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THE 2020-2021 COVID SEASON…WHAT IF? PART 2

Looking at the WSN rankings written by Travis Wilson, the Large and Medium school lists had a mix of Division 2-5 programs while the Medium also had a mix of Small Schools, Divisions 5-7.  I will include links to the WSN stories, the WFCA All-State teams as well as the WIAA fall playoff (Super-Pod) brackets at the end of this story for you to copy and paste to get further details.  Because of the mixed schools in the WSN stories as well as the WIAA combining Division 6 and 7 teams into their Division 6 Super- Pod, it would be difficult to come go with other potential championship finalists like Muskego and Fond du Lac. But I’ll try.


In my estimation, like Travis Wilson’s lists indicate, De Pere would be one of the top two Division 2 teams as they went 7-0 in the Spring session.  They were rated #6 in the WSN poll.  Kaukauna was rated #8 and they were scheduled to play in the Division 1 Super-Pod but had to end their season early, cancelling their post season hopes, just like Franklin did in Part 1.   The potential matchup of these two teams in the early rounds of the ‘real” playoffs, had COVID not messed things up might have propelled the winner to Madison.


Looking at Division 3 teams, there would have been a lot of teams battling it out in the early rounds. However, the #! Rated team in the Medium School poll was Whitefish Bay.  Not known on a regular year-in-year-out basis to be a super program, Coach Jake Wolter put together a very good squad that beat five Northshore Conference foes including Super-Pod teams Cedarburg and Homestead.  In the playoffs they beat always tough Greendale Martain Luther (34-7) and Waukesha Catholic Memorial (19-7).  I think the Blue Devils would have marched their way to Camp Randall and probably the title.  Sorry to say, I can’t see another Division 3 state finalist for Whitefish Bay to match up with.


The season ended way too soon for Lake Mills (#9) in the WSN Small School poll and Cumberland #1 in the Small School ratings.  Lake Mills went 7-2 and won their sectional in the Division 3 Super-Pod.  I told you that the WIAA moved some schools around to fill the Pod’s.  Adam Moen, the WFCA Small School Player-of-the-Year completed his career with over 10,000 yards in total offense and he might have been able to add another 1,500 if his team made it to Madison.  A late season 24-21 loss to Lakeside Lutheran, a 6-1 team, was corrected four weeks later in a 21-19 win.  Lake Mills’s other loss was to Mineral Point, who had a 6-1 record, in game two, 44-36.  I think that in a non-COVID time, looking at Division 4, it weas a tossup as to who would make the state finals, so I go with Lake Mills.


 On the other hand, Travis Wilson had a lot of schools to choose from in Division 5.  Many would have played each other and maybe one would have been in Madison for the finals. Cumberland was clearly the top Division 5 team with the passing of Maddux Allen and the receiving of Jack Martens.  Martens was named by WSN as the Fall season as the Two-Way Skills Player of the Year.  Blowing through a 9-0 season (Two games in the Pod) Jack Martens ended his career with 250 career receptions, 3,305 yards and 37 touchdown catches.  That placed him #2 in state records for career receptions, #3, at the time, in career yardage as well as #3 in touchdown catches.  Maddux Allen finished, at the time #26 in career passing yardage with 6,275.  With two more regular season games and making it to the state finals he probably would have had 7,000+ career yards, good for maybe 8th to the #10 spot.  Another, “What could have been”.


Number’s two and three on the Small School list were 7-0 Lomira and 7-0 Omro, both D-5 teams.  The two teams both played the Spring session but what is surprising is that they BOTH were in the same Flyway Conference yet never played each other.  Both had good running attacks and strong defenses.  They would, under normal circumstances play each other in the regular season and possibly in the playoffs.  Mineral Point and Amherst were two other top 8 schools in the rankings.  Cumberland was to my thinking #! In D-5.


Division 6 was another question as to who the top team was.  Eau Claire Regis was 5-0 when they had to shut down their Fall season.  Always a contender to win a title, the Ramblers had nearly a clear path from the north to Madison.  The school was the 2019 D-6 runner-up with a 13-1 record.  Nearby, Spring Valley, 8-0, also was strong. In Travis’s eyes Regis was the #1 D-6.  I think whoever won a possible matchup between Regis and Spring Valley, possibly in a level 3 or 4 showdown would have won State.  There just weren’t any other clear D-6 opponents, according to the WSN rankings, to otherwise oppose the Ramblers in the mid-November title game.


Now we get to Division 7 and what I think would be the best matchup of any two teams other than the potential D-1 game between Muskego and Fond du Lac.  My matchup would be between WSN #4 ranked Small School Edgar which went 9-0.  They would meet WSN #7 Oshkosh Lourdes Academy which had a 10-0 (One Forfeit) season.


