Last week I went 12-2 in picking the state semi-final contests, giving me an overall record of 184-26, good for a 87.6% prediction rate. Here's my picks and breakdown of each of the state title contests.
Kimberly vs Muskego, Friday 4 pm
Kimberly avenged a Week 1 loss to Fond du Lac, which ended the Papermakers' 70-game winning streak, by knocking off the Cardinals in an overtime thriller last week, as they're back at state in search of a record-tying sixth consecutive title. This will be a different kind of team from what they've faced most of the year or in past championship contests. Muskego's Wing-T offense is loaded with playmakers that make the misdirection running game very explosive.
My Pick: Kimberly 27, Muskego 23
D1 Last Week: 2-0
D1 Overall: 30-0; 100%
Homestead vs Brookfield Central, Friday 1 pm
Brookfield Central avenged last year's disappointing title game loss to Waunakee in the state semi-finals, but the Lancers now have to finish the job at Camp Randall. They've shown they can win in multiple ways, with a defense that has been dominating at times and an offense loaded with playmakers. Homestead keeps doing Homestead things under Dave Keel, who has already won five titles with the Highlanders. Their backfield of quarterback Emory Weeden and running backs Jared Schneider and Willie Garrison doesn't have gaudy individual stats, but as a collective they have been as good as any.
My Pick: Brookfield Central 22, Homestead 21
D2 Last Week: 1-1
D2 Overall: 25-5; 83.3%
West De Pere vs Catholic Memorial, Friday 10 am
Some exceptional defensive players will be on display in this game, including West De Pere's Jake Karchinski, an Iowa commit. Across the way, CMH has a number of scholarship-level underclassmen, led by sophomore lineman J.C. Latham, who has offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, and a host of others. Juniors Cole Dakovich and Ben Kreul are D1 prospects at linebacker. The offenses can't be overlooked though, as the quarterbacks for both teams, Luke Fox of Catholic Memorial and Josh Blount of West De Pere, are highly productive.
My Pick: Catholic Memorial 23, West De Pere 20
D3 Last Week: 2-0
D3 Overall: 27-3; 90%
Saint Croix Central vs Racine St. Catherine's, Thursday 7 pm
This is a very compelling state title game match-up with a contrast in styles offensively. Saint Croix Central, the runner-up last year after a 2016 state title, is an option team that will pound away over and over in the running game. In the last two title game, the Panthers have a total of eight pass attempts and 131 rushing attempts. Racine St. Catherine's will throw the ball a bit more, but is still mostly a running team, but they do it out of a shotgun spread formation. The Angels feature a number of explosive playmakers, led by quarterback Da'Shaun Brown, a WFCA All-State choice who has gone over 1,000 yards passing and rushing the last three years.
My Pick: Saint Croix Central 29, Racine St. Catherine's 25
D4 Last Week: 2-0
D4 Overall: 25-5; 83.3%
Stratford vs Saint Mary's Springs, Thursday 4 pm
This is a state title game match-up we've seen previously not once, but twice. During Stratford's run of six consecutive titles, the Tigers defeat Springs 29-13 in 2003 and 25-7 in 2005. In fact, while Saint Mary's Springs has won seven of the 10 WIAA championship games it has been in previously, the three losses all came against Marawood Conference opponents, the league Stratford belongs to. Now, none of that plays a direct role this year, but interesting to note nonetheless. Springs rolls in unbeaten for a second straight year after a blowout of Lake Country Lutheran last week. The Ledgers are big and strong up front with a number of talented athletes at the skill positions. Stratford can match that size up front, especially with two-way junior lineman Ben Barten, a recent Wisconsin commit. Can they match up with the athletes on the outside, however?
My Pick: Saint Mary's Springs 28, Stratford 20
D5 Last Week: 1-1
D5 Overall: 25-5; 83.3%
Iola-Scandinavia vs Racine Lutheran, Thursday 1 pm
Two big, physical run-heavy teams meet up with elite running backs on each side. Iola-Scandinavia's Bryce Huettner broke the state's all-time career rushing record last week in a win over Grantsburg. Racine Lutheran junior Tyler Tenner has two straight 300-yard rushing performances and is actually ahead of where Huettner was after his junior season.
My Pick: Iola-Scandinavia 27, Racine Lutheran 25
D6 Last Week: 2-0
D6 Overall: 26-4; 86.7%
Edgar vs Black Hawk, Thursday 10 am
Black Hawk avenged last year's title game loss to Bangor by beating the Cardinals in the state semi-finals, but now head coach Cory Milz and company are looking to complete the deal at Camp Randall. They'll get an Edgar squad that has recorded eight shutouts in 13 games so far this year, allowing a total of just 43 points. Jerry Sinz is looking to become the first head coach (Bob Hyland could match with a win in D5) to win eight WIAA state championships.
My Pick: Edgar 29, Black Hawk 21
D7 Last Week: 2-0
D7 Overall: 26-4; 86.7%
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