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Football Cardinals thinking big in 2013


Win the day.

Middleton senior linebacker Matt Hong was the first to speak the words. The slogan then took off faster than Usain Bolt in the homestretch.

“Win the day” has become the mantra inside Middleton’s football program since last year’s disappointing 5-4 season concluded. And the premise is quite simple.

Take care of your business each and every day, and everything else will take care of itself.

“Every practice, every rep we want to outwork everyone else,” senior left tackle Hayden Acker said. “If we ‘win the day’ we’ll also win our share of football games.”

Middleton opens its 2013 season Friday when it hosts Madison Memorial at 7 p.m. And the Cardinals are looking for a bounceback season following a year in which they lost four of their final five games.

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Football Cards shine in scrimmage


Yes, it was just a glorified practice.

And it’s true, no one will remember much about it come November.

But the fact remains Middleton’s football team was awfully impressive during a four-team scrimmage at MHS last Friday.

Middleton played host to Watertown, Madison Edgewood and Mount Horeb-Barneveld — three programs that all reached the postseason a year ago. And the Cardinals were clearly the top dog among the four schools.

“I was pretty happy,” Middleton 10th-year coach Tim Simon said afterwards. “I thought we did a lot of good things.”

Middleton was extremely sharp on offense.

Senior quarterbacks Luke Schafer and Kasey Miller rotated with the No. 1 offense and both had terrific success.

Middleton opened against Watertown, which is coming off a year it went 9-2. And the Cardinals’ offense was extremely impressive.

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Middleton's HTL team into Final 4


PRAIRIE DU SAC – Eric Simon has played every position for the Middleton Home Talent League amateur baseball team this season.

So when starting catcher Kevin Dubler flew to California to attend a wedding and had to miss the team’s most important game of the year on Sunday, manager Brandon Hellenbrand didn’t hesitate to call on Simon to provide some emergency relief.

Middleton didn’t miss a beat.

Right-hander Drew Farrell tossed a complete-game six-hitter and Simon was flawless behind the plate as Middleton rallied from an early deficit to defeat Sauk Prairie, 5-4, in an HTL Northern Section championship game.

“From day one he has done anything he could for us,” Hellenbrand said of Simon, who has caught in the Thursday Night League for Middleton. “To play every position this year and come into the playoffs and start catching when we need one win to go to the Final Four, you can’t put into words how big of a player Eric was today,”

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Soccer Cards ready to roll

Many will expect a dropoff from a year ago.

Some will anticipate slippage inside one of the state’s most dynamic programs.

First-year Middleton boys soccer coach Ben Kollasch hears this and simply chuckles.

Kollasch, who takes over the program for longtime Cardinals’ boss Ken Burghy, recently held tryouts to determine this year’s team. And what Kollasch saw was a record number of athletes trying to play soccer at Middleton.

So despite losing 15 seniors from one of the better Cardinals teams in recent years, Kollasch insists Middleton won’t be rebuilding. Instead, the Cardinals will simply reload.

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Halverson replaces Kenas as MHS' girls golf coach

Becky Halverson knew the possibility existed.

Just not this season. And certainly not with the girls golf season just days away.

Jeff Kenas, Middleton’s girls varsity golf coach since 2007, accepted a job as Dean of Students at Middleton High School last week. And one of the stipulations was Kenas give up his coaching position.

Enter Halverson — one of the top players in the history of Middleton’s program and a Cardinals’ assistant coach the last 14 seasons.

Halverson was hired almost immediately after Kenas turned in his resignation. And while the change provided some initial chaos with the season just days away, the transition should be a smooth one, as most of the golfers have played for Halverson before.

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Tennis Cardinals ready to roll

Deke Bradley won’t try tempering the excitement.

He won’t take the Lou Holtz approach — and dumb down expectations.

No, Middleton’s girls tennis coach will fully embrace the fact that his Cardinals will be one of the favorites to bring home a WIAA Division 1 state championship this fall.

Middleton opens its season Saturday at the Hartland Arrowhead Invite. And most expect it to be the beginning of a big year for the Cardinals.

“We love it,” Bradley said of the great expectations. “I'm going to try and embrace it with open arms. Try to use it to get my girls to play with confidence every match.

“We're the team to beat. We’ll have a bulls-eye on our back every match, so we have to be prepared for that. I'm hoping it will fuel the fire that gets them to work hard to improve and play their best.”

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Disappointing 2012 motivates football Cards

Middleton’s 2013 training camp was just four days old.

The Cardinals had held only a handful of practices and were just getting rolling with their new season.

But before Middleton could move ahead, it opted to look back.

During the Cardinals’ training camp at Glacier Creek Middle School in Cross Plains last week, Middleton took a trip down memory lane. And it wasn’t a pleasant one.

Middleton’s coaching staff popped in a tape of its 44-9 playoff loss to Sussex Hamilton. The reason?

“That game is still a thorn in our side,” Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka said. “And we want to use that game as a tool to get better.

“That game still bugs you because it was Game 9 and we made mistakes you’d hope to get out of your system in Game 1 or Game 2. Things just snowballed that night, and instead of playing as a team, our kids played as individuals.”

Nothing about the Cardinals’ playoff loss was pretty that night.

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Bellissimo returns to girls tennis team

She’s baaaack.

And that’s terrific news for Middleton’s girls tennis program.

Bridget Bellissimo, a senior-to-be at MHS, is returning to the program after playing on the USTA circuit as a junior. Bellissimo’s return figures to make Middleton one of the favorites to win the state title this fall.

“I decided to return to high school tennis because since I've become closer to my college decision, I can relax and enjoy my senior year with the best team anyone could ask for,” Bellissimo said last week. “I've missed playing with my team a lot, and I can't wait to get out on the Middleton courts again, cheering my teammates on. You could say I've missed the whole team aspect, because I'm used to traveling to tournaments with no team to cheer me on.”

Bellissimo was one of the state’s brightest stars her freshman and sophomore years.

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Great expectations for Middleton golfers

Jeff Kenas has seen this movie before. And in the eyes of Middleton’s girls coach, it was a box office smash.

Now, Kenas is hoping the sequel is as thrilling as the original.

Back in 2008, Kenas fielded a tremendously young varsity lineup of four sophomores and a junior. That group grew up spectacularly well, won a WIAA Division 1 state title in 2009 and finished third in 2010.

Kenas went back to a youth-filled lineup in 2011 that included four sophomores. And now that group has matured and seems poised for a grand sendoff.

Middleton begins its season Friday at the Madison Edgewood Invite at Yahara Hills. And the Cardinals will do so with great expectations.

Middleton finished in sixth place at last year’s state tournament. And with its Fab Five all returning, the Cardinals could be poised for another sensational season.

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Ten reasons to get excited about Middleton football

Middleton’s football team went a highly unsatisfying 5-4 a year ago.

Although the Cardinals reached the postseason for a 17th straight year — and made it a perfect nine-for-nine under head coach Tim Simon — no one was thrilled with the year.

Middleton dropped four of its final five games, and was routed by Sussex Hamilton, 44-9, in the first round of the playoffs.

As the 2013 campaign dawned last week, there were many reasons to believe Middleton is in for a huge turnaround this fall.

“We can’t wait to get going,” Simon said. “Everyone around here has been so excited for a long time.”

The Cardinals open their new season Aug. 23 when they host Madison Memorial. Here are 10 reasons to believe Middleton can make a run at its first Big Eight title since 2010.


1. Motivation

Middleton is used to winning — or at least challenging — for conference titles.


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