I talked to Edgar coach Jerry Sinz a while back who said that the fall season was maybe his most challenging as he had players who caught the COVID virus and then, after quarantining for two weeks would be cleared to play but they had to get their strength back.  Edgar was the 2018 and 2019 D-7 runner-up.  If you look at the team’s Fall 2020 schedule in WISSPORTS…Game Schedule - 2020 Regular Season - Edgar (wissports.net) you will see that they had six games cancelled.  They were lucky to find an opponent and so they went outside of the Marawood Conference seven times to fill in the season.  Sinz, the winner of seven WIAA state championships and #2 in all-time coaching wins in the state, felt that this team was maybe the best he ever had.  They played hard, beat bigger schools and overcame the hardship that COVID imposed on them.  They played “up” against available opponents like D-3 team’s Onalaska, Portage and Shawano.  In the playoff Pod, Edgar, like more than a few other D-7 teams, were added to the D-6 tournament (As there was no D-7 Pod) and after first routing D-7 Stevens Point Pacelli (3-4 in 2020) 41-0 they beat 8-1 D-6 opponent Iola-Scandinavia 56-8, which was ranked #17 by Travis Wilson.


Edgar had a balanced rushing attack and its defense allowed only 42 points, a 4.7 per game average.  On offense the Wildcats scored 398 points, a 44.2 average.  Linebacker Austin Dahlke, defensive back Drew Guden and running back Kyle Brewster were named to the first team All-State squad. Four other Wildcat’s earned honorable mention All-State: Defensive lineman Korbyn Bauman, linebacker Brady Lemmer, offensive lineman Max Larson and defensive end Brayden Baumgartner.


The Lourdes Knights relied on the passing of All-State quarterback Joshua Bauer who threw for 2,469 yards and 34 touchdowns.  Josh also led the team with 362 rushing yards and eight scores.  Lourdes didn’t score as high as Edgar’s average with a 34.1 per game output and their defense averaged allowing only 13.6 points each contest.  On records alone these two teams were the best in D-7 and would have made a great showdown.


In 8-player football WSN #1 ranked Belmont was clearly the most outstanding team.  Led by All-0State quarterback Riley Christenson who passed for 478 yards with passing touchdowns and ran 1,372 yards and 26 scores. Going 7-0 they were not part of the WIAA post season, but they matched against Gilman which ended with a 7-1 and finished #3 in the rankings.  The game with Gilman was a 24-20 win for Belmont and Christenson ran for 43 times for 347 yards and four touchdowns. #2 on the rankings was Wausau Newman which was rolling with a 5-0 record before having to shut their season down.


Before getting to my picks, I would like to return to Part 1 of this series on “What If?”.  On Friday, May 7, 2021 Fond du Lac defeated Kimberly 71-47 and the Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper’s sports page on Sunday, May 9th headline declared “A Perfect Finish”.  The story was, well, short.  Barely a normal quarter of a page in length there was no game statistical recap.  You had to look the game up on WisSports.net to find stats info.  Two weeks later, on Sunday, May 23 there was a headline “One of the best games the state’s ever seen” (Who would win Fond du Lac vs. Muskego matchup?  The battle lines are drawn.)  Written by long time Reporter sports writer Richardo Arguello, it is a long, thoughtful look at “What If?”

That May 23rd Arguello wrote well, trying to stay unbiased.  In doing so he polled coaches, players and sportswriter.  One of the people interviewed was Kimberly head coach Steve Joines whose team faced Muskego in the 2018 D-1 championship a 24-21 Warrior win.  Jones had high praise for Hunter Wohler who was unbelievable in that game.  He also said that quarterback Kyle Walljasper and Braelon Allen were the two of the best players he had seen on one team.  The 10 “voters” in the poll were:

Name                                                                                   Pick

Braelon Allen                       FDL H.S. player                   Fond du Lac

Brett Christopherson          USA Today-Wisconsin      Fond du Lac

Tom Dombeck                     USA Today-Wisconsin        Fond du Lac

Steve Jorgenson                  FDL Head Coach                Fond du Lac

Curt Hogg                      Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   Muskego

Ken Krause                            Muskego Head Coach      Muskego

JR Radcliffe                   Milwaukee Journal Sentinel    Muskego

Doug Ritchey                        WLUK Fox 11                      Fond du Lac

Milke Sherry                          USA Today Wisconsin      Fond du Lac

Mark Stewart                Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   Muskego

Hunter Wohler                       Muskego H.S. player       Muskego

 

That’s 6-5 for Fond du Lac.  Each person had valid points for their choice.  Kimberly coach Steve Jones wasn’t in the voting and Ricardo Arguello thought that it would be a tossup.  As you would read if you copy and paste the WisSports links below my picks, you will read that Travis Wilson from WSN picked Muskego.  Now, on to my picks.




My picks for state titles would be:

D-1   Muskego over Fond du Lac…A VERY hard choice.  Defense shutting down a great offense. Or would the Cardinals offense prevail?

D-2   De Pere is the clear choice over Kaukauna in an early Level meet on the way to a title in Madison.

D-3   Whitefish Bay was on a roll and appeared to be a clear choice for the title.

D-4   Lake Mills is a chancy choice but I’m going with the L-Cats.

D-5   Cumberland, another clear choice who’s season that ended too soon.

D-6   Eau Claire Regis.  If they were matched up vs. Spring Valley in the lower levels of the playoffs and won, they would have marched away with the golden trophy.

D-7   Edgar would have been just too strong for Lourdes.  The Wildcats would have earned their eighth title (Which came in 2023).

8-Player   Belmont is my choice as they beat Gilman However Wausau Newman and a Spring season power was Wisconsin Heights (4-0) might have been roadblocks.

 

There you have it.  Read the recaps listed below written by Travis Wilson.  It gives one a great insight to the 2020 COVID season.


LINKS:  Copy and paste


 

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