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Cross Plains' HTL team ousts Middleton

It has been a long wait for Kenny Allen and the Cross Plains Businessmen.

Since winning the 2011 Home Talent League Sunday championship, there have been some close calls, but no more trips to the league’s final round of four teams.

Until now.

Allen tossed a complete game and had two hits, Will Doherty hit a solo home run and sixth-seeded Cross Plains played outstanding defense to hold off second-seeded Middleton, 2-1, in the HTL Northern Section championship game at Sorenson-Bakken Field on Sunday.

“Kenny pitched all but four innings and we played the top three teams,” said Cross Plains manager Randy Meinholz, who was fighting back the tears after the Businessmen won their third straight playoff game on the road.

“But it’s not only pitching. The defense was unbelievable. I’m so damn proud of these guys.”

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Middleton's offense figures to be potent

Every November, Middleton co-head football coach Tim Simon heads to Camp Randall to watch the state football championship games. And every time, Simon has the same thought.

“I always think this could be and it should be us,” Simon said.

Jason Pertzborn, who will also serve as Middleton’s co-head coach this year, has a similar feeling.

“We should be there,” Pertzborn said. “Absolutely.”

Maybe, just maybe Middleton can make a run at its first state title since 1987 this season.

The Cardinals, who finished second in the Big Eight last year at 8-1 and went 9-2 overall, were picked to win the conference in a preseason vote of league coaches.

Middleton’s defense is always in good hands with veteran coordinator Tom Cabalka. And an offense that averaged 31.8 points per game could be even better.

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Middleton's defense should be stout

Tom Cabalka still hasn’t watched the tape.

He can’t. He won’t.

“It’s too tough,” Middleton’s defensive coordinator said.

And how.

Middleton led Madison West, 27-23, in the closing seconds of a WIAA Division 1 Level 2 playoff game last October. But on a fourth and goal with 15 seconds left, West’s Keishawn Shanklin scored from 1-yard out to give West a 30-27 win.

In the 10 months since, Cabalka hasn’t watched the film. And he’s certain he won’t until later this month, when Middleton and West meet in Week 3 of the regular season.

“The tough part is we had so many opportunities to make stops and we didn’t,” Cabalka said. “Their athletic ability was better than ours … and we just didn’t make the plays.”

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MHS swimmers poised for another great year

They will do everything possible not to look ahead. Not to focus on tomorrow before they’ve conquered today.

That’s because Middleton’s girls swimming and diving team knows that staying in the here and now will take them exactly where they want to go come November.

The Cardinals have won back-to-back WIAA Division 1 state championships — the first titles in school history. With the overwhelming majority of state contributors returning in 2018, Middleton will be the favorite to make it a three-peat this season.

But Middleton coach Lauren Cabalka and her Cardinals fully intend to enjoy every stroke of the journey. So while everyone else may already be putting a third gold ball in Middleton’s trophy case, Cabalka isn’t one of them.

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Girls golfers thinking big again

The unknown is far greater than in recent seasons.

The end result, though, is expected to be the same.

Middleton’s girls golf team, a state power for more than two decades, has reached the WIAA Division 1 state tournament six consecutive years and eight of the last nine. But the Cardinals have some major holes to fill this fall.

Middleton lost three of its top five players from last year’s team that finished eighth at state, including Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and all-state performer Payton Hodson. But the cupboard is never bare at Middleton, and coach Becky Halverson believes her newest group of varsity players can keep the Cardinals’ tradition of greatness alive.

“Long term, our goals will remain the same as previous years,” said Halverson, whose team opens the year Thursday at the Verona Invite at Edelweiss. “We would like to win our conference and get through regionals and sectionals to the state tournament.”  

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Jorgensen named Middleton's new baseball coach

Brent Jorgensen, Middleton’s coaching equivalent to the three-sport athlete, was doing what he’s always doing last week.


Jorgensen, the 27-year-old with the energy to coach three different sports at MHS, was taking a break from the freshman football team he runs. That’s when Middleton athletic director Bob Joers made Jorgensen’s day — and really, his summer.

Joers offered Jorgensen Middleton’s varsity baseball job, which he accepted in roughly 1.5 seconds. Jorgensen replaces Tom Schmitt, who resigned in June after a memorable 16-year run that included a state championship in 2003.

Jorgensen beat out 12 other candidates for the job, including four with head coaching experience.

“It’s a great opportunity and I gratefully accepted in a hurry,” Jorgensen said. “For some people, a job like this would be a little daunting. But for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.”

That’s for sure.

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Simon makes a first class move

The coaching profession is a dog eat dog world.

Grown men everywhere fight their way up the ladder, then they try to pummel each other on the gridiron.

So what happened at Middleton High School recently isn’t just rare. It’s almost unprecedented.

Cardinals head coach Tim Simon — in the prime of his coaching life at 51 years old — decided to turn the coaching reigns over to offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn as early as 2019.

Pertzborn, a 1990 Middleton graduate, had always aspired to be the head coach at his alma mater. But with Simon still a young man and Pertzborn exploring other coaching opportunities, Simon called one of the most selfless audibles you’ll ever see.

Now, Simon and Pertzborn will operate as co-head coaches this season. Then, if everything goes well, the 47-year-old Pertzborn will become the head coach in 2019 and Simon will become the assistant head coach.

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Middleton's new turf field completed

Bob Joers had taken enough ribbing.

For 11 years, Middleton’s athletic director received plenty of compliments about the turf field at Otto Breitenbach Stadium. But Joers always heard the same complaint from the Middleton faithful.

“We’ve heard for a long time that the red (on the field) is Sun Prairie red,” Joers said.

Not anymore.

Middleton recently had a new turf field installed — and the red is definitely “Middleton red.”

Sun Prairie’s red is lighter and brighter than Middleton’s. After studying several samples, Joers picked a red that was darker and far more representative of Middleton’s true colors.

“When we were looking, we had samples and I was like, ‘I don’t think it’s any different,’ ” Joers said. “It looked different in the sample, looks a little darker, but we weren’t sure. But turns out, it’s definitely a little darker.”

Middleton football coach Tim Simon agreed.

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Ten MHS baseball players named all-Big 8

The case can certainly be made that Tom Schmitt — the only man to ever lead Middleton’s baseball team to a state championship — is the finest manager in school history.

It could also be argued that Alan Roden is the best player Schmitt ever coached.

So it was fitting that both Schmitt and Roden were honored when the Big Eight Conference handed out its postseason awards recently.

Schmitt was named the league’s manager of the year after guiding the Cardinals to a share of the conference title, their first since 2010. Roden earned first-team all-conference honors and was second in the voting for league player of the year honors.

“It was a nice honor made possible by a hard working group of kids that were out to accomplish what others thought they could not,” said Schmitt, who stepped down as the Cardinals’ skipper at the end of the season. “Picked fourth in the preseason, we worked to prove ourselves and along with that comes recognition.  

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Changing of the guard inside Middleton football

It was mid-December, when Middleton head football coach Tim Simon called a meeting with offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn.

Pertzborn was a finalist for the Madison Memorial head coaching job. And after days of contemplation, examination and introspection, Simon had an idea that would keep Pertzborn inside the program he’s been part of for more than three decades.

Simon, set to begin his 15th season as the Cardinals’ boss next month, wanted to elevate Pertzborn to the position of co-head coach for the 2018 season. Then if everything goes smoothly this fall, Pertzborn is expected to become Middleton’s head coach in 2019 — and beyond.

“It was a huge surprise and I really appreciate it,” Pertzborn said. “It’s certainly not something Tim had to do. When I went to talk to him that day, that was the farthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t ready for that.”


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