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Fab Five: Offensive line will lead Middleton's attack

In the 1980s, the Washington Redskins powerful offensive line was given the nickname ‘The Hogs.’

A decade earlier, Buffalo’s sensational offensive line earned the nickname ‘The Electric Compa-ny’ for its ability to turn on the juice.

Middleton’s offensive line doesn’t have a nickname right now. Don’t be surprised if that changes, though, by the end of the 2023 campaign.

On a roster packed with stars, Middleton’s line could eventually shine the brightest. And as the Cardinals try making their first trip to the state finals at Camp Randall Stadium since 1987, it could be the offensive line that paves the way.

“Every line has its own stamp on my heart,” said Middleton co-interim head coach Joe Poehls, who also coaches the offensive line. “But this one could be really special.”


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Middleton's defense hopes to dominate

Middleton senior tackle Hudson Cleary believes the Cardinals could have one of the better offenses in the state this fall.

Star running back Bryce Falk feels the same.

Two weeks into practice, though, Middleton’s offense was having its trouble. And there was one reason why.

“Our defense has been pretty dominant,” Cleary said. “They look great.”

Falk felt the same.

“The defense is looking really good,” said Falk, the Big Eight Conference’s Running Back of the Year in 2022. “It’s tough to compete against our defense.”

Middleton’s early offensive struggles have far less to do with that unit. Instead, it has everything to do with the Cardinals’ defense.

Middleton brings back four all-Big Eight Conference players, several key contributors from last season and others that have been patiently waiting their turn.

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Middleton hopes third time's the charm vs. Bay Port

TOWN OF MERTON — Twenty four months ago, Middleton traveled to Bay Port and led the Pirates, 14-6, after three quarters of its season opener. Host Bay Port answered with 20 straight fourth quarter points, though, and rallied past the Cardinals, 26-14.

One year ago, the same teams opened their seasons in Middleton and the results were similar. Bay Port dominated on both sides of the ball, outgained the host Cardinals, 487-232, and toppled MHS, 38-21.

Now, Middleton is hoping the latest chapter in this trilogy will have a much different ending.

The Cardinals travel to Bay Port Thursday at 7 p.m. hoping to get a modicum of revenge. That won’t be easy, though, as the Pirates are 22-3 over the last two seasons and are once again expected to be one of the elite teams in the state.

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The summer of Will

Twelve months ago, Will Garlock could have left his cell phone on in church — or the library — and it probably wouldn’t have mattered much.

Oh sure, the Middleton High School junior-to-be got his share of calls and texts from buddies and family members.

But colleges? To them, Garlock was the Invisible Man.

“I didn’t get a single call last summer,” Garlock said. “Not one.”

Boy, how things have changed.

These days, Garlock — who has grown to nearly 7-feet tall — better have his phone muted when he walks into a movie theater. That’s because Garlock’s stock has skied and the interest from colleges has reached a fevered pitch over the last few months.

Since Middleton’s season ended in March, Garlock has received offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Virginia Tech and Penn State. Garlock has also received interest from schools such as Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Belmont.

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Raffel hangs up his clipboard

John Boyle was fishing for a compliment.

Little did he know, that plan was about to blow up in his face.

Boyle, Middleton’s boys basketball coach from 1991-2006, recently asked his sons Danny and Tone who their favorite coach was during their time at MHS.

In unison, the Boyle brothers both said, “Raf.”

“They didn’t take long with their answer,” John Boyle said. “They just spit it right out. I was like ‘thanks guys.’ ”

Boyle shouldn’t feel too bad. A large number of players that passed through MHS the past three-plus decades would probably have the same answer.

Unfortunately for MHS, though, Raffel recently told Middleton head coach Kevin Bavery he won’t return next season. Raffel — who worked for the Middleton Police Department for 28 years — also retired from his campus support position at MHS.

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MHS golfers swing for greatness again

When you saw them last, Middleton’s girls golf team was doing what they do virtually every fall.

Chase a state championship.

The Cardinals had a memorable two-day performance at University Ridge and finished second at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. That marked the ninth time in Becky Halverson’s 10 years as Middleton’s coach that her Cardinals had a top-three finish at state.

Barring anything unforeseen, it should be more of the same this season.

Middleton returns four of its top six players from that team, including senior Vivian Cressman, who figures to be one of the state’s elite players. Halverson’s deep program always has potential contributors waiting in the wings.

And if everything goes according to plan, Middleton should be back in the state title hunt once again.

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Football Cardinals happy to turn the page

The Grateful Dead probably said it best

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

That’s certainly how Middleton co-football coaches Tim Simon and Joe Poehls, and the rest of the Cardinals have felt since the 2022 season ended.

The past nine months have felt like nine years — or maybe 90.

But the Cardinals were back at it Tuesday morning — and again that afternoon — as the 2023 campaign began.

In the rearview mirror was a bullying scandal, a coaching change and more drama than any show you’ll find on Netflix.

In front of these Cardinals is a clean slate, a fresh start and the hope that comes with a new season.

“We all know the truth and we all love each other and everyone treats each other good,” said Middleton senior outside linebacker Sam Pilof, a Rutgers recruit. “So it was just really good to get out here and compete. It was good. It just felt really, really good.”

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Engling excited to play for Princeton

Middleton boys volleyball player Ambrose Engling was highly recruited heading into his upcoming senior season from schools like Princeton, USC, and UC-San Diego.

Engling eventually chose Princeton, and one reason is he loved the culture.

“It started around my U-16 year, and it picked up quickly,” Engling said recently. “The process of me starting to be recruited to committing to Princeton took less than a year.”

Engling is coming off a terrific junior season in which he was named first-team all-Eight Conference after leading Middleton in kills (233) and posting a kill percentage of .376. Engling also tied for the team lead in aces (45), was second in blocks (37) and fourth in digs (59).

Engling helped lead Middleton to the state tournament, where he posted a match-high 21 kills against eventual state champion Waukesha Catholic Memorial.

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Farrell powers 29ers past Ashton

ASHTON – It has been a changing of the guard this season for the Middleton 29ers, like many other teams in the Home Talent League.

Despite numerous roster changes, an infusion of new, young talent has bolstered the 29ers, who have remained one of the elite programs in the Northern Section.

When they needed him most, though, veteran ace right-hander Drew Farrell brought his ‘A’ game in tossing a complete-game, eight-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over host Ashton last Sunday.

Middleton’s victory in the Northern Section Eastern Division regular-season finale secured the No. 2 seed for the 29ers in the HTL playoffs, which begin on Sunday. The 29ers, who finished the regular season 11-2, will host seventh-seeded Wisconsin Dells (6-7) at 1 p.m.

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Rogeberg to be reinstated, but timeline is unclear

Brad Rogeberg got the outcome he was longing for.

When that goes into effect, though, remains a mystery.

Rogeberg lost his job as the head strength and conditioning coordinator at Middleton High School and as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator following the bullying scandal inside Middleton’s football program last season.

After a July 12 meeting, though, with superintendent Dana Monogue, principal Peg Shoemaker and athletic director Jamie Sims, Rogeberg was told he’ll be reinstated as the strength and conditioning coordinator.

“I’m really excited,” Rogeberg said Monday. “I’m just really looking forward to getting back to what I enjoy.”

While Rogeberg was giddy to get his weight room job back, it’s unclear when that will happen.

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Communications Department issued a statement saying that while Rogeberg will eventually return to his prior duties, it’s uncertain when that will be.


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