Sheppard Jr. stiff arm

Portage sophomore Dale Sheppard Jr. delivers a stiff arm to Mt. Horeb/Barneveld senior Mitchell Larson before scoring a touchdown during the second half of last week's Badger North Conference game. Sheppard Jr. and the Warriors, which fell to the Vikings 57-14, will look to keep their playoff hopes alive this week against Reedsburg.

SEAN DAVIS/Capital Newspapers

Sauk Prairie seeking another win

Sauk Prairie used an explosive second-half performance to pick up its first Badger North Conference win of the season last week, knocking off rival Baraboo 30-14. Tied at 7 going into halftime, the Eagles flipped the game on its head with 16 straight points to open the second half. Sauk Prairie recorded a safety before adding a kick return touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown for a 23-7 lead before hanging on to snap its four-game losing streak. Senior quarterback Dawson Evert completed 15-of-20 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and ran in the game sealing 18-yard touchdown, while junior running back Elijah Jorgenson had 77 total yards (40 rush, 37 receiving). The Eagles will try to carry that momentum over into Friday’s matchup with Beaver Dam, who is fighting for a playoff spot. The Golden Beavers fell to DeForest 35-7 last week, snapping a two-game winning streak. If Sauk Prairie wants to pick up a second-straight win, Evert and Jorgenson will need to have big performances.

Reedsburg trying

to end on a high note

Reedsburg saw its five-year playoff streak come to an end last week with a 43-3 loss to Waunakee. The Warriors took a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and added 23 more in the second quarter before the Beavers got on the board with a 29-yard field goal by senior Mason McMillen. Reedsburg was held to just 100 total yards while the Beavers struggled to stop the Warriors, giving up 370 yards. Senior quarterback Nathan Kruser was relied upon in the absence of sophomore Casey Campbell, rushing for a team-high 45 yards on nine attempts. While the postseason is already out of reach, Reedsburg will be looking to end its final two weeks on the right note, starting with homecoming this week against Portage. Portage’s offense had similar struggles in its 57-14 loss to Mt. Horeb/Barneveld last week, putting up just 123 yards. With both offenses slumping, defense and turnovers will play a massive key. Expect a low scoring but exciting back-and-forth contest in this week’s affair at Millennium Field.

Beaver Dam playing

for the postseason

Sandwiched between games against two of the top teams in the conference (a 35-7 loss to DeForest last week and Waunakee next week) is what amounts to a playoff game for Beaver Dam this week against Sauk Prairie. If the Golden Beavers can ground the Eagles, they’ll be assured of a better-than-.500 conference record and have qualified for the postseason. The prospects are promising, too, as Beaver Dam has a balanced offense behind the trio of senior running back Blaiz Firari, senior quarterback Kendric Jimenez and senior wide receiver Dillon Livingston. Firari ran for 87 yards on 4 yards per carry against the Norskies’ stingy defense while Jimenez is completing 50 percent of his passes and thrown just one interception to six touchdowns, hooking up with Livingston (526 yards on 30 catches) on three of them. With that, the Beavers should be capable of exploiting Sauk Prairie’s vulnerable defense (35.0 points allowed per game). BD has shown the ability to win the games it should. This is one of them.

Baraboo’s scoring

woes continue

Baraboo’s woes continued Friday night as the Thunderbirds fell to Sauk Prairie 30-14. The T-Birds hung tough in the first half, sending the game into the break tied at 7 before Sauk Prairie took a 23-7 lead in the second half. Baraboo stopped the Eagles’ run with a 2-yard touchdown run by junior Mike Wech, but was unable to close the gap from there. While their defense has been fairly solid this year, 30 points is too much for the Thunderbirds offense to overcome. Baraboo is scoring 11.3 points per game this season, but that number has dwindled to 4.7 during the last three outings. It’s going to be tough to get the ball moving against unbeaten Waunakee on Friday. The Warriors, who are coming off a 43-3 romp over Reedsburg last week, are scoring 54.0 points per game on the season while giving up just 6.9 points per game. Waunakee has played the entire second half with a running clock in each of its last three games due to being up by at least 40 points and it will be tough for the T-Birds to stop that streak.

Portage pushed

to the brink

Another abysmal start sunk Portage in last week’s 57-14 loss to Mt. Horeb/Barneveld. The Warriors were outmatched from the opening kickoff in all facets, as the Vikings built a 50-0 lead at halftime before coasting to the 43-point victory. Portage’s offense was limited to just 123 yards, led by senior running back Justin Sankey’s 33 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Defensively, the Warriors struggled to stop MHB through the air and on the ground, giving up nearly 500 yards (277 rushing, 215 passing) and eight scores. While the loss doesn’t eliminate Portage from postseason contention, it makes its first trip the playoffs since 2007 that much harder. The Warriors must now win their final two games, starting with this week’s clash against Reedsburg. The Beavers, who fell to Waunakee 43-3 last week are allowing 32.6 points per game. Reedsburg is averaging 205.1 yards per game rushing (allowing 207.3) but giving up 168 through the air. If the Warriors want to win, they may have to take to the air.

Second-place

showdown and more

While both Mt. Horeb/Barneveld and DeForest have punched their ticket to the postseason, Friday’s match-up between them still has major implications. Second place in the Badger North Conference is up for grabs, but not only that, the winner will have a big leg up in its playoff seeding meeting. Both squads enter red hot with the teams riding four- and three-game winning streaks behind some massive offensive firepower. Mt. Horeb/Barneveld, which routed Portage 57-14 last week, has scored at least 45 points during its win streak, good for an average of 50 points per game in that stretch. DeForest has notched at least 35 points in its last three wins, including last week’s 35-7 victory over Beaver Dam, and is putting up 43 PPG over that time. With both teams putting up plenty of points, turnovers and time of possession will be critical. The Vikings have the edge in turnovers with 12 takeaways but it’s the Norskies who can grind out the clock, either way, it should make for a very competitive game.