season over on the Capitol North side.
I'm not saying some things the WIAA does are wrong, ... I'm just saying, "I find it weird."
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