skip navigation Preseason Football Rankings: Division 5

07/10/2024, 1:45pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

Stratford has won the last two Division 6 state titles but makes the move to D5 this season

The first football practices of the year are less than a month away, but it's never too early to start thinking about the new season.

Over the next several weeks, will be producing Preseason Football Team Rankings, featuring a Top 15 for each division as well as Others to Watch.

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While things will certainly change prior to the start of the year (players lost to injury, grades, transfers plus players gained via transfer, returning from injury, players improving, etc.), this list will provide a general guide as we look to the 2024 campaign and of course facilitate discussion. Please note, divisions are based on last year's cutlines; divisional placement for some teams may change for the 2024 playoffs; official enrollments for the 2024 season are not available yet from the WIAA and will also impact eventual divisional placement. 

Previous WSN Preseason Football Rankings
Division 1
Division 2
Division 3
Division 4
Division 5 (Coming soon...)
Division 6 (Coming soon...)
Division 7 (Coming soon...)
8-Player (Coming soon...)


1. Stratford

Stratford beat a very good Mosinee team to open the season but fell to old rival Edgar in a Week 2 blowout loss. It would be the last defeat the Tigers would taste, however. After defeating Mondovi early in the playoffs in a rematch of the 2022 state title game, the Tigers advanced to the championship again. In a low-scoring affair, one of the wildest endings in state history saw German foreign exchange student Laurenz Plattner boot home a 32-yard field goal, the first of his career, on an untimed down to lift Stratford to the Division 6 championship, the ninth in program history. The Tournament Performance Factor points bump the Tigers up to Division 5 this season. "We have a lot of returning players from last year's state team," said head coach Jason Tubbs. "Replacing a very talented 2024 class will be the main challenge." There are six starters back on offense, including quarterback Jack Tubbs plus talented receivers Jeett Schoenherr and Coltan Breit. The defense brings back five starters from a year ago.

2. Wrightstown

Wrightstown tied for second in the North Eastern Conference last season, losing to Xavier in a crossover and eventual D4 state runner-up Luxemburg-Casco. The Tigers made a strong postseason run, getting all the way to Madison before finishing second in the division to Aquinas. Veteran head coach Steve Klister, who holds a 203-67 record in a couple stints in the program, brings back five starters on offense and five on defense, with 17 letterwinners returning. There's excellent experience at the skill positions especially, including quarterback Trevor Vande Hey and 1500-yard rusher Aiden Humphreys. The North Eastern Conference will be as tough as ever, with a strong Two Rivers program coming in this season, and Wrightstown will be right in the mix.

3. Northwestern

Northwestern dropped a mid-season league game against Cameron but still managed to share the Heart O'North Conference title with the Comets. The Tigers advanced to Level 3 of the playoffs, where they fell 46-18 to a Saint Croix Falls team they'd beaten earlier in the season. "The team is very experienced with a great deal of depth compared to prior years," said head coach Jovin Kroll. "The group is blessed with size on the line and will be the fastest team in recent years as well. The group returns all their skill position players on offense aside from quarterback, and will need to work in some new starters on the offensive line." There are a total of seven starters back on the offensive side of the ball, including 1100-yard rusher Cooper Lawton, 800-yard rusher Bryce Ronchi, and versatile threat Boden Teal, who totaled 16 touchdown and more than 1400 yards of offense last season. The defense also brings back seven starters, with Ronchi the top returning tackler. There's plenty of younger talent coming up as well, with the JV and freshman squads combining to go 12-1.

