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Here's what to know as WIAA football playoffs open with Big Eight showdown between Madison Memorial, Middleton
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WIAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Here's what to know as WIAA football playoffs open with Big Eight showdown between Madison Memorial, Middleton

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Madison Edgewood's Mateo Jimenez stiff-arms Monroe's Kaden Kuester in the second quarter, as Monroe takes on Madison Edgewood in Wisconsin boys high school football on Friday, Oct. 15 at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.

The WIAA high school football postseason begins this week. Here are six games involving area teams to watch.

While most WIAA football programs have opted to play a shortened fall schedule due to COVID-19, most Madison-area high schools — including the entire Big Eight Conference and every Rock Valley Conference school except Madison Edgewood — have committed to an alternative spring season, leaving their stadiums eerily empty this fall.

Friday’s games

Sixth-seeded Madison Memorial (5-4) at third-seeded Middleton (6-3), Division 1, 7 p.m.  — Big Eight Conference foes meet in the first round. Middleton finished 6-1 and second in the league standings while Memorial was 4-3 and tied with Verona for third. Middleton defeated Memorial 44-6 Sept. 24 as Cole Toennies caught two touchdown passes and returned a punt for a score and Gabe Passini threw for three touchdowns. The Cardinals come off a 47-6 victory over Madison East in last week’s regular-season finale. Elijah Gray ran for three scores. Memorial defeated Beloit Memorial 17-14 as Charles Erlandson had two touchdown passes — one apiece to Cole Hendrickson and Devion Fountain.

Here's why Middleton's football coach compares versatile Cole Toennies to former UW player, pro Nick Toon

Fifth-seeded Verona (6-3) at fourth-seeded Fond du Lac (5-4), Division 1, 7 p.m.   Verona comes off a 38-35 overtime loss to Sun Prairie, which had to rally to win and secure the outright Big Eight title. Verona had leads of 28-20 and 35-32. Mason Fink threw four of the Wildcats’ five touchdown passes. Cole Jannusch had three touchdown catches and Michael Valitchka had two scoring receptions. Fond du Lac finished tied for third with Kaukauna in the Fox Valley Association. Fond du Lac, which features a balanced offensive attack, defeated Oshkosh West 14-13. Verona defeated Oshkosh West 17-14 in non-conference action. The winner will face either eighth-seeded Madison La Follette or top-seeded Sun Prairie. Verona coach Dave Richardson plans to retire after the season.

Sixth-seeded New Richmond (6-3) at third-seeded DeForest (8-1), Division 2, 7 p.m. — DeForest finished second in the Badger Large Conference behind champion Waunakee. The Norskies were ranked sixth in the Medium Division in the final Associated Press football poll. DeForest opened a 28-7 halftime lead and defeated Janesville Parker 48-35. Mason Keyes threw three touchdown passes, and Cale Drinka ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns. New Richmond finished 4-3 and tied for fourth with Hudson in the Big Rivers Conference. New Richmond, which features a run-heavy offense, dropped a 44-28 decision to Rice Lake.

Seventh-seeded Onalaska (5-4) vs. second-seeded Mount Horeb/Barneveld (8-1), Division 3, 7 p.m. in Mount Horeb — Mount Horeb/Barneveld finished off a strong regular season with a 20-13 victory over Reedsburg that left it 6-1 in the Badger Small Conference and sharing the league title with Fort Atkinson. Kolton Schaller threw two touchdown passes against Reedsburg. Onalaska finished fourth in the Mississippi Valley Conference. The Hilltoppers defeated Tomah 51-13 as Ayden Larson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. Larson has completed 71.3% of his passes and thrown 18 touchdowns, with two interceptions.

Seventh-seeded Lakeside Lutheran (4-5) at second-seeded Columbus (8-1), Division 4, 7 p.m. — The Capitol Conference foes meet in a first-round playoff game that is a rematch of last week’s league contest. Columbus defeated Lakeside Lutheran 49-21 behind Colton Brunell’s 286 yards rushing and four touchdown runs and Nathan Cotter’s two touchdown passes. Columbus, ranked ninth in the Medium Division of the AP poll, finished 6-1 in conference play (a loss via forfeit to Walworth Big Foot) and shared the Capitol crown with Lake Mills. Lakeside Lutheran, which was 4-3 and fourth in the Capitol, will bank on the running and passing of Kooper Mlsna.

Eighth-seeded River Valley (5-4) at top-seeded Marshall (9-0), Division 5, 7 p.m. — Marshall earned the Eastern Suburban Conference championship for the second consecutive season, winning the league title with a 33-22 victory over Markesan last week. Craig Ward tossed four touchdown passes, Bryce Frank had a touchdown run and a TD reception, and Canon Siedschlag had two TD catches. Marshall wound up tied for fourth with Highland in the Small Division of the AP state poll. River Valley’s defense, led by Zach Gloudeman (nine tackles, two sacks) and Ethan Hillebrand (eight tackles), was stingy in a 10-7 loss to Richland Center. River Valley tied with Prairie du Chien for third in the SWC with 4-3 records.

This report includes information and statistics from the State Journal, teams, other reports and WisSports.net.                                                                                          — Jon Masson 

— Jon Masson

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.

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