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Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News

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Walworth County Sunday | Janesville Messenger | Stateline News

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LAKE GENEVA -- Some leaders are easy to spot, while others prefer to avoid the spotlight. Alex Martinez falls into the latter category.

However, the Badger High School senior takes that role seriously, and his cross-country teammates tend to follow.

JANESVILLE -- Speed, quickness, versatility and athleticism. That’s why they call them skill positions. And Janesville Craig’s offense features plenty of them to torment Big Eight Conference opponents this season.

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Shaving seconds off times becomes painstakingly more difficult in high school swimming. But Kaarin Quaerna has accomplished it her first three years with Badger’s co-op team.

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And if she does it again during this year’s postseason, she could be standing at or near the top of the podium at UW-Madison’s Natatorium in mid-November.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- McKenzie Bertagnoli knows she needs to fill two vital roles this season as one of only three seniors on the Janesville Craig volleyball team.

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This is her fourth year on the varsity, so she will need to continue producing on the court for the Cougars to remain competitive after finishing in fifth place in the Big Eight Conference with a 5-4 dual match record.

WALWORTH COUNTY TODAY -- Coaches say that handling success oftentimes is tougher than swallowing losing. Apparently Lance Leipold has patented the elixir he’s been selling to his University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team.

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Leipold’s Warhawks have won NCAA Division III national championships in five of his seven seasons since replacing Hall of Famer Bob Berezowitz, putting them second only to the dynasty of Mount Union (Ohio), which has earned 11 trophies.

STATELINE NEWS -- Seth Duerr knows he can’t sugarcoat many of the numbers: Beloit College’s football team struggled mightily in 2013, posting 1-8 and 1-9 records in the Midwest Conference and overall, respectively.

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And that starts with rejuvenating a porous defense, which is the first-year Buccaneer coach’s specialty. Duerr was a first-team linebacker all four years at the College of Wooster (Ohio) and then served as defensive coordinator at his alma mater for seven years and two more at Tiffin University.

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Mary Dodge’s volleyball career has ballooned so much that she already has committed to play at the University of Wisconsin, and she’s just starting her junior season at East Troy High School.

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But that’s appropriate, because it started with her mom, Linda, and balloons -- literally.

STATELINE NEWS -- Rodney Wedig isn’t perfect. His first team as a high school football head coach finished 0-9. However, his third team at Almond-Bancroft qualified for the WIAA playoffs and his eighth and final group earned the school’s first two postseason victories in reaching Level 3 in 2002.

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“I only had one year of coaching experience and they were talking about pulling the plug on their program,” Wedig said recently about the Division 7 Eagles, who enjoyed only five winning seasons in 40 years before his arrival in 1995. “Everybody talks about numbers in D-4 or D-1 … we needed every able-bodied player we could find because we had 16 or 17 kids, so they were playing special teams and everything. But when we went to the playoffs, both communities closed down and went to the games. That’s small-school Wisconsin football.”

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Many of the faces have changed from both sides of the river. The question remains: Who will make a name for themselves and enter Janesville high school football lore?

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The 48th annual tussle between Craig and Parker is scheduled Friday, Aug. 29, at Monterey Stadium in the second week of the Big Eight Conference schedule.

Another wild and exciting high school football season kicks off Thursday, Aug. 21, but Stateline area teams open their seasons Friday, Aug. 22.

Here is a rundown of the games and some tidbits to look for:

Baraboo at Milton

Former Janesville Craig coach Bill O’Leary now patrols the sidelines at his alma mater, Milton, as the Red Hawks try to improve on their 3-6 overall and 3-3 Badger North records. Milton last played Baraboo in the 2012 season opener, a 48-0 Red Hawks’ win, and tries to avoid repeating last year’s 0-4 start.

Janesville Parker at Middleton

Eric Skrzypchak’s Vikings travel to Breitenbach Stadium for this Big Eight confrontation, the site of Parker’s last win in a series that the Cardinals have owned. However, it’s been awhile because Middleton has won the last seven meetings. Parker’s last victory was a 19-0 decision to finish off a 9-0 regular season in 2006

Beloit Memorial at Janesville Craig

New coach Rodney Wedig takes his first Purple Knights squad to Monterey Stadium, where the Cougars hope to get off on the right foot in an attempt to get back to the WIAA postseason for the first time since 2008. Craig hasn’t won a playoff game since 1999, which is the last time Memorial even reached the postseason.

Orfordville Parkview at Columbus

The Vikings fell, 38-6, in this matchup in last year’s season opener as the Cardinals went on to end a seven-year playoff drought. Parkview went winless last year (0-9) and is trying to break an 11-game losing skid.

New Glarus/Monticello at Edgerton

The Tide will keep riding the back of star runner Ricky Williams as it chases a fourth consecutive postseason appearance after winning the Rock Valley North title for the first time and earning its first playoff triumph since 1990.

Cambridge at Beloit Turner

The Blue Jays grabbed a postseason spot for the second time in three years, which included a 41-6 verdict over the Trojans. Turner finished 2-7 and claimed its only Rock Valley South victory over winless Parkview as the Trojans missed the playoffs for a 21st straight fall.

West Allis Hale at Badger

The Badgers lost a lot of talent from their eighth consecutive playoff squad, but they should be in the hunt for their third piece of the Southern Lakes pie in four years. This is the sixth straight year the teams have played, with Badger winning three of the first five meetings in this nonconference series.

Shoreland Lutheran at Clinton

The Cougars claimed their first playoff berth since 2000 and won their first postseason contest in school history, starting their big year with a 54-13 decision over the Pacers.

Catholic Central at Whitewater

The Hilltoppers reached the playoffs for a 14th straight time since joining the WIAA, while the Whippets will try to regroup after starting the year 3-0 but missing the postseason for a fourth time in a row in the rugged RVC North.

Palmyra-Eagle at Martin Luther

The Panthers finished 3-6 overall and it will be tough to get past last year’s three RVC South playoff teams -- Clinton, Big Foot and Brodhead-Juda -- to end their three-year postseason drought.

Kenosha Christian Life at Williams Bay

The Bulldogs have not earned a playoff berth since 2004 and will find the sledding tough again in the Trailways Small. Williams Bay finished 4-5 overall and will take another outcome like last year’s 41-0 win over KCL.

Westosha Central at Big Foot

Greg Enz is no stranger to postseason football, having led Little Chute to seven playoff trips in 12 seasons. So he knows what big expectations remain after taking the reins from Wedig, who led the Chiefs to the postseason all 11 years at the helm. Big Foot is again favored in the RVC South and has won 50 straight games against Rock Valley opponents.

River Valley at Brodhead/Juda

The Cardinals have qualified for the playoffs for 22 consecutive years, advancing to at least the third round eight times. Brodhead/Juda won last year’s meeting on the road after losing three straight season openers to the Blackhawks.

Evansville/Albany at Union Grove

The Blue Devils -- either as Evansville or as a co-op -- have appeared in the playoffs 15 of the last 18 seasons. E/A hopes to improve on its 5-5 mark that included a 30-21 home win against the Broncos.

Delavan-Darien at East Troy

A basketball game can’t break out for a second straight year, or can it? DDHS downed the Trojans, 70-52, last year behind quarterback Jesse Collins. He is back, but East Troy doesn’t have standout signal caller Brandon Matz.

Elkhorn at Cudahy

The Elks snapped a four-year playoff drought last year, which included a 38-0 thrashing of the Packers.

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