For many area football teams, the postseason is not an option this season, but that doesn’t mean Friday’s regular season finales carry no weight.
For some teams, pride is a factor as they look to avoid a loss to a big rival, while others have a conference title in their sights. Rio will miss the playoffs for a second-straight year but can end the season on a high note by knocking off rival Fall River, while Lodi can clinch an outright Capitol North Conference title and Pardeeville can secure a share of the Trailways Large crown.
Cambria-Friesland faces a must-win in order to punch its ticket to the postseason, while Portage and Montello/Princeton/Green Lake can build some momentum toward next season with Week 9 wins.
Here’s a look at the area’s Week 9 prep football games:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Cambria-Friesland (3-5, 3-3 conference) at Randolph (1-7, 1-5)
After capturing three-straight Trailways Small Conference titles and making three consecutive trips to the Division 7 quarterfinals, Cambria-Friesland is in an unfamiliar spot: the postseason bubble. The Hilltoppers are on the brink of having their four-year postseason streak snapped if they are unable to knock off Randolph this week.
Following an 0-2 start to the season, Cambria-Friesland went 3-1 over its next four games before struggling the last two weeks. The Toppers lost its last two games by a combined score of 75-6, including a 34-0 shutout loss to league leader Fall River last week.
The ground game, or lack thereof, has been the difference for Cambria-Friesland all year. In its five losses, the Toppers have been held below 50 yards four times, with a 190-yard performance against Oshkosh Lourdes being the lone exception.
Conversely, CF has rushed for over 300 yards in two of its three wins, grinding out 342 yards against Deerfield and 302 against Rio. Running back Wesley Bancroft has been the main beneficiary, rushing for 485 yards and three touchdowns in three games, good for an average of 161.7 yards per game.
If the Toppers want to get past the Rockets, they will have to rely on Bancroft and their ground attack. That shouldn’t be a problem as Randolph has struggled to stop the run. The Rockets, who picked up their first win of the season with a 56-0 victory over Beaver Dam Wayland last week, have given up 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, good for an average of 205.1 YPG.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Max Barreau, Senior, Lodi
While Lodi’s offense has received much praise this season, the Blue Devils defense has been just as lethal with Barreau playing a major factor. The senior linebacker has a team-high 36 tackles, including 33 solo, nine tackles for loss and a pair of sacks for a unit that is allowing just 8.3 points per game.
Barreau has also played a major role in the turnover department, forcing a pair of the Blue Devils’ 10 forced fumbles this season. He also had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown in last week’s 27-0 win over Watertown Luther Prep and will be looking to strike again this Friday against Poynette.
Jack Moll, Senior, Poynette
It’s been a tough season for the Pumas, who will miss out on the playoffs for a third-straight season following last week’s 48-6 loss to Lake Mills. One of the bright spots for Poynette this season has been Moll, who leads the team in rushing with 483 yards and seven touchdowns. He will look to get going against a stout Lodi defense.
Moll was kept in check against the L-Cats, rushing for just 33 yards on 14 carries, but will be eager to breakout in his final game against the rival Blue Devils and potentially deny them of a fourth outright Capitol North Conference title in the last five years.
Pardeeville (6-2, 4-1) at Markesan (7-1, 5-0)
After a one-year absence from the postseason, the Bulldogs will be back in the playoffs this year. Following last week’s 16-15 win over Horicon/Hustisford, Pardeeville can add some hardware before the postseason by earning a share of its first Trailways Large Conference title since 2010. To do so, the Bulldogs will have to knock off league leader Markesan. The Hornets, who routed Rosholt 44-0 last week, are eyeing a third-straight outright conference title. In order to spring the upset, the Bulldogs will have to limit a red hot offense that is averaging 36.9 points per game, and has scored at least 28 points in every game after being shutout in Week 1.
Portage (2-6, 2-4) at DeForest (5-3, 4-2)
The Warriors saw their playoff hopes dashed last week with a 3-0 overtime loss to Reedsburg. While Portage will miss out on the postseason for a 10th straight year, it can end the season on a high note and build some momentum towards next season with a win over the Norskies on Friday. It won’t be an easy task as DeForest will be eager to pad its postseason résumé, but don’t put anything past a Warriors senior class with nothing to lose.
Rio (2-6, 2-4) at Fall River (7-1, 6-0)
Like Portage, the Vikings will miss the playoffs following last week’s 28-0 shutout loss to Deerfield, It’s the second straight year Rio will be kept out of the postseason after having its 10-year streak snapped last year. While bittersweet, the Vikings can end the season on a high note with a win over rival Fall River. The league leading Pirates have a chance to secure their first outright Trailways Small Conference title since 2013 and the Vikings would enjoy nothing more than to play spoiler.
MPGL (1-7, 1-4) at Palmyra-Eagle (3-5, 1-4)
Montello/Princeton/Green Lake will miss the playoffs for a second-straight year following last week’s 28-21 loss to Dodgeland. It’s been a tough stretch for the Phoenix, who have lost their last three games by a combined 16 points. A win over Palmyra-Eagle can help soften the blow for MPGL as it can close the season on a high and build momentum for next year, when it is losing just 10 players to graduation.