Football Cards earn No. 2 seed

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton football coach Tim Simon and his Cardinals host Sun Prairie in a first round playoff game Friday./File photo

Middleton football coach Tim Simon thought his team might wind up a No. 2 seed in the postseason.

And that’s exactly where the Cardinals landed last Saturday morning.

What Simon and most others didn't see coming was who the No. 3 seed would be.

Middleton received the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Sun Prairie in a WIAA Division 1 Level 1 playoff game Friday at 7 p.m. Middleton defeated Sun Prairie, 45-13, on Sept. 18.

The winner of Middleton-Sun Prairie II could very well meet state super-power Hartland Arrowhead in Level 2. The Warhawks are the No. 3 seed in the eight-team grouping and host sixth-seeded Verona in the first round.

“We’re not afraid of anybody,” Simon said. “We wound up in the toughest bracket again, but we’ll play anybody any time.”

Simon and the Cardinals certainly face a daunting postseason path.

Oconomowoc (9-0) received the No. 1 seed, followed by Middleton (8-1), Arrowhead (8-1), Madison La Follette (7-2), Madison Memorial (7-2), Verona (6-3), Sun Prairie (5-4) and Madison East (4-5).

Middleton captured the undisputed Big Eight Conference championship after rolling past Janesville Craig, 52-6, last Friday. Oconomowoc won the Little Ten Conference, while Arrowhead shared the Classic 8 Conference title.

The eight teams in Middleton’s playoff bracket have a .750 combined winning percentage, the best of the four groupings. The other three groupings have combined records of 50-22 (.694), 49-23 (.681) and 48-24 (.667).

“I wasn’t surprised,” Simon said. “You can’t be surprised anymore with anything the WIAA does. It seems that it’s like this every year. One could argue it was just as unfair for Oconomowoc and Arrowhead as it was for us.”

While Middleton’s road throughout the playoffs is formidable, the Cardinals also head to the postseason playing terrific football. Middleton has improved by leaps and bounds throughout the season and defeated its last three foes by an average score of 39.0-8.7.

“Personally, I feel that we are playing really good football right now,” Middleton junior defensive back C.J. Fermanich said. “Our offense and defense have come a very long way from the beginning of the season.

“We are making stops on defense and our offense is moving the ball at will. Now, given playoffs are coming up and we will have to be playing at our best football of the year, I think we are fully capable of doing so.”

Middleton had its way with Sun Prairie in Week 5 of the regular season, but expects things to be much tougher this time around.

Senior quarterback Brennan Schmitt completed 13-of-22 passes in the first meeting for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Cam Maly added 113 rushing yards on just 16 carries (7.0) and scored four touchdowns.

Middleton built a 45-6 fourth quarter lead and the game had a running clock before Sun Prairie added a late touchdown.

“I'm really glad that we get to play Sun Prairie again,” Fermanich said. “They are a really great team and it should be a good battle Friday night.

“All the teams in our bracket are solid teams that could win any game. It will be a true test of who the best team out there is. I really look forward to the excitement of playoffs and to hopefully make a trip to Camp Randall.”

The Cardinals know their playoff bracket is the toughest in the state. But all that matters right now is Sun Prairie.

Middleton knows if it looks too far ahead, its playoff journey could halted sooner than anyone wants.

“Being the rivals we are, we’re excited to play them again,” junior safety Joe Ludwig said of playing Sun Prairie. “We are focused on playing Sun Prairie and getting better every day. We’re going to take it one game at a time and focus on the rest of the bracket when we need to.”

Senior wideout Mitch Bacon agreed.

“As a team we're going to prepare just like we have been preparing every other week, by staying focused in film and on the field every practice,” Bacon said. “The difficulty of the bracket we're in is just something that we expected. We're always in a tough bracket. As of right now we aren't worried about who we could be playing later on. The only game we're thinking about is Middleton vs. Sun Prairie.”

Here’s a closer look at the 32 teams in the Division 1 field and what groups they were placed in.

 

Group A (50-22, .694)

Schools:  Appleton North (7-2), Appleton West (5-4), Bay Port (7-2), D. C. Everest (5-4), Eau Claire Memorial (5-4) Green Bay Preble (5-4), Kimberly (9-0), Stevens Point (7-2)

 

Group B (48-24, .667)

Schools:  Fond du Lac (8-1), Marquette (6-3), Milwaukee King (9-0), Milwaukee Morse-Marshall/Juneau/Languages/Carmen NW (6-3), Milwaukee Riverside (5-4), Milwaukee Vincent/Destiny (4-5), Milwaukee Washington/Science/Collegiate (5-4), Neenah (5-4)

 

Group C (54-18, .750)

Schools: Arrowhead (8-1), Madison East (4-5), Madison La Follette (7-2), Madison Memorial (7-2), Middleton (8-1), Oconomowoc (9-0), Sun Prairie (5-4), Verona (6-3)

 

Group D (49-23, .681)

Schools: Franklin (9-0), Janesville Parker (4-5), Kenosha Indian Trail (5-4), Milwaukee Bradley/Carmen South (4-5), Milwaukee Hamilton (7-2), Muskego (8-1), Oak Creek (7-2), Racine Horlick (5-4).

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