Before we get to this week's game of the week, make sure to check out our recaps from last week:
Additionally, make sure you get your free-to-download copy of the Madison-Area High School Football Preview, packed with 150 pages and 70,000 words previewing the action on Friday nights!
Here's a rundown of this week's high school sports content:
🏈 LISTEN 🔊: Several area high school football coaches are against Big Ten football on Friday nights
🏐 LISTEN 🔊: Sun Prairie girl's volleyball coach T.J. Rantala won a tournament last weekend and heads to Green Bay to play in another
⚽ LISTEN 🔊: McFarland boy's soccer coach Brett Ogorzalek battles tough competition this week in non-conference play
⚽ LISTEN 🔊: Sugar River (New Glarus/Belleville) boy's soccer coach Kyle Webber had to face the defending state champs in non-conference action this week
#18 (AP) Verona (2-0) at Madison Memorial (0-2) - 6:45pm Thursday
Last Year: You can listen to the broadcast by tapping here from a season ago. The game opened, bizarrely, with a safety, and Verona pounded away on the ground for a 26-3 victory.
Last Week: Madison Memorial was tied at the half, but lost 21-7 to Madison West in the battle for Burt Hable's Clipboard. Verona traveled to Beloit and came away with a big 30-8 victory, only giving up a score late with their reserves.
Coaches' Corner: Madison Memorial will roll out a new starting quarterback this week in Jason Ceniti, who saw some action against West last week. Ceniti, a sophomore, was a force off the edge in the week one loss to Middleton. How will he fare against Verona's renowned defense? Verona, meanwhile, is still establishing some things offensively, although Aaron Young has looked sharp at quarterback. Young is also the team's all-conference kicker and punter.
Three Keys: 1. Special teams will absolutely be a factor. Can the Spartans avoid some of the trouble they've had in the punt game the first two games? 2. Madison Memorial's defense features play-making edge rusher Jason Ceniti and a force in the middle in junior linebacker Jeremiah Jordan. How those two fare against the ground-and-pound Wildcats will go a long ways towards keeping the score down and in reach for the Spartans' offense. 3. Verona hasn't quite found what they're looking for in the pass game at receiver as of yet, and as a result will rotate in several players. Their bread and butter is the running game, but they were able to stretch defenses with big plays down the seam and past the safeties a season ago.
Five Players To Watch: Verona QB/K/P Aaron Young will be all over the scorebook, and the more often he's in it, the better for Verona, obviously. After his game-winning drive to open the playoffs against Arrowhead in relief, Young will be asked to turn it loose at some point this year... Memorial QB/DE Jason Ceniti is only a sophomore, but is a fast-rising star in the Big Eight. His play off the edge in week one against Middleton was certainly noteworthy, and now he will be asked to lead the offense in the stead of Michael Toman, the senior all-conference quarterback who has struggled a bit to start the season... Verona DB/WR/KR Bui Clements is one of the top senior defensive backs in the state, and he's getting his chances to shine in all phases this year. On a team loaded with 40 seniors, Clements stands out as on eof the very best on the team, and the Big Eight... Memorial LB Jeremiah Jordan is an absolute stud, and the good news for the Spartans is that he's only a junior. It'll be hard to miss the hard-charging linebacker on Thursday night... Verona RB Joe Riley has accounted for 161 of the 164 total rushing yards by the Verona Wildcats this season, and has scored a pair of touchdowns to boot. After 33 carries in two games, he might get as many carries in this contest.
Tune in Thursday night at 6:45pm! Remember, this game is on 100.9 FM only and thebig1070.com/fm.
#1 (WSN)/#3 (AP) Waunakee (2-0) at #8 (WSN)/#3 (AP) Mount Horeb/Barneveld (0-2) - 7:00pm Friday
Last Year: Waunakee withstood a late rally by the Mount Horeb/Barneveld Vikings, winning 28-20. Javian Dayne ran for 250 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors victory.
Last Week: Waunakee obliterated Watertown 63-0, and the Warriors have now out-scored opponents 112-0 to start the year. Mount Horeb/Barneveld has won back-to-back games 49-20 over Edgewood and Oregon to set up a battle of unbeatens.
