Kassy McCarthy earned all-state honors playing football at Waunakee High School, helping the Warriors win the WIAA Division 2 state championship last Friday.
One thing is certain, though: McCarthy never, ever could have played for the Division 1 state champions at Milwaukee Marquette.
Geography wasn't the issue. Religion wouldn't have mattered. Academic performance was not the problem. Ability certainly was not a factor.
The reason was much more simple: Milwaukee Marquette is an all-boys school, and second-team all-state kicker Kassy McCarthy is a girl.
McCarthy, a senior, became the first girl to score in a WIAA state championship game on Friday, making all four of her extra-point attempts as Waunakee handled Kimberly, 34-21, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. She missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt wide right in the second quarter, and Waunakee failed on a two-point pass conversion after one of its touchdowns.
On Monday, the girl from the perennial football powerhouse north of Madison became the first ever to earn a spot on the all-state team, selected by state sportswriters for The Associated Press.
McCarthy's all-state honor was based strictly on her numbers - her very impressive numbers. She made all 72 of her extra-point attempts and two of four field-goal tries, the longest from 38 yards. She averaged about 50 yards per kickoff.
And McCarthy has been dedicated to football from the start.
She first went out for the team as a freshman, after receiving encouragement from a grade-school soccer coach. She regularly attends the highly respected Kohl's Kicking Camps, has her own personal kicking coach and follows a year-round workout regimen designed to improve her kicking skills.
And Kristi's run to the state championship was made even sweeter by the fact that one of her teammates was her brother, Kevin, a junior fullback.
McCarthy hopes she isn't finished. She told reporters after the game Friday that she is entertaining hopes of earning a walk-on tryout with the University of Wisconsin football team next fall. However, McCarthy said she is open to talking to other schools that might be willing to help her continue blazing trails in the future.
After Waunakee's victory in the Division 2 final on Friday, Marquette proved to a statewide audience just how tough its defense really was. And after Marquette ground out a 7-0 victory over Greater Metro Conference rival Menomonee Falls in the Division 1 final, the state learned just how tough a year it was in the Greater Metro.
Menomonee Falls (which finished 12-2 with both losses coming against Marquette) was held to 51 total yards and 10 passing yards, earned only six first downs, and drove past the 50-yard line on just one of its 11 possessions. The most impressive statistic of all: Menomonee Falls had just four yards of total offense in the second half, as Marquette sacked quarterback Max Poeske four times, had one more tackle for loss and capped the victory with an interception by Marcus Trotter with 23 seconds remaining.
But Marquette certainly didn't steamroll the Falls, as it did while taking a 27-7 victory during the regular season. The Hilltoppers scored on their first possession, taking advantage of a shanked punt by the Falls' Kyle French to march 49 yards in 13 plays, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Brock LaFace.
French, a University of Wisconsin recruit who was named the first-team all-state kicker on The Associated Press' team on Monday, missed a 40-yard field goal just before halftime that ended his team's only offensive threat of the day.
Marquette placed three defensive players on The AP's all-state first team, including senior twin brothers Marcus Trotter (6-2, 220 pounds), a linebacker, and Michael Trotter (6-1, 205), a safety. Also making the first team was defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli (6-foot-4, 240 pounds).
Marquette players making the second team were offensive lineman Nick Rawson (6-5, 275, senior) and defensive tackle Mark Scarpinato (6-3, 265, junior).
French, the kicker from the Falls, was selected ahead of McCarthy as the first-team all-state kicker. The 6-2, 180-pound senior will play next season at Wisconsin.
Other area players earning first-team honors:
- Eric Oertel, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior running back from Racine Lutheran who will play next season at Washington State University.
- Mitchell Ziegler, a 6-3, 230-pound senior tight end from Kenosha Bradford who has pending scholarship offers from Eastern Illinois and Illinois State but hurt his status with some recruiters by getting ejected from Bradford's final regular-season game for throwing a punch.
- Zac Epping, a 6-3, 290-pound senior offensive lineman from Kenosha Tremper\ who will play next season at the University of Minnesota.
- Justin Barber, a 6-2, 255-pound senior offensive lineman from Homestead.
- Bryce Gilbert, a 6-3, 290-pound senior defensive tackle from Brookfield Central who is headed to Wisconsin.
- Will Hagerup, a 6-4, 210-pound senior punter from Whitefish Bay who will play at Michigan.
Other area players making the second team (all seniors) were Menomonee Falls running back Cole Myhra; Milwaukee Lutheran wide receiver Garrett Wenzelburger; Arrowhead wide receiver Russ Finco; Muskego offensive lineman Kyle Costigan; Homestead linebacker Lucas Speaker; Burlington Catholic Central defensive back Will Paulus and Waukesha Catholic Memorial punter Austin Pucylowski.
Other area honorable mention picks (all seniors unless noted): Kenosha Bradford junior quarterback Gino DeBartolo; Pewaukee running back Bryan Spakowicz; Milwaukee Bradley Tech running back Michael Pirtle; Cedarburg junior running back Logan Lauters; Union Grove running back Dan Vyvyan; New Berlin Eisenhower receiver Ian McKechnie; Sussex Hamilton linebacker Eric Reimer; Arrowhead linebacker Matt Boerner; Kenosha Bradford linebacker Brad Slomkowski and Whitefish Bay defensive back Brian Kroll.
Art Kabelowsky has spent 33 years in the sports writing business, the last 12 with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Art was named the Journal Sentinel's Prep Editor in July, 2000, directing its high school sports coverage until he accepted the paper's offer of a voluntary buyout last August.
A graduate of Sussex Hamilton High School and UW-Whitewater, Art has also worked for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse and Decatur, Ill. He has been sports editor in Fort Atkinson and La Crosse.
Art spent five years as a beat reporter covering the La Crosse Catbirds of the Continental Basketball Association and has also covered a Rose Bowl, countless Green Bay Packers games and more than 25 years' worth of state high school basketball tournaments and football finals.
He lives on the northwest side and has spent the last few months volunteering as an assistant football coach at Milwaukee Riverside High School.