By Art Kabelowsky Special to Published Nov 06, 2009 at 4:33 PM
Now is when things begin to get really interesting.

We're down to the quarterfinal round of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state playoffs. On Friday and Saturday, the eight best (and/or luckiest) teams in each of the WIAA's seven divisions will compete in third-round playoff games, hoping to secure a spot in next week's semifinal round.

Each game on the area schedule features a compelling story line. The most interesting of all, though, should be the Division 1 meeting of unbeatens Milwaukee Marquette and Kenosha Bradford, set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Indian Trail Field in Kenosha.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 4,500 is expected for this battle of 11-0 teams, and why not? Fans have made solid arguments listing both the Hilltoppers and Red Devils as the team to beat in Division 1 this year - and the teams have done little to tarnish those images.

What's more, the showdown Saturday should pit strength vs. strength: Kenosha Bradford's simple yet devastating offensive attack against Marquette's near-perfect defensive crew. Bradford has averaged 49 points per game; Marquette has allowed only 7.4 per game.

Marquette has been all but untouchable aside from an inexplicable hiccup in last week's second-round game - Oak Creek scored four touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead, but Marquette held the Knights to 60 yards in the second half and rallied for a 35-14 victory.

Twin brothers Marcus and Michael Trotter lead Marquette. Michael, a free safety, has already committed to play at Wisconsin, and Marcus, a linebacker, has offers from several schools including Indiana. Five other Marquette defensive players stand 6-3 or taller and weigh in at 225 pounds or more, and Hilltoppers coach Dick Basham - in his 39th year (he's 349-87 overall) - says this might be the best defensive unit he has had.

But the Marquette brick wall will face relentless hammering in the form of Bradford's magnificent offensive crew, which features impressive size on the line and great speed in the backfield. Despite an offensive attack that runs only six basic plays (with options and variations), the Red Devils' lowest scoring output of the season was 34 points against Oak Creek in Week Four.

Junior running back Melvin Gordon has already received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin, and the 6-2, 180-pound speedster has gained 950 yards and scored 11 touchdowns while catching 10 passes for 250 yards and four more scores. But he's just one of many cogs in the Bradford offense. Quarterback Gino DeBartolo has thrown for 750 yards (at a 54% completion clip) and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for a team-high 1,030 yards and 17 scores. Cody Brady has 821 yards rushing and 12 TDs. All together, Bradford's rushing offense has produced 4,100 yards, averaging 8.7 yards per carry and 375 yards per game.

Arrowhead (9-1), which has played in the last three state championship games and lost to Homestead in the final last year, travels to Middleton for a 4 p.m. Saturday game against Verona (9-2). Veteran coach Tom Taraska's Warhawks avenged their only loss of the season last week, taking a 21-14 victory over Waukesha West at Waukesha South. Brian Crook leads Arrowhead in rushing (650 yards, nine TDs) and receiving (11 catches), and quarterback Tom Parish (900 yards passing) has been an able field general. Arrowhead's defense has allowed only 8.8 points per game, with no opponent scoring more than 14 points. Ryan McDonald leads the Panthers in rushing (1,300 yards, 16 TDs), and Danny Burns has thrown for 900 yards.

Menomonee Falls (10-1) ventures west for a 1 p.m. Saturday meeting with Sun Prairie (9-2). The Falls' no-nonsense attack revolves around running back Cole Myhra (1,375 yards, 125 yards per game, 17 touchdowns, 11 receptions) and quarterback Max Poeske (1,075 yards passing, 11 TDs). The Indians clearly outplayed Homestead on the muddy-muck of its home field last week, eliminating the defending champs by a 27-7 score. Sun Prairie edged Fond du Lac, 31-28, to advance. The Cardinals' seven-game winning streak includes a 14-13 victory over Verona in Week Eight.

The only area matchup scheduled for Friday night pits the wide-open passing game of Franklin (9-2) against the flex-wishbone rushing attack of Lake Geneva Badger (9-2). Conditions won't be much of a factor, as the 7 p.m. game will be played on Greendale's artificial-turf field.

Franklin has faced a tougher level of competition than Badger, competing in the Southeast Conference with the likes of Kenosha Bradford, the Racine schools and Oak Creek. Still, the Sabers have averaged 33.9 points per game - although they've given up almost 20 points per contest. Junior quarterback Lance Baretz makes the Sabers go, as he has completed 54% of his passes for almost 2,100 yards with 20 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 700 yards and nine scores.

Badger, from the Southern Lakes Conference, presents a balanced though one-dimensional attack. The Badgers average only six pass attempts per game and have scored only two passing touchdowns. The key will be whether Badger can grind out long drives with its running game, keeping the ball out of Baretz's hands.

