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WIAA football photo: Playoff qualifiers Verona and Sun Prairie

Verona's Nick Heinzen tries to break the tackle of Sun Prairie's Maven Kretche in the first quarter, as Sun Prairie takes on Verona in Big Eight Conference high school football at Verona High School on Friday, 9/14/18, in Verona, Wisconsin

Two brutal high school football truths were made obvious overnight, when the WIAA revealed its set of 28 groupings for the 2018 state football playoffs.

Both prove that there’s a big, bad state out there:

No. 1: Waunakee and Monona Grove are both unbeaten, but at least one — if not both — will not make it to the semifinals of the Division 2 playoffs.

No. 2: Top-ranked Fond du Lac and reigning state runner-up Sun Prairie are state powers, but at least one — if not both — will be out of the playoffs by the time the Division 1 semifinals come around.

Those truths became evident when the teams were grouped together in one of the WIAA’s 28 sets of eight-team groupings — four each for the seven playoff divisions — prior to Saturday morning’s seeding meetings.

Coaches from the eight teams in each grouping will meet to seed the eight teams, and from there, first-round pairings will be assigned for Friday’s opening round of the five-week playoff series.

The WIAA expects the pairings to be posted just before noon on Saturday.

However, because there are four groups in each division, and Waunakee and Monona Grove are in the same Division 2 grouping (as Sun Prairie and Fond du Lac are in Division 1).

That means that if those teams each won their first two playoff rounds, they would meet in a quarterfinal — and only one would advance to the semifinal round.

And those teams aren’t the only talented and/or history-rich programs jammed together in the same grouping.

Joining state top-ranked Fond du Lac and Sun Prairie in Group B of Division 1 are Madison Memorial, the other co-champion of the Big Eight Conference; perennial state power Hartland Arrowhead; Middleton, Verona and Madison La Follette of the Big Eight; and Sussex Hamilton.

Joining Waunakee and Monona Grove in Group C of Division 2 are Oregon and Stoughton of the Badger South, Baraboo and DeForest of the Badger North and Holmen and La Crosse Central of the Mississippi Valley.

Elsewhere in Division 1, Janesville Craig was shifted to Group C, where Muskego and Franklin appear to be the top powers. Four-time defending state champ Kimberly, which lost its season opener to Fond du Lac, is in Group A.

Also in Division 2, Watertown was placed in Group B, along with Mequon Homestead.

In Division 3, unbeaten McFarland was joined with Jefferson and Mount Horeb/Barneveld in a grouping that also includes perennial championship contender Waukesha Catholic Memorial.

Group C in Division 4 is filled by defending state champ Lodi, Lakeside Lutheran and Lake Mills of the Capitol North, Edgerton and Beloit Turner of the Rock Valley, River Valley of the Southwest Wisconsin and Mauston and Wautoma of the South Central.

In Division 5, Group C includes Belleville, Marshall and New Glarus/Monticello of the Capitol South, along with Trailways Large champ Horicon/Hustisford, Southwest Wisconsin champ Prairie du Chien and 2017 state runner-up Hartland Lake Country Lutheran.

Unbeaten Cambridge and SWAL champ Mineral Point are in Group D of Division 6, joined by Trailways Small tri-champ Oshkosh Lourdes.

In Division 7, Johnson Creek was placed in Group D along with Black Hawk and Potosi/Cassville.

The playoffs begin with 112 first-round games on Friday and continue through the championship games on Nov. 15 and 16 at Camp Randall Stadium.




Group A: Appleton North, Bay Port, Chippewa Falls, De Pere, Green Bay Preble, Hudson, Kimberly, Neenah.

Group B: Fond du Lac, Hartland Arrowhead; Madison La Follette, Madison Memorial, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Sussex Hamilton, Verona.

Group C: Franklin, Janesville Craig, Lake Geneva Badger, Milwaukee Hamilton/Audubon, Mukwonago, Muskego, Milwaukee Marshall co-op; Wales Kettle Moraine.

