It’s hard to gain enough attention to earn a spot in the top 10 of Wisconsin's Associated Press football poll.
The Columbus prep football team garnered some votes within the Medium Division (301-899 enrollment) over the last few weeks, but didn't break into the top 10 until Tuesday, when the Cardinals were ranked ninth in the final poll of the season.
The top-10 appearance comes after the Cardinals defeated Lakeside Lutheran, 49-21, Friday in a Capitol Conference game to end the regular season.
After trading touchdowns for the first quarter and a half, the Cardinals scored three touchdowns in the final 7 minutes of the first half and broke away from the Warriors.
As he’s done all season long, sophomore running back Colton Brunell put the Cardinals on his back and ran for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Junior quarterback Nathan Cotter also threw for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 6 of 8 passing.
The second-seeded Cardinals and seventh-seeded Warriors will meet again Friday, facing off in Columbus for a WIAA Division 4 Level 1 postseason game. The winner will advance to play No. 3 Lake Mills or No. 6 Kettle Moraine Lutheran on Oct. 19.
Wisconsin Dells also broke into the top 10 in the Medium Division this week. The Chiefs rose after winning a back-and-forth South Central Conference game over Mauston last week, claiming a 40-32 win to clinch the conference title. Four days later, they were voted 10th in the Medium Division.
The top-seeded Chiefs will host eighth-seeded Adams-Friendship on Friday in the opening round of the Division 4 playoffs. Mauston is seeded eighth and will visit top-seeded Northwestern in Level 1.
At the top of the Medium Division, Catholic Memorial crushed Pius XI Catholic, 64-14, to end the regular season and will host Kiel in the first round of the playoffs. Catholic Memorial also earned eight first-place votes and earned the No. 1 spot in the AP poll. At No. 2 is Lake Country Lutheran, which claimed a 56-6 win over Shoreland Lutheran in a Metro Classic Conference game last week. The Lightning will host New Holstein this week.
Franklin is still the top team in the Large Division (900 and up enrollment) after it demolished Racine Case, 76-0, in a Southeast Conference game last week. Franklin earned eight first-place votes, and will host Milwaukee Riverside to open up the Div. 1 playoffs.
Kimberly earned one first-place vote in the Large Division, settling in at No. 2 in the poll after last week's 56-17 win over Kaukauna. Sun Prairie, which was tied with Kimberly last week, moved down to No. 3 on Tuesday.
Waunakee and DeForest, representatives of the Badger Large Conference, stayed at No. 4 and No. 6, respectively. The Warriors will host Marshfield in the Div. 2 playoffs, while the Norskies will host New Richmond in Div. 3.
Another team of note is De Pere, which earned one vote in the Large Division and will host Beaver Dam in the opening round of the Div. 1 playoffs.
In the Small Division (300 or lower enrollment), Cumberland fell from No. 2 to No. 6 after suffering a 56-30 loss to Northwestern in a Heart O’North Conference game. That allowed Hurley and Colby to move up to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Eau Claire Regis is the top-ranked team in the Small Division and earned all nine first-place votes. The Ramblers will host Blair-Taylor this week.
Oshkosh Lourdes also earned five votes but didn't break the top 10. The Knights will host Catholic Central to begin the postseason.