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WIAA football: Catholic Memorial's Tate Kopulos

Waukesha Catholic Memorial's Tate Kopulos runs past Green Bay Notre Dame's Danny Stewart during the second half of the 2016 WIAA Division 3 high school football championship game Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Catholic Memorial won 24-14. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)


Waukesha Catholic Memorial (12-1) vs. West De Pere (13-0), 10 a.m. Friday

How they got here: Catholic Memorial rolled past New Berlin Eisenhower, 41-14, to earn its sixth state trip and a chance to win its third title (the others were in 2016 and 2012). West De Pere made three appearances in the finals in 2009-2011, winning the last two, but hasn’t been back since. This year, the Phantoms beat 2017 champ Rice Lake, 35-14, to advance.

About the Crusaders: Catholic Memorial coach Bill Young is in his 41st season and is hoping to earn his seventh overall state title (including four in the former WISAA). The Crusaders drop to Division 3 for the playoffs after spending the regular season in arguably the state’s toughest conference, the Classic 8, where their only loss was a 28-27 decision to Division 1 finalist Muskego. Luke Fox (6-1, 180, jr.), who moved from wide receiver to quarterback this year, has several Division I offers to play baseball. He has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 2,081 yards and 27 touchdowns, with two interceptions. Tate Kopulos (5-9, 185, sr.) plays in the slot and leads the team in rushing with 863 yards and 16 touchdowns, and has caught 40 passes for 665 yards and nine more scores. Joe Sikma (is the leading receiver with 55 catches for 947 yards and 13 scores. The defense is playing “our best football of the year,” Young said, including sophomore J.C. Latham, a 6-7, 270-pound defensive lineman (90 tackles, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries) who holds several Big Ten scholarship offers, including Wisconsin. The tackle leaders are junior linebacker Ben Kreul (6-3, 220, 131 tackles) and senior linebacker Luke Hubley (6-1, 225, 106 tackles, eight sacks).

About the Phantoms: Coach Jack Batten’s West De Pere team won the Bay Conference title and cruised through four playoff victories, averaging 35 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Josh Blount (who started as a freshman) leads the attack, rushing for 1,579 yards and 23 touchdowns and completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 860 yards and 10 more scores, with two interceptions. He was voted a captain by his teammates, Batten said. Senior defensive end Jake Karchinski (6-5, 245), an Iowa recruit and coaches’ all-state pick, has 43 tackles and six sacks. Senior linebackers Evan Frisque (5-6, 175) and linebacker Alex Spitzer (5-10, 190) lead the defense with 75 and 68 tackles, respectively. The Phantoms have allowed an average of 7.3 points per game. “They’re probably the biggest squad we’ll see. Very athletic, very big,” Catholic Memorial coach Bill Young said.

— Art Kabelowsky

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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.