In Division 3, hard-charging Catholic Memorial (8-3) - no stranger to playoff success - visits upstart Union Grove (8-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday. At first glance, the favorite's nod has to go to Catholic Memorial, based on strength of schedule alone - CMH competes in the Division 1-heavy Classic 8 Conference, while Union Grove plays in the mediocre Southern Lakes Conference. But there's a reason they play the games, and for the Broncos, that reason is senior running back Dan Vyvyan. The key to Union Grove's run-heavy offensive attack, Vyvyan has rushed for 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns. Catholic Memorial will throw everything but the kitchen sink at Vyvyan, knowing that the Broncos' quarterbacks have thrown for only two touchdowns all year, and that the Crusaders have allowed only 10 points per game. Pete Karczewski has rushed for 764 yards and 11 touchdowns for Catholic Memorial and kicker Derek Peake has nine field goals.

In Division 6, Racine Lutheran (9-2) has built an impressive post-season run, pulling out narrow victories over Manitowoc Lutheran and Shiocton to advance to a 5 p.m. Saturday test against Algoma (8-3) at Horlick Field in Racine. Eric Oertel, a 6-2 senior running back and linebacker headed for Washington State, leads the Crusaders with 2,431 yards rushing - at an average of more than 10 yards per attempt - with 26 touchdowns. Algoma has a balanced offense led by rusher Sid Geldmeyer and quarterback Craig Kirchman (both over 1,000 yards rushing and passing, respectively). But it's safe to say the Wolves have never seen a player of Oertel's magnitude.

The area's Division 7 entry is defending champion Burlington Catholic Central (10-1), which plays a 7 p.m. Saturday game at Shullsburg (8-3), located along the Illinois border about 15 miles southeast of Platteville. The Hilltoppers lost a lot of key offensive performers from last year's dominant squad, but have rebuilt nicely behind quarterback Brian Fliess (1,400 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards). Unseeded Shullsburg rode the upset train into the quarterfinals, but will need to match Catholic Central's offensive output in order to advance.

The WIAA playoff brackets, including times, locations and score updates, are available here:

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Division 5

Division 6

Division 7




Lake Geneva Badger (9-2) vs. Franklin (9-2) at Greendale, 7 p.m.


Menomonee Falls (10-1) at Sun Prairie (9-2), 1 p.m.
Arrowhead (9-1) vs. Verona (9-2) at Middleton, 4 p.m.
Milwaukee Marquette (11-0) vs. Kenosha Bradford (11-0) at Indian Trail Field, Kenosha, 6 p.m.

Catholic Memorial (8-3) at Union Grove (8-3), 7 p.m.

Algoma (8-3) vs. Racine Lutheran (9-2) at Horlick Field, Racine, 5 p.m.

Burlington Catholic Central (10-1) at Shullsburg (8-3), 7 p.m.


The state girls volleyball tournament began Thursday night at Ashwaubenon's Resch Center, across the street from Lambeau Field, as favorite Muskego downed Nicolet and Burlington beat Divine Savior Holy Angels in quarterfinal matches. Muskego (40-5) and Burlington (36-11) will meet in a Division 1 semifinal Friday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the state final at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against either Kaukauna (36-7) or Middleton (41-5).

In Division 2, Catholic Memorial (37-9) takes on Tomahawk (44-4) Friday at 4 p.m. for a spot in the 3 p.m. Saturday championship match against either Appleton Xavier (34-9) or Sauk Prairie (27-7).

For more information on the state girls volleyball tournament, visit

Closer to home, the field has been set for the one-class state boys volleyball tournament. Six of the eight state qualifiers are area teams. In sectional matches Thursday:

  • Nicolet beat Homestead in straight sets.
  • Kettle Moraine needed four games to beat Catholic Memorial.
  • Milwaukee Marquette swept Milwaukee Pius XI.
  • Wauwatosa East beat Wauwatosa West in four games.
  • Racine Horlick swept Racine Case.
  • New Berlin Eisenhower/West defeated Franklin in straight sets.
  • Westosha Central lost to Middleton in straight sets.

The state tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13-14, at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee. First-round matches will pit Nicolet vs. Appleton North, Kettle Moraine vs. Middleton, Wauwatosa East vs. Milwaukee Marquette and New Berlin vs. Racine Horlick.


WIAA swimming sectionals are scheduled for Saturday, with diving competition in those sectionals taking place Friday night. Area teams will compete Saturday at Cedarburg, Waukesha South, Kenosha Bradford, Plymouth and Cudahy. Top performers will advance to the state meet, set for Friday, Nov. 13 (Division 2) and Saturday, Nov. 14 (Division 1) at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison.

Arrowhead, the defending state team champion, has top-ranked qualifiers in nine of the 12 events in the Waukesha South Sectional, including all three relays. Also top-ranked is junior Emma Goral, the defending champ in the 100-yard butterfly. Grafton took second in Division 2 last year, and Brookfield Academy junior Kelsey Hojan-Clark won the 200 and 500 freestyle events.

Art Kabelowsky Special to

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.