Coaches' Corner: If you're a fan of the run game, buckle in for this one. Waunakee rolls out the dangerous combination of Javian Dayne and L.O. Johnson, while Mount Horeb/Barneveld will counter with Malik Winston, who is already over halfway to a 1,000-yard rushing season. Both teams return a bevy of all-conference players at virtually every position, and feature excellent special teams play. If Waunakee is going to be tested in the conference this year, the Vikings sure seem like the team to do it, as Mount Horeb/Barneveld's lone conference loss was against Waunakee a season ago by eight points.
Three Keys: 1. How will each team's offense respond playing the best defense either team will see all season until the playoffs? MH/B has rolled up over 1,000 yards already, but it's a relatively safe bet that they won't be hitting their 500-yard average through two games against an impressive Waunakee defense. Waunakee, likewise, will likely not see the short fields that have allowed them to put up the points without necessarily piling on the yardage. 2. Every team wants to stop the run, but the key in this game will be limiting how many times the run moves the chains. Can either team force enough punts and three-and-outs to take control and force a lower-scoring game? 3. Each team's quarterback will be tested in this game. Waunakee had the pleasure of facing Watertown's spread attack last week and shut it out. Meanwhile, MH/B will be tasked with matching up in pass defense against one of the state's top quarterbacks. A big play in the passing game could open up either offense and loosen some of the running lanes.
Five Players To Watch: Waunakee RB Javian Dayne ran for 250 yards and three scores last year. He'll be likely featured again against a tough Vikings defense led by several returning all-conference players. Dayne has done well in big spots and this might be the biggest spot until the calendar turns to October... Mount Horeb/Barneveld RB Malik Winston has scored a touchdown in four straight games, running for 343 yards last week and three scores. He did see some limited action against Waunakee last year, gaining 32 yards... Waunakee QB Nate Carter has only thrown 17 passes this year, but they've gone for four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards on 14 completions. Four different Warriors have caught touchdowns from Carter... Mount Horeb/Barneveld QB Luke Hagelin likewise has completed only 14 passes on 19 attempts, but for over 300 yards and six touchdowns to six different receivers... Should the game come down to special teams, Chris Petrusatti is a sophomore for Mount Horeb/Barneveld who is a perfect 14 for 14 on extra points this year after going 35 of 39 a year ago. While he hasn't attempted a field goal this year and was only 2-for-6 in 2016, he's got the ability to get the Vikings points if they can't punch it in from the red zone.
(As an addendum to this game, there are literally dozens of players worthy of consideration here. Both teams have future college athletes at multiple positions.)
Tune in Friday night after Badgers volleyball! Remember, this game is on 100.9 FM only and thebig1070.com/fm.
Big 8 (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
In observance of Eid al-Adha, Big Eight games are being played on Thursday this week
Janesville Craig (1-1) at #3/#4 Sun Prairie (2-0) - Craig is coming off one of its biggest wins in recent memory, a 42-6 drubbing of Madison East. Sun Prairie has defeated East and Middleton by a combined 90-6. If the Cougars hope to make this one a game, they'll have to continue to find ways to score, which will be extremely difficult against the outstanding Sun Prairie defense.
Madison West (2-0) at UR/#15 Middleton (1-1) - A really interesting game that could represent a crossroads of sorts for either team. For the Regents, a chance to ascend to the upper bracket of the Big Eight. For the Cardinals, a chance to get themselves back into the Big Eight race. While neither team would be happy with a loss, it would be surprising to see Middleton at 1-2 to start the year, even given their injury situation.
UR/#18 Verona (2-0) at Madison Memorial (0-2) - Madison Taxi Game of the Week: See above
Beloit Memorial (0-2) at Madison La Follette (2-0) - Beloit Memorial got a late score against Verona's reserves to earn their first points of the season. As silly as it may seem, Coach Rodney Wedig has cited the psychological barriers of not winning in the past few years as a big hurdle to overcome. Will those points help build some momentum when they take on La Follette this week? For the Lancers, much like last year against the Janesville and Beloit schools, they have a chance to go 3-0 to start the year, and set themselves up for some huge games the rest of the way.
Madison East (0-2) at Janesville Parker (0-2) - One of these teams will get off the mat with their first win of 2017. East has been pounded by Sun Prairie and Craig in back-to-back weeks to the tune of 98-6, while Parker has seen some tough competition in the opening two weeks of the year as they try to work in 18 new starters.
