We have finally made it to the big game, which has been a long-awaited quest for the gold ball, and several teams will go home Friday night either on top of Wisconsin State Football or a sad end to a season. Today I will be going over each of the seven division matchups in the WIAA State Football Championship games with a quick preview of all of them.
F.Y.I. All of the games will be played at Camp Randall Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Badgers College Football team in Madison.
These two teams come into the state championship game with a hard-earned win on the defensive end, as Edgar got the best of Bangor 21-3 and Black Hawk/Warren won 36-7 against the one-seeded Reedsville. The story of the season for Edgar has been how they held their opponents to nine straight shutouts after their week-one loss, which seems like they put their foot on the gas throughout this spectacular season and are looking for their first championship win since 2016. Black Hawk is looking for their first state championship victory since 2019.
This game will be a dogfight to open the four-game slate on Thursday.
Three key players to watch on Edgar:
RB/LB: Karter Butt
DE/TE: Brett Baumgartner
TE/DE: Lucas Stahnke
Three key players to watch on Black Hawk are:
DB/RB: Lane Marty
RB/LB: Owen Seffrood
DB/WR: Andrew Figi
Kickoff: 10 a.m. CT Thursday
This matchup will be a fun one as the reigning Division 6 state champions, Stratford, look to defend their title and complete the back-to-back repeat against the team that loves to run the ball. Darlington, in thirteen games this year averages 240.8 rushing yards per game and only 91.2 passing yards per game. I bet Stratford will do all they can to stop that dominant run game of Darlington, but this one will be a shootout, in my opinion, with all of the talent on both sides.
Three key players to watch on Stratford:
QB/FS: Jack Tubbs
OLB/HB/PR: Gavin Leonhardt
FB/MLB: Koehler Kilty
Three key players to watch in Darlington:
RB/DB: Tye Crist
DB/HB: Reagan Jackson
OL/DL: Ross Crist
Kickoff: 1 p.m. CT Thursday
If you thought that the Division Six game would be the only one with a heavy rushing game attack, you were wrong. Wrightstown averaged 290.6 rushing yards per game in thirteen games this season, and only 30 averaging on the pass game. The Tigers are looking for their first state championship victory since 2011, when they were in division four. The Aquinas Blugolds are looking to repeat in Division Five again, as they like to keep things very balanced in their offensive attack and their powerhouse defense as well.
Three players to watch on Wrightstown:
LB/RB: Aiden Humphreys
LB/QB: Quade Thompson
LB/FB: Landon Helphrey
Three players to watch on Aquinas:
RB: Kyle White
DB: Brady Lehnherr
DB: Tony Miller
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT Thursday
To close out the Thursday slate of state championship games, this game should be the cherry on top. Luxemburg-Casco comes into this game after a thrilling victory against Catholic Memorial on a game-winning field goal with two seconds left. The magical run lives on to the big stage, where they will face the undefeated Lodi, another big run game team that is very talented all around and has a spectacular defense with seven shutouts on the year. Luxemburg-Casco is in search of their first WIAA State Championship victory ever, while Lodi is looking for number two this year as they previously won in 2017.
Three players to watch on Luxemburg-Casco:
QB/DB: Max Ronsmann
WR/LB: Braeden Schley
Three players to watch on Lodi:
DB/QB: Mason Lane
LB/RB: Kyler Clemens
LB/RB/LS: Brady Puls
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT Friday
FRIDAY GAMES: WIAA STATE FOOTBALL
Being one of the best teams up north, Rice Lake was the powerhouse team all year, as they lost their opener against Menomonie 21-12 and haven’t looked back since as they finished undefeated the rest of the way, led by that scorching hot offense that has scored at least 30 points each game other than the opening loss they had. This seems like a big pattern where a team takes their first week to get used to the team situation and then turns on the jets right after the whole way. The Grafton Black Hawks have had a pretty successful season, led by their pass game, and are looking for their first state championship victory since 1982. Rice Lake is looking for its first championship since 2017.
Five players to watch from Rice Lake:
FB/ILB: Lucas Peters
FB/ILB: Easton Stone
WR/DB: Zach Orr
HB/DB: Conner Durand
DB: Lucas Sirek
Five players to watch from Grafton:
QB: Brady Hilgart
RB: Tommy Lutz
ILB: Tyler Heinle
FB/ILB: Tyler Van Sluys
OLB: Dalton Reindl
Kickoff: 10 a.m. CT Friday
This is one of the biggest games being played in the WIAA State Championships, as we have two teams that have yet to fall in a game yet. Waunakee is always one of the powerhouse teams that seems hard to take down as they have a stellar defense and can hold teams to a slim amount of points, and on Badger’s end, they had one of the best run games in the state, averaging over 350 rushing yards per game. Waunakee is looking to win its first state championship since 2021, and Badger is looking for their first-ever WIAA Football State Championship win.
Five players to watch on Waunakee:
Five players to watch on Badger:
Kickoff: 1 p.m. CT Friday
To end it all off, we have a big matchup between two teams that have stellar defenses. First off, the Marquette Hilltoppers are coming off a big upset on the reigning D1 state champions and are looking for more as their defense tries to stop a red-hot Franklin offense, which is a strong possibility as Marquette has eight shutouts on the year and their offense still knows how to put points on the board as well. Franklin comes into this game after back-to-back weeks of upsets on two other top-five teams, Muskego and Sussex Hamilton, outscoring them 70-7. They hope to keep this all rolling this week as the Sabers look for their second state championship in the last three years and Marquette tries to win it for the first time since 2009.
Five players to watch from Marquette:
Five players to watch from Franklin:
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT Friday
Good luck to all of the fourteen teams this Thursday & Friday!