Four Fox Valley area prep football teams are one step away from reaching Camp Randall Stadium. But all four face stiff challenges in their bid to play for a state championship next week in Madison.
In Division 3, Eastern Valley conference champion Waupaca faces two-time defending Division 3 state champion West De Pere, while surprising Freedom, an eighth seed and the lowest one remaining in any division, takes on undefeated Big Foot.
Division 5 has Brillion squaring off against top-seeded and unbeaten Lancaster, while unbeaten Hilbert takes on Glenwood City, a fourth seed.
Only Waupaca and West De Pere have ever faced off before.
The following is a scouting report of these key Level 4 games:
Waupaca (11-0) vs. West De Pere (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
The playoff series: West De Pere leads 2-1.
The last time: West De Pere defeated Waupaca 17-7 on Nov. 14, 2009, in a WIAA Division 3 Level 4 playoff game at Kimberly.
About the Comets: Waupaca is coming off a 20-6 Level 3 win over Medford. Although the Comets were held to just 138 total yards, quarterback Sam Menzies threw for two touchdowns. For the season, Menzies has rushed for 1,074 yards and 20 touchdowns, while passing for nearly 1,200 yards and 16 TDs. He has been intercepted nine times. Senior running back Beau Ash has rushed for more than 860 yards and 12 touchdowns. Waupaca, which won the Eastern Valley Conference with a 7-0 record, has a 39-22 record in the postseason, winning Division 3 state titles in 2006 and 2008. It was state runners-up in 1994 and 2002.
About the Phantoms: Two-time defending state champion West De Pere is coming off a 25-7 win over Plymouth. West De Pere fell behind 7-0 early, but scored 19 second-half points to secure the win, the Phantoms’ 39th in a row. West De Pere, champions of the Bay Conference, is led by senior halfback Zach Rothering, who has rushed for nearly 1,250 yards and 21 TDs. Sophomore halfback Dominique Conway has rushed for 15 touchdowns, while senior quarterback Matt DeBaker has thrown for more than 1,000 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Phantoms are making their fourth straight state semifinal appearance and were the 2009 Division 3 state runners-up.
Freedom (9-2) vs. Big Foot (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
At West Bend East
About the Irish: Freedom is coming off a 36-7 win over Little Chute on Friday in Level 3 play. In that game, junior running back Nathaniel Peters rushed 40 times for 314 yards and four touchdowns as the Irish erased a 7-6 halftime deficit. For the season, Peters has rushed for more than 2,050 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. He averages 187 yards per game. Freedom placed fourth in the Eastern Valley Conference with a 5-2 record with the Irish’s only losses coming to Winneconne (33-14) and Little Chute (13-6), both playoff teams. Freedom, has made the playoffs eight times, including two in a row. This is the deepest the Irish has ever gone in the postseason.
About the Chiefs: Big Foot, located in Walworth, won the Rock Valley-South with a 7-0 record and is coming off a 52-17 win over Lakeside Lutheran on Friday. In that game, the Chiefs extended a 13-10 lead by scoring 27 second quarter points. Senior running back Mason Dixon led Big Foot with 201 yards rushing on 17 carries and three touchdowns. For the season, he has nearly 1,800 yards rushing and 35 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Carter Hehr has thrown for 16 touchdowns and rushed for 13 others. Big Foot is making its 10th straight playoff appearance, winning the Division 4 state championship in 2009.
Lancaster (11-0) vs. Brillion (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
About the Flying Arrows: Lancaster, champions of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference at 5-0, is coming off a 34-3 win over Durand on Saturday. Senior quarterback A.J. Day rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns and also completed four of six passes for 199 yards, one touchdown and one interception. For the season, he has passed for more than 1,200 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for nearly 600 yards and seven touchdowns.
About the Lions: Brillion beat Racine St. Catherine’s 41-9 on Saturday in Level 3 as senior Brandon Pribbernow carried 16 times for 182 yards and scored two TDs as Brillion raced out to a 21-9 halftime lead. Senior running back Eric Kittel rushed for one touchdown and caught a TD pass as he finished with 103 yards rushing on 11 attempts. Pribbernow leads the Lions with 1,342 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Brillion is making its 18th playoff appearance and sixth in a row, and its sixth at Level 4. The Lions won a Division 4 state title in 1984 and Division 5 state championship in 2003, 2004 and 2010.
Glenwood City (9-2) vs. Hilbert (11-0), 12:30 p.m. Saturday
At D.C. Everest
About the Hilltoppers: Glenwood City is coming off a 34-22 win over Pepin/Alma on Saturday in Level 3. The Hilltoppers trailed 22-20 at halftime before posting a second-half shutout. In that game, junior halfback Isaac Tuttle paced Glenwood City with 198 yards rushing and two TDs. Senior running back Adam Holmquist added 121 yards and one touchdown. For the season, Tuttle has rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns. The fourth-seeded Hilltoppers are making their 13th playoff appearance but first since 2009. Glenwood City won the WIAA Division 5 state championship in 1997 and the Division 6 title in 1985.
About the Wolves: The Wolves defeated Owen-Withee 13-12 on Saturday in a Level 3 game at Hilbert. Senior quarterback Spencer Schulz rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 133 yards as Hilbert rallied from a 6-0 halftime and 12-6 fourth quarter deficit. Senior Austin Schaffer caught three passes for 69 yards. The Wolves were the Olympian-Packerland Conference Small Division champions at 6-0 and has outscored its opposition 440-71, while posting four shutouts. Hilbert is making its 21st playoff appearance, having won state championships in 1989 (Division 5), 1994 (Division 6) and 1996 (Division 6). The Wolves were state runners-up in 1992 (Division 6), 2001 (Division 6), 2002 (Division 6) and 2008 (Division 7).
— Compiled by Dan Kohn: 920-993-1000, ext. 305, or email@example.com; On Twitter @PCDanKohn