Group D: Kenosha Bradford/Reuther, Kenosha Indian Trail; Milwaukee King, Milwaukee Marquette; Milwaukee Riverside/Meir, Oak Creek, Racine Horlick, Shorewood/Messmer.


Group A: Ashwaubenon, Hortonville, Kaukauna, Marshfield, Menasha, Menomonie, Pulaski, River Falls

Group B: Hartford, Menomonee Falls, Mequon Homestead, Milwaukee Vincent/Destiny, Slinger, Watertown, West Bend East, Whitefish Bay

Group C: Baraboo, DeForest, Holmen, La Crosse Central, Monona Grove, Oregon, Stoughton, Waunakee

Group D: Brookfield Central, Brookfield East, Burlington, Milwaukee Reagan, South Milwaukee, Waterford, Waukesha West, Wilmot


Group A: Ashland, Hayward/La Courte Oreilles, La Crosse Logan, Medford, New Richmond, Onalaska, Rice Lake, Sparta

Group B: Antigo, Appleton Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Green Bay Notre Dame, Mosinee, New London, Seymour, West De Pere

Group C: Berlin, East Troy, Jefferson, McFarland, Mount Horeb/Barneveld, New Berlin West, Pewaukee, Waukesha Catholic Memorial

Group D: Cudahy, Grafton, Greendale, Luxemburg-Casco, New Berlin Eisenhower, Plymouth, Port Washington, Wisconsin Lutheran


Group A: Adams-Friendship, Baldwin-Woodville, Ellsworth, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Hammond St. Croix Central, Maple Northwestern, Somerset, West Salem

Group B: Appleton Xavier, Chilton, Denmark, Little Chute, Ripon, Two Rivers, Winneconne, Wrightstown

Group C: Beloit Turner, Edgerton, Lake Mills, Lakeside Lutheran, Lodi, Mauston, River Valley, Wautoma

Group D: Campbellsport, Greendale Martin Luther, Kiel, Milwaukee Obama, Racine St. Catherine’s, Sheboygan Falls, St. Francis, University School of Milwaukee


Group A: Arcadia, Bloomer, Cumberland, Elk Mound, Spencer/Marshfield Columbus, Spooner, Stanley-Boyd, Westby

Group B: Bonduel, Colby, Eagle River Northland Pines, Kewaunee, Peshtigo, Rib Lake/Prentice, Southern Door, Stratford

Group C: Belleville, Hartland Lake Country Lutheran, Horicon/Hustisford, Marshall, Mayville, New Glarus/Monticello, Palmyra-Eagle, Prairie du Chien

Group D: Amherst, Cedar Grove-Belgium, Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs, Howards Grove, New Holstein, Omro, Valders, Whitefish Bay Dominican


Group A: Eau Claire Regis, Grantsburg, Lake Holcombe/Cornell, Mondovi, Spring Valley, Unity, Webster, Glenwood City

Group B: Abbotsford, Auburndale, Coleman, Crivitz, Iola-Scandinavia, Manawa, Niagara co-op, Three Lakes/Phelps

Group C: Brookwood, Cochrane-Fountain City, Cuba City, Darlington, Fennimore, Lancaster, Melrose-Mindoro, Wauzeka-Steuben/Seneca

Group D: Cambridge, Dodgeland, Markesan, Mineral Point, Oshkosh Lourdes, Ozaukee, Pecatonica/Argyle, Racine Lutheran


Group A: Clear Lake, Edgar, Elmwood/Plum City, Gilman, Greenwood, Hurley, Loyal, Turtle Lake

Group B: Almond-Bancroft, Hilbert, Pittsville, Reedsville, Rosholt, Suring, Wabeno/Laona, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption

Group C: Bangor, Blair-Taylor, De Soto, Eleva-Strum, Highland, Independence/Gilmanton, Ithaca, Royall

Group D: Benton/Scales Mound (Ill.), Black Hawk, Cambria-Friesland, Fall River, Jackson Living Word Lutheran, Johnson Creek, Potosi/Cassville, Randolph

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.