4. Darlington

Darlington won the SWAL title last year, going 7-1 during the regular season, the only blemish a 21-19 defeat against Prairie du Chien in a non-conference contest. The Redbirds won a number of close games in the playoffs, including old rivals Lancaster and Mineral Point followed by a 34-28 victory against previously undefeated Kewaunee, to advance to the Division 6 state title game. However, in a wild finish, Darlington fell 10-7 to Stratford. It is the ninth WIAA runner-up finish in 13 appearances for the Redbirds, who have seven silver balls since their last title in 1995. It is a history the vast majority of programs would envy, of course. Due to recent success, which includes three straight trips to the state semi-finals, Darlington will be elevated to Division 5 this year as part of the WIAA Tournament Performance Factor points system. There are a number of talented players to replace off last year's roster, but the Redbirds keep churning out guys ready to step in and produce. Maddox Goebel, a two-way First Team All-Conference choice, is among the top returnees.

5. Saint Mary's Springs

Saint Mary's Springs won its first 11 games, capturing a Flyway Conference title along the way, before running into a buzzsaw against Kewaunee in Level 3, falling to the Storm 30-0. It was an excellent season, but marked the first time since 2007 that the Ledgers did not advance to at least the state semi-finals. Legendary head coach Bob Hyland, who sports a 514-116-2 career record at the school with a total of 17 state championships (9 in WIAA, 8 in WISAA) has 30 returning letterwinners this season, with five starters back on offense and five on defense. "We should be improved on the offensive line with two All-Conference players returning," said Hyland. "We have a lot experience in the defensive line and at linebacker. Team weakness is the in offensive back field. We must replace both quarterback and running back." The Ledgers move up to Division 5 this year after meeting the threshold for Tournament Performance Factor points.

6. Lake Country Lutheran

Lake Country Lutheran lost close non-conference games against Saint Mary's Springs and Lakeside Lutheran to open the 2023 season, but battled back to claim a share of the Metro Classic Conference title. The Lightning scored a couple postseason victories before going out against Horicon/Hustisford in Level 3. LCL could be ready to get back into the state title conversation with 16 returning starters from lsat season's team. Four starters return on the offensive line, and they'll block for returning quarterback Jackson Menzel plus the solid running back duo of Andrew Benz and Nathan Graf. There are good numbers in the program for head coach Greg Brazgel, and team depth should be a strength.

7. Colby

Colby finished third in its final season as a member of the now-defunct Marawood football conference. The Hornets knocked off Durand-Arkansaw in the playoffs before falling to Saint Croix Falls in Level 2. There's a nice returning group for second-year coach Logan Rosemeyer, a 2012 Gilman HS graduate. "We will have a very strong group of skill guys," Rosemeyer said. "We should have five guys, including our quarterback, that can all run the ball effectively." Gavin Voss is coming off a 1400-yard rushing season as the primary ball-carrier, but the Hornets bring back just four starters along the offensive line, where some juniors and sophomores will need to step up. Colby brings back seven total starters on offense, with seven returning on defense as well.

8. Stanley-Boyd

Stanley-Boyd finished third in the Cloverbelt last season, losing to both co-champions, Mondovi and Regis. The Orioles did score a playoff victory over G-E-T before falling to Northwestern the following week. In a loaded Cloverbelt Conference, Stanley-Boyd should have what it takes to compete for a league title behind nine returning starters on offense and eight on defense. "This is an experienced group with great team speed," said head coach Jeff Koenig. The offense has loads of weapons in the passing game, including quarterback Carter Isenberger plus explosive wideout Madden Mahr, as the duo connected for 14 touchdowns last season. There are eight starters returning on defense, including dominating defensive lineman Storm Tiry.

9. Prairie du Chien

Prairie du Chien took down Aquinas and Darlington in early non-conference action and seemed poised to push for the SWC title. However, losses to Lancaster and Platteville would push the Blackhawks to a third place finish. They knocked off Clinton to open the playoffs but fell 33-8 to Columbus in Level 2. PDC should be in the league title conversation in 2024 behind the return of one of the best and most versatile players in the state, senior Blake Thiry. He led the team in rushing and receiving a year ago, is a standout on defense, and is one of the top long snappers in the country. Starting quarterback Abe Amundson is also among the returnees for the Blackhawks.

