We made it, folks. It's week nine, which means the end for several teams I cover in Wisconsin.
In most cases, it's a merciful end.
Let's face it, folks, it's been an ugly, ugly year.
Parkview is still looking for its first win. The good news? I think they get it tomorrow against a team that is worse than they are.
Clinton has just one win, but what a glorious one it was for them, as they retained bragging rights over Turner with an overtime victory.
Turner closes out its season as well. I can't tell you how many "What's going on with Turner?" texts that I received this year. My number one response? Probably the shrugging emoji.
Let's put this out there, first. Losing Kenny Draeving was just a huge blow for this team. But the problems were there long before the senior signal-caller went down. They couldn't get a stop on defense, and the offensive production didn't match the talent on the field.
I want to put this out there, as well. I think Derek Diehl is an excellent coach. I firmly believe he's not the reason the Trojans have underachieved in the past couple of seasons. I just can't figure out what it is. Maybe they put it all together tonight in their final game. Maybe somebody will explain it to me. I'll be at Turner tonight, eager to see how they respond to a game that, on paper, doesn't have anything at stake.
Beloit Memorial started the season with such promise with a win over Janesville Craig, but the rest of the season has been, well, pretty much exactly like every Beloit Memorial season since 1999. That's 20 years, people.
Since I've covered sports here, guys like Jon DuPuis, Joe Oberneder and Rodney Wedig have tried and failed to make this a winning program.
Guess what? All those guys are good coaches, who put their hearts and souls into turning things around here. Look at what Rodney is doing up at Milton. The guy can flat-out coach, and it's being prove right again.
We had a story on him in today's paper. He talked about a huge key being a vibrant youth program with parental involvement.
That's the whole key to the thing. It just is. The Junior Knights program that they are starting is a great start, but it has to be followed through with. Football requires a ton of commitment, from parents down to the kids. And it takes years and years of work. It hasn't happened for 20 years. When looking at the roster, it's hard to believe next year will be much different.
I think Ken DuBose is another in a long line of good coaches. But what's it going to take to turn around one of the worst programs in the state? Commitment, from players and families in the district, starting in about sixth grade. It's a lot to ask, but I guarantee you that if you check out youth programs in places like Verona, Middleton and Sun Prairie, that's what's happening.
We do have a couple of schools in the state that won't end their seasons tonight: Old powers Brodhead-Juda and Big Foot. Right now, it appears as though both schools might be lambs led to slaughter next week. That's life for a 4-5 team in the playoffs. While I don't believe Big Foot has a realistic chance at winning tonight, Brodhead-Juda can beat McFarland and avoid a dreaded eight seed.
Regardless, I would consider the season a success for each of the two schools above.
On to the picks, where I was a paltry 3-2 last week and am 44-16 for the season.
• EAST TROY at BELOIT TURNER: Well, the Trojans will win. That, I guarantee. It's just hard for me to see Turner pulling itself out of the funk that I saw Friday night. I hope I'm wrong on this one!
EAST TROY 42, TURNER 28
• BELOIT MEMORIAL at JANESVILLE PARKER: Thank goodness for Janesville schools, huh? I think the Knights can end their season on a positive note tonight.
BELOIT MEMORIAL 28, JANESVILLE PARKER 20
• MCFARLAND at BRODHEAD-JUDA: What a great win for the Cards last week. I mean, I'm wrong about this team virtually every week and have been for the past few years. So I'll predict a loss and hope for the opposite.
MCFARLAND 28, BRODHEAD-JUDA 27
• BIG FOOT at EDGERTON: I just can't see this one happening. Hope the Chiefs can keep it close.
EDGERTON 42, BIG FOOT 17
• CLINTON at EVANSVILLE: No.
EVANSVILLE 42, CLINTON 6
• SOUTH BELOIT at STRATFORD: Definitely not.
STRATFORD 42, SOUTH BELOIT 0
• PARKVIEW at LIVING WORD LUTHERAN: A victory to close it out!
PARKVIEW 38, LWL 12.