Badger North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#1/#3 Waunakee (2-0) at #8/#3 Mount Horeb/Barneveld (2-0) - Madison Taxi Game of the Week (see above)
DeForest (1-1) at Reedsburg (0-2) - The path to playoff eligibility begins here for each team, with the winner getting a big leg up in the playoff race. Both teams were in the postseason last year. DeForest bounced back from a season-opening loss at home against Oregon by surprising the Monroe Cheesemakers with a 27-7 victory, while Reedsburg has lost a pair of games, last week by one score, and seek their first win.
Sauk Prairie (1-1) at Portage (0-2) - Can the Eagles build on last week's victory over Edgewood? Portage, meanwhile, has faced stiff competition to start the season, playing two of the top Badger South teams in Monona Grove and Stoughton. Two veteran head coaches go at it in this week three conference opener.
Baraboo (0-2) at Beaver Dam (0-2) - Each team is likely hoping to put the crossover games behind them and focus on the seven-game conference season. It's way too early to count any team out, and the path to four wins and the playoffs starts Friday night.
Badger South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#8/#9 Monona Grove (2-0) at Oregon (1-1) - Oregon is better than last year, thanks in part to health but also due to experience. Oregon got a win over DeForest (who took down Monroe last week) before getting trampled by Mount Horeb/Barneveld last week. This likely represents the best test the Silver Eagles will see in 2017 so far (and possibly the same can be said for Oregon as well), so it will be interesting to see how Monona Grove has worked in some of their new starters, especially along the lines, against a relatively experienced Oregon front line.
Monroe (1-1) at Milton (2-0) - Monroe's loss last week wasn't so much surprising for the end result as it was the final score, falling 27-7 to DeForest, who lost by 10 to Oregon in a turnover-marred opener. If the Cheesemakers can springboard some of that experience into consistency moving forward, look out. Milton, meanwhile, is quietly off to a solid start, and a win over last season's conference champion could be a big rung on the ladder to return to the top of the conference.
Fort Atkinson (1-1) at Watertown (1-1) - Each team got solid wins over Beaver Dam but suffered blowout losses to Waunakee. Waunakee coach Pat Rice said each team runs a similar offense but with different emphasis: Fort Atkinson wants to create lanes to run through and stretch a defense out wide, while the Goslings will try to rack up the passing yards. This is another interesting area game.
Edgewood (0-2) at Stoughton (2-0) - Stoughton has high expectations this year and has faced Portage and Baraboo in the crossovers, and will get Edgewood to start conference play. So far, so good for the Vikings. Edgewood, meanwhile, is still building depth, especially at the skill positions, and they'll have to avoid the slow starts they've had in their first two games.
Capitol North and Capitol South (non-conference and crossover games)
Conference play has not yet started for the Capitol Conferences. In crossover games, the Capitol North leads 2-0, and in the remaining non-conference games, the Capitol North is 6-4 while the Capitol South is 6-0.
#4/#7 Lake Mills (2-0) at Mauston (1-1) (Thursday) - Mauston scored a 35-14 win over Laconia last week to pick up their first win, but Lake Mills has looked very impressive in taking down two of the top Capitol South teams the past two weeks, upending Marshall and New Glarus/Monticello, both playoff teams from a year ago. This could be an entertaining game.
Wisconsin Dells (1-1) at Belleville (2-0) (Thursday) - Lodi demolished Wisconsin Dells last week, while Belleville continued its solid start to the season with a big win over Boscobel. Belleville is attempting a second consecutive winning season, with the added goal of a playoff appearance this year after closely missing out on a postseason berth a season ago.
Luther Prep (2-0) at #1/#1 St. Mary's Springs (2-0) - Luther Prep's hot start is about to meet one of the best programs in the state, St. Mary's Springs. The Ledgers are fresh off of a one-point victory over then-#1/#2 Amherst last week. This game is a little more under-the-radar but could be an interesting battle.
Nekoosa (0-2) at #3/#2 Lodi (2-0) - Lodi's defense certainly looks the part so far this year, and Nekoosa was clobbered by River Valley 44-8 last week. The Blue Devils are considered one of the favorites in the Capitol North, and defeated Wisconsin Dells 35-0 last week.
