By Art Kabelowsky Special to Published Oct 23, 2009 at 8:25 PM

If high school sports Web site servers around the state go crash-boom-bang all at once, it can only mean one thing:

It's Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association football playoff announcement day.

Each year, the WIAA releases its playoff pairings around noon on the Friday following its Week Nine games. Each year, the WIAA (and at least one independent high school sports Web site) promise they have arranged for plenty of bandwidth to handle the crush of hits coming from coaches, players, fans and media from every corner of the state.

And, each year, everything crashes anyway.

The Division 1 brackets were posted at at about 11:40 a.m. Three minutes later, the site was down like Frazier until well after 1 p.m. But even that was better than the WIAA's site, which was unreachable after 10 a.m. but came back up after noon - with no brackets available.

Now, however, both sites are up and running, with all 224 qualifiers paired up with opponents and game sites for their 7 p.m. Tuesday opening-round games.

What's more, there's a possibility this could be the last year the Friday information crush will happen. No, the WIAA is not renting space on Google's server farms. The organization is considering a brand new arrangement for the playoffs, breaking apart the conference paradigm and re-organizing football teams into enrollment-based "districts." That way, first-round playoff pairings would be set after Week Eight.

The plan is being discussed at area meetings around the state. The WIAA Board of Control could push for the district plan to take hold in the 2010 season, or they could wait until 2011 or later if it passes at all.

Here are some quick observations gathered from a first glance at the 2009 brackets:

The south-eastern bracket is loaded, with a potential quarterfinal game between Kenosha Bradford and Milwaukee Marquette (both 9-0) on tap. Milwaukee Riverside (8-1) will have a tough go if it can beat Kenosha Tremper (5-4) in its opener, with possible games against Bradford and then possibly Marquette to follow.

The south-central bracket is underwhelming, save for what could be an explosive Saturday, Oct. 31 rematch between Arrowhead (7-1) and Waukesha West (9-0). West handed Arrowhead its only loss during the regular season. Arrowhead has appeared in the state final each of the last three years. None of the other entries in the eight-team bracket are better than 7-2, and three of the teams are 5-4.

Homestead (9-0) appears to be on a second-round collision course with Menomonee Falls (8-1) in the north-eastern bracket. Bay Port (8-1) could be headed for a quarterfinal date with the winner of the Homestead-Falls clash.

One minor event that could hurt Homestead's chances to win a repeat Division 1 title and its third in the last four years: The school's athletic director, Charlie Gross, neglected to inform the WIAA that Homestead was interested in playing host to football playoff games. As a result, Homestead will not have any playoff games at home, despite its No. 1 seeding.

(All games 7 p.m. Tuesday)
South-eastern bracket
Racine Park (6-3) vs. Milwaukee Marquette (9-0) at Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Milwaukee Hamilton (6-3) at Oak Creek (6-3)
Kenosha Tremper (5-4) vs. Milwaukee Riverside (8-1) at Pulaski Stadium, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Bay View (5-3) at Kenosha Bradford (9-0)
South-central bracket
Madison West (5-4) at Waukesha West (9-0)
Janesville Parker (6-3) at Arrowhead (7-1)
Hartford (5-4) at Verona (7-2)
Oconomowoc (5-4) at Madison Memorial (7-2)
North-eastern bracket
Homestead (9-0) vs. Milwaukee King (6-3) at Custer Stadium, Milwaukee
Manitowoc (7-2) at Menomonee Falls (8-1)
Milwaukee Vincent (7-1) at Sun Prairie (7-2)

Thanks to the vagaries of the WIAA's seeding rules, the distribution of the qualifiers has led to some interesting first-round matchups. City Conference champion Bradley Tech (8-1), the largest school (enrollment-wise) in the division, drew the top seeding in the southeastern bracket. Waterford (8-1), which suffered its only loss on Wednesday to fourth-seeded Lake Geneva Badger (7-2) is seeded second. High-powered Franklin (7-2) is seeded third and plays host to Greendale (7-2) on Tuesday in a game that will be a passing enthusiast's dream - the Sabers and Panthers have the area's two most prolific passing offenses.

In the south-central bracket, Cedarburg (8-1) has a tough test at home against Sussex Hamilton (7-2). Despite a losing overall record, West Bend West (4-5) qualified in the north-eastern bracket.

South-eastern bracket
South Milwaukee (5-4) vs. Bradley Tech (8-1) at South Stadium, Milwaukee
Whitnall (7-2) at Lake Geneva Badger (7-2)
Greendale (7-2) at Franklin (7-2)
Milwaukee North (4-5) at Waterford (8-1)
South-central bracket
Slinger (5-4) at Monona Grove (9-0)
Sussex Hamilton (7-2) at Cedarburg (8-1)
North-eastern bracket
West Bend West (4-5) at Green Bay Southwest (7-2)

Perennial powers Wisconsin Lutheran (7-2) and New Berlin Eisenhower (8-1) are the top-seeded teams in the south-eastern bracket, jam-packed with eight area teams. The most intriguing first-round games pit Brown Deer (7-2) against visiting Catholic Memorial (6-3), and Whitefish Bay (5-4) at Eisenhower.

Hard-charging Pewaukee (9-0) earned a top seeding in the south-central bracket and is the only area team in that group of eight. Coach Clay Iverson's Pirates might meet high-scoring Reedsburg (6-3), last year's state runner-up, in a Saturday, Oct. 31 second-round game.

South-eastern bracket
Milwaukee Lutheran (5-4) at Wisconsin Lutheran (7-2)
New Berlin West (5-4) at Union Grove (6-3)
Catholic Memorial (6-3) at Brown Deer (7-2)
Whitefish Bay (5-4) at New Berlin Eisenhower (8-1)
South-central bracket
Whitewater (5-4) at Pewaukee (9-0)

The only area team in the field is St. John's Northwestern Military Academy of Delafield, and the Lancers (5-4) will be underdogs in their opening game at Winnebago Lutheran Academy (8-1) in Fond du Lac.

St. John's Northwestern (5-4) at Fond du Lac Winnebago Lutheran (8-1)

Three area teams qualified in the south-eastern bracket, but only Greendale Martin Luther (5-3) earned a seeding and a first-round home game against Dodgeland (5-4) of Juneau. Heritage Christian (7-2) will be an underdog at Oostburg (8-1) and Kenosha St. Joseph (5-4) will not be favored against host Cedar Grove-Belgium (9-0).

Dodgeland (5-4) at Greendale Martin Luther (5-3)
Heritage Christian (7-2) at Oostburg (8-1)
Kenosha St. Joseph (5-4) at Cedar Grove-Belgium (9-0)

The Midwest Classic Conference has three solid qualifiers in the south-eastern bracket: Lake Country Lutheran (8-1) is second, Brookfield Academy (8-1) is third and Racine Lutheran (7-2) is fourth.

Deerfield (5-4) vs. Lake Country Lutheran (8-1) at Kettle Moraine
Algoma (8-1) at Brookfield Academy (8-1)
Manitowoc Lutheran (6-3) vs. Racine Lutheran (7-2) at Carthage College, Kenosha

Defending champion Burlington Catholic Central (8-1) is the only area representative, but has the top seeding in the south-eastern bracket.

Hustisford (3-6) at Burlington Catholic Central (8-1)


Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Division 4

Division 5

Division 6

Division 7

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.