With the first week of the WIAA football schedule in the books, we’ve been shown a great deal about individual teams and entire conferences. Here is a brief breakdown of the area conferences.
Big Rivers Conference
BRC football fans, get ready for a great season. This looks to be one of the best Big Rivers seasons in many years in terms of overall talent and depth of talent throughout the conference. Seven of the eight BRC teams scored opening wins and most of them were impressive wins.
Hudson put on a powerful defensive showing to shut out Wisconsin Rapids. The Raiders look fully capable of competing for a BRC title. Hudson faces a huge test this Friday when the Raiders play at Kenosha Bradford.
River Falls rolled past New Richmond 37-7. The most impressive portion of the Wildcats’ game was their passing attack. The running game will need to be more productive if the Wildcats want to finish in the upper half of the standings.
Menomonie looks like, well, Menomonie. It was another huge offensive showing and their defense will likely get better as the season rolls on.
The Eau Claire schools look to be as collectively strong as they have been in years. Paul Kling has the Eau Claire Memorial team moving in the right direction. The Old Abes are fully capable of being better than their 6-4 record last year. Eau Claire North looks to be significantly better than the team that finished 2-7 a year ago. North started out with a 19-16 win over La Crosse Central.
Rice Lake finished one game short of the State Championship game last year. While the Warriors did suffer some major graduation losses, don’t sell them short. In quarterback Kody Novinska, they have one of the most dynamic players in Western Wisconsin.
Chippewa Falls finished 5-2 in the BRC last year and don’t expect a letdown this year. The Cards have a defense that will overwhelm some opponents, like it did Friday in a 41-13 win over Holmen.
Even Superior, which went winless last year, is already better this season. The Spartans opened the season with a 26-25 win at Merrill. Superior trailed 22-0 and came back to win.
Middle Border Conference
Six of the eight MBC teams opened the season with victories. For a conference that is filled with teams that are supposed to be in a transition, this was an impressive start.
Two of the defending MBC champs, Somerset and Baldwin-Woodville, both scored wins. Somerset rolled past a weak Chetek team 46-6. A true measure of Somerset’s ability will come this Friday, when the Spartans host Bloomer. Bloomer is currently ranked fourth in Division 4 in the state, while Somerset is ranked fifth.
Baldwin-Woodville is ranked ninth in the state in Division 4. The Blackhawks managed a 24-17 win at Hayward on Friday, but the Blackhawk defense didn’t put on a stellar show. Expect better once they hit the conference schedule.
The most impressive opening win was Durand’s 42-18 thumping of West Salem, which has been a pretty fair team in past years. It looks like Durand’s skilled backfield is going to be tough to slow down this season.
Ellsworth showed that good things are happening in the Panther program under new coach Clair Austin. The long-time coach at Goodhue, Minn., brought his winning ways to Ellsworth, which beat Elk Mound 22-7.
Prescott was another of the MBC teams to beat a Dunn-St. Croix Conference opponent as the Cards knocked off Mondovi 17-14. Prescott showed some creativity in recovering two onside kicks and the Cards have a coaching staff that excels at motivating players.
Amery started the season with a 17-6 win over Unity. Amery started last season with a non-conference win too, but didn’t win another game. So the Warriors still have to prove they can within the conference.
New Richmond was a conference co-champ last year, but the Tigers have to grow quickly this season. Twenty-one of the Tigers’ 22 starters were new in their loss to River Falls on Friday. It doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers this Friday. They play at Rice Lake, a team they beat in the state playoffs last year. You can bet Rice Lake is looking for some revenge.
Osceola suffered a 28-8 loss to St. Croix Falls. This may be the hardest team to gauge in the MBC. St. Croix Falls is expected to be one of the best teams in the Lakeland Conference, but most fans expected Osceola to put up more of a fight. The Chieftains play their first home game this Friday against Barron and a loss to the improved Golden Bears would really set back the Chieftains.
Dunn-St. Croix Conference
The results from the first week of the season showed that the D-SC football race is wide open this season.
Teams like Boyceville and Colfax, which have been locks for the bottom half of the conference, both earned impressive wins on Friday. Elk Mound and Mondovi, two perennial playoff teams, were less than impressive in opening losses.
St. Croix Central has an offense capable of putting up big numbers, which showed in the Panthers’ 36-34 win at Barron on Friday. But giving up 34 points to a Barron team that hasn’t won in two years shows that the Panther defense has a great deal of improving to do.
It had to seem like Christmas in Colfax after the Vikings pounded Eleva-Strum 39-21 on Friday. The Vikings haven’t won a conference game in the past three seasons, but this is starting to look like a team that can end that losing streak.
Boyceville has a talented senior class, led by Ryan Bloom. The Bulldogs started the season by beating Cameron 18-0. This could be the season Boyceville turns the corner and finishes above .500.
Spring Valley inflicted a beatdown on Plum City on Friday, 38-18. The Cards aren’t the deepest team in the conference, but with threats like Kyle Bosshart and Chase Luebker, they are a threat to win every game.
Elk Mound has won 15 games in the past two seasons. With veteran coach Dan Pedersen the Mounders might be young at the start of the season, but they’ll be ready to play when the games count.
Mondovi’s another team that’s dominated in recent years, winning 25 games the past three seasons. The Buffaloes graduated their two stud running backs, so they need to rebuild their ground game. They do have quarterback/defensive back Cole Ede to build around, which is a very good thing for the Buffs.
Glenwood City is a team in need of star power. If the Toppers are going to contend in the DSC they need people to step up, especially on defense. Cumberland has a good offense, but scoring 53 points against the Toppers pointed out Glenwood City’s weakness on the defensive side.