UR/#15 Cambridge (2-0) at UR/#RV Horicon/Hustisford (1-0) - The comeback tour for the Blue Jays continues in a key road game this week. Cambridge finished last in the Capitol South a year ago, but feel they bring back enough to make a run at the conference crown in 2017.
Poynette (1-1) at Southwestern (2-0) - Poynette shook off a heartbreaking week one loss by getting a W last week, a convincing 48-18 decision over Adams/Friendship. Southwestern is a D7 school out of the SWAL but has started 2-0 in 2017.
Wautoma (1-1) at Waterloo (2-0) - Waterloo finished 3-1 in the Capitol South last year, and has started 2-0 in 2017 after surviving a tough game against Palmyra/Eagle last week. Wautoma suffered their first loss last week against Berlin.
New Glarus/Monticello (1-1) at Lakeside Lutheran (1-1) - The lone Capitol crossover this week, NG/M will look to get back on track after last week's loss to Lake Mills. Both teams lost their games last week.
Marshall (1-1) at Adams/Friendship (0-2) - Marshall survived a wild win over Parkview last week and faces struggling Adams/Friendship this week. Adams/Friendship has lost three straight dating back to last year after going 9-0 in the regular season in 2016.
Marian Central Catholic (IL) (1-0) at Columbus (0-2) - Columbus has dropped its first two contests, and will have its hands full with the Hurricanes, who defeated D1 Oak Creek on the road last week 33-25. MCC was a playoff team in Illinois last year.
Rock Valley (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#4/UR Clinton (2-0) at Big Foot (1-1) - Jackson Enz accounted for 500 yards and seven touchdowns in a one-point loss last week, while Clinton has already taken down last year's fellow Rock Valley co-champion Evansville/Albany this season. This will be one of the higher-profile games in the southern part of the state this week.
Jefferson (2-0) at Brodhead/Juda (0-2) - This year resembles 2016 for Brodhead/Juda, when they struggled against top competition early before rallying to a playoff berth late in the year. It won't get easier yet this week against Jefferson, one of the top contenders in the Rock Valley. Points will be hard to come by against the Eagles' defense.
Turner (2-0) at Evansville/Albany (0-2) - Much like the West-Middleton game in the Big Eight, this represents a crossroads of sorts for each team. The Blue Devils, with another loss would have little margin for error the rest of the way, with games against Big Foot, East Troy, Brodhead/Juda, and others still looming. Turner, meanwhile, plays the role of upstart contender, and a win over last year's co-champs of the Rock Valley would put them directly in the conversation of top Rock Valley teams in 2017.
East Troy (2-0) at Edgerton (0-2) - Not many would have figured the Trojans for being a point-scoring powerhouse, but in their two cardiac games, East Troy has out-scored its opponents 95-89. Edgerton hosts in this one after showing some flashes early in the year. The Tiders are young but improving. How will their lines handle East Troy's decorated linemen in this one?
McFarland (1-1) at Whitewater (0-2) - McFarland will hit the road after an impressive showing in its first two games, a five-point shootout loss to East Troy and a big win over Edgerton. Whitewater, meanwhile, will try to find a way to score points behind the outstanding Jimmy DuVal.
Trailways Large: Palmyra/Eagle (1-1) at AP #RV Dodgeland (1-1)... Pardeeville (2-0) at Parkview (0-2): Both Parkview and Palmyra/Eagle begin conference play after some close battles in non-conference games. AP #RV Horicon/Hustisford (1-0) plays against the Capitol South's AP #RV Cambridge (2-0) in a battle of undefeated squads in another non-conference game.
Trailways Small: Deerfield (0-2) at WSN #9 Johnson Creek (2-0)... Wayland Academy (0-0) at Cambria-Friesland (0-2) - Deerfield attempts to end a long losing streak, while Wayland makes its full-fledged return to 11-player football after playing as an independent last year, going 0-6.
Great 8 (8-player): Port Edwards (0-1) at WSN #2/AP #RV Oakfield (2-0)... Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah (0-2) at WSN #4 Abundant Life/St. Ambrose (2-0) (Saturday)... Wisconsin Heights (1-1) bye - The two ranked 8-player teams in the area get home contests.
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the opponent and final score for Lodi in Week 2. They defeated Wisconsin Dells 35-0 last Thursday, not New Glarus-Monticello (who was defeated by Lake Mills). We apologize for the error.