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Richie Gilles photo

After a season-opening loss to Madison Memorial, quarterback Richie Gilles has led Sun Prairie to wins over Beloit Memorial, Janesville Parker and Janesville Craig.


Moving week: Halftime of Friday’s games will mark the midpoint of the nine-game regular season. And it’s time for the Big Eight Conference race to take shape. The only remaining unbeaten team, Madison Memorial (4-0), plays host to Madison West (1-3) on Friday. Two other games, though, will chart the course of the season’s final four weeks. Sun Prairie (3-1), which fell to Memorial in Week 1, plays at Verona (3-1) in a battle to stay no worse than one game behind Memorial. And Janesville Craig (3-1) plays at Madison La Follette (3-1) in another scrum for second-place status.

Lambeau visit: Three Madison East players — James Edison, Cade Neubauer and Javon Boyton — traveled to Lambeau Field on Sunday to participate in the Green Bay Packers’ Quarterback Challenge. They came away with a $1,000 donation to the Purgolders’ football program.

Playoff watch: It seems a little early to start the watch, but … Madison Memorial can clinch a berth in the WIAA playoffs with a victory over Madison West on Friday, as can McFarland (4-0 in the Rock Valley) with a win over winless Whitewater.

Edgewood updates: Last week’s notes incorrectly listed the new site for one of Madison Edgewood’s remaining football games. Actually, Edgewood's game vs. Oregon on Sept. 28 will be played at Breese Stevens Field, and its game vs. Monroe on Oct. 5 will be played at Madison La Follette’s Lussier Stadium.

Game of the week

Sun Prairie (3-1, 3-1 Big Eight) at Verona (3-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. Friday

Was anyone really expecting Sun Prairie to settle for a down season after its opening loss to Madison Memorial? The reigning WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Cardinals have looked like the usual world-beaters since that game, completing a run of three wins (by a combined 133-7 margin) by pounding previously unbeaten Janesville Craig last week 49-0. Coach Brian Kaminski called it his team’s most complete game of the year. Potential state player of the year candidate Cooper Nelson, a 6-foot-5 senior end, has 22 catches for 400 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Verona bounced back from a Week 3 loss to Craig by thumping Madison West last week 35-0. Wildcats quarterback Adam Bekx has thrown for 729 yards and four scores.

Games to watch

Watertown Luther Prep (3-1, 0-0 Capitol North) at Lodi (4-0, 0-0), 7 p.m. Friday

Lodi suffered some graduation losses after winning the WIAA Division 4 state title last year. But coach Dave Puls’ Blue Devils won a pair of tight games and a pair of blowouts in non-conference play, and moved into the No. 1 spot among state medium-sized schools in this week’s Associated Press state rankings. Friday marks the start of the Capitol North Conference season, and Lodi is ready with running backs Colton Nicolay (305 yards, five TDs) and Austin Soehle (240 yards, four TDs). Luther Prep lost a 14-13 heartbreaker to Ripon to open the season but has won its last three by a combined 126-46.

Prep football: Lodi moves into top spot in AP medium-school state rankings

Janesville Craig (3-1, 3-1 Big Eight) at Madison La Follette (3-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. Friday

Craig's dream of taking a run at Sun Prairie came to a screeching halt with last week’s 49-0 loss, as the Cougars were held to 73 yards of offense. That makes Friday’s test at La Follette a huge game for the Cougars, led by Wisconsin recruit Keeanu Benton (6-4, 285) on the line. La Follette, which has a two-game winning streak after a Week 2 loss at Memorial, has taken care of business behind the running of Kayvion James-Ragland (355 yards, four TDs) and passing of Ben Probst (380 yards, seven TDs).

Madison West (1-3, 1-3 Big Eight) at Madison Memorial (4-0, 4-0), 7 p.m. Friday

It has been a frustrating start for Madison West, which has been outscored by a combined 75-0 by Middleton and Verona the past two weeks. Nothing would right the Regents’ ship like a victory over a Memorial team which has handled all comers thus far. New coach Mike Harris saw a miracle finish last week — a touchdown pass on the game's final play — beat Middleton 30-27 to keep Memorial perfect. Quarterback Jason Ceniti has thrown for 618 yards and 10 scores already.

Madison Memorial beats Middleton on Hail Mary pass

Baraboo (2-2, 2-0 Badger North) at Mount Horeb/Barneveld (3-1, 1-1), 7 p.m. Friday

After a pair of Badger crossover losses to Badger South powers Monona Grove and Stoughton, coach Steve Turkington’s Thunderbirds kicked their rebuilding plan into gear with Badger North wins over Beaver Dam and Portage. Mike Wech has rushed for 534 yards and six scores for Baraboo, which could make a huge statement in the conference with a victory over the Vikings. New coach Bret St. Arnauld’s team was shut down by Waunakee but has averaged 49 points per game against its other three opponents.

Madison Edgewood (1-3, 0-2 Badger South) at Watertown (3-1, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday

Watertown is off to an unbeaten Badger South start after easy victories over the two bottom teams in the division; Edgewood is 0-2 after matching up with favorites Stoughton and Monona Grove in the early going. That makes Friday’s game a terrific test of where both teams fit in the overall Badger South picture. Goslings quarterback Ethan Pauly already has thrown for 811 yards and five TDs.

Edgerton (3-1, 3-1 Rock Valley) at Jefferson (3-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. Friday

Edgerton had its shot at unbeaten Rock Valley Conference leader McFarland in the season opener but lost 57-34. Coach Mike Gregory’s Crimson Tide has won its last three by a combined 96-27, and travels to Jefferson for what could be seen as a must-win outing for both teams. Edgerton’s Jaden Johnson has thrown for 535 yards and seven TDs and run for 718 yards and seven more scores. Nolan Klawitter has run for 523 yards and six touchdowns for the Eagles.

Prairie du Chien (3-1, 0-0 SW Wisconsin) at River Valley (3-1, 0-0), 7 p.m. Friday

After both teams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with non-conference losses last week, this battle of Blackhawks kicks off the Southwest Wisconsin Conference season with a key matchup. River Valley fell to Westby last week 35-28; Prairie du Chien lost to Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau 34-26.

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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.