10. Southern Door

Southern Door continued its recent resurgence, finishing second in the Packerland Conference, going 9-2 overall, and advancing to Level 2 of the playoffs. There's a change this year, as Mark Jonas stepped aside, replaced by Scott Mallien. The Eagles will feature one of the state's top senior quarterbacks in Drew Daoust, who had a combined 1500 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense. They will need to replace 1200-yard rusher Zack Lynch, however. Jerek Valley could step into that primary ball-carrier role this year. There are six starters returning on offense, with seven on defense.

11. Horicon/Hustisford

Horicon/Hustisford shared the Eastern Suburban Conference title with Marshall last season, then made an exceptional postseason run all the way to the sate semi-finals before falling to eventual state champion Aquinas. The team has several changes for 2024, including a new head coach, as Jason Fiacco stepped down and Tim Meyer took over. The MarshFalcons also move out of the Eastern Suburban and into the tougher Capitol Conference. There are three teams from the league ranked in the D4 preseason list, and it will a grind each week. Barrett Meyer started two games at quarterback last year and is expected to take over. Cousins Caleb and Austin Peplinski are talented players up front. Six starters are back on offense with five on defense.

12. Saint Croix Falls

Saint Croix Falls couldn't catch a break early in the 2023 season, dropping four straight competitive games to begin the year, including three by a single score. They were able to get back on track, however, including a nice win over Cameron, and eventually rattled off eight consecutive victories to reach the state semi-finals. The run would come to an end against Wrightstown, but it marked the deepest playoff push for the Saints since a state runner-up finish in 1988. Veteran head coach Grant Belisle brings back eight starters on defense, which will be the strength of the team, at least early on. There's a nice group of skill returners among six starters on offense, but they do have to replace 1900-yard rusher Aiden Meador plus quarterback Jayden Adams.

13. Westby

Westby posted a very strong 2023, going 8-1 during the regular season, the only loss coming against eventual Division 5 state champion Aquinas. In a very tough regional grouping, the Norse got to host a Level 1 playoff game but would fall in a close battle to Watertown Luther Prep. "We will be a very young team as we will be replacing most of our outgoing senior starters on both sides of the ball," said head coach Andy Hulst. "We do return some good skill players at receiver on offense and do return three of our offensive and defensive linemen." Westby brings back four starters on offense, including explosive wide receiver Anders Stakston. Four starters also return on defense.

14. Wittenberg-Birnamwood

Wittenberg-Birnamwood put together another excellent season, finishing second in the CWC-Large behind eventual Division 6 state champion Stratford before a Level 3 playoff trip that ended against Wrightstown. The Chargers finished 10-2 on the season, and in a redesigned CWC-Large, will face plenty of challenges but expect to be in the mix. There's a nice mix of returning skill players on offense, despite the loss of prolific quarterback Nathan Waupekenay and receiver Casey Kielman. Bryson Schmid returns after rushing for 704 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago. He's one of five returning starters on offense, with four on defense.

15. Amherst

Amherst got off to a bit of a rough start, dropping three of the first five games, including league games against Stratford and Wittenberg-Birnamwood. It led to a third place finish in the CWC-Large, though the Falcons did win a playoff game over New Holstein before falling to Wittenberg-Birnamwood in Level 2. Most of the top players from last season's team have graduated, including those that accounted for 14 of 15 all-league selections. The only returning All-Conference pick is Second Team linebacker Sam Stuczynski. Head coach Mark Lusic always finds a way to keep his team in the mix, however.

Others to Watch

Brookfield Academy
Elk Mound
Kohler/Sheboygan Lutheran/Christian
Milwaukee Academy of Science
New Holstein
Random Lake/Ozaukee
Sturgeon Bay
Watertown Luther Prep
Winnebago Lutheran

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball), inducted to the Richland Center High School Hall of Fame in 2023, and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)

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