MADISON, Wis. – Seven champions were crowned at the 2023 WIAA State Football Championships at Camp Randall Stadium this week.
Marquette (12-2) surged in the second half to post a 27-10 victory over previously undefeated Franklin (13-1) in the Division 1 championship game Friday evening.
Both teams were held scoreless until late in the first quarter. The Hilltoppers scored first at 2:44 on a 44-yard pass completion from Peter McDevitt to Cam Russell, and the Sabers came back to tie the score at 7-7 on their ensuing possession. A Joey Kallay-to-Andrew Human pass and catch covered the final 14 yards of an 80-yard drive with 1:37 to play in the period.
Both teams added field goals in the second quarter to head into halftime with the score knotted at 10-10.
Marquette gained control of the game in the second half on a pair of Tommy Novotny touchdown runs. His 1-yard run at 3:26 of the third quarter led to a 17-10 lead, and his 2-yard carry with 10:54 to play in the game expanded Marquette’s lead to 24-10. Erik Schmidt added his second field goal of the game with 3:32 to play to close out the scoring.
Novotny and McDevitt fueled the Hillstoppers’ offense. Novotny rushed for a game-high 167 yards and two touchdowns, and McDevitt completed 11-of-19 passes for 155 yards and a score. Three different receive caught three passes, including Russell, who led the team in receiving yards with 64. On the defense side of the ball, Marquette limited Franklin to three yards rushing in the game, which is the lowest total recorded in a Division 1 championship game. Mitchell Nigro led the team with eight tackles, and Murphy Montreal intercepted a pass with a 31-yard return.
Kallay led the Sabers’ offense by throwing for 220 yards by completing 20-of-36 passes, which is one short of the Division 1 record for both completions and attempts. Jacques Brooks was the leading receiver in the game with eight catches for 100 yards. Defensively, Immanuel Joseph made a game-high 12 tackles and Talan Summers contributed with 10 stops.
The Hilltoppers win their second State championship in as many State final appearances, and Franklin finishes runner-up in its fifth State experience.
Badger (14-0) won the battle of undefeated teams by escaping with a 34-33 victory over Waunakee (13-1) in the Division 3 championship game Friday afternoon.
The Warriors scored a touchdown to draw within a point at 34-33 with 40 seconds remaining in the game. Waunakee decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion, but the two-point pass attempt fell incomplete, preserving the one-point lead and victory for the Badgers.
The game featured the quick-strike capabilities of the Warriors and the ball-control running game of the Badgers. The average time of possession for the five Waunakee drives was one minute and 22 seconds. The powerful Badger ground game amassed 451 yards in the game to set a new Division 2 State championship record.
After a scoreless first quarter, Waunakee led 14-13 at the half. A 2-yard run by Sebastian Rasmussen and a 60-yard pass from Vance Johnson to David Emerich with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter accounted for the Warriors’ scoring in the first half. Badger’s points in the second quarter came on a 1-yard plunge by JP Doyle and a 20-yard scoring strike from Doyle to Landon Nottestad.
Both teams scored a touchdown in the third quarter. Badger’s score was a 6-yard run by Matthew O’Grady with 2:17 remaining in the period, and Waunakee went 60 yards in two minutes capped by a 25-yard pass from Johnson to Robert Booker II to take a 20-19 advantage at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Nottestad broke free for a 40-yard rushing touchdown to give the Badgers a 27-20 lead, but the Warriors responded to tie the game at 27-27 on a 36-yard pass from Johnson to Emerich with 6:42 to play. Doyle put Badger back in front on a 10-yard run through the Waunakee defense into the end zone with 2:19 remaining. The Warriors marched 73 yards in 1:34 and scored on a 24-yard pass from Johnson to Booker II to set up the late game drama.
Three Badgers topped the century mark rushing the ball. Nottestad ran for a game-high 198 yards. O’Grady and Doyle added 131 and 118 yards on the ground, respectively. Doyle completed one of just two pass attempts for 20 yards. Nottestad made the only reception for the Badgers. Doyle led the defense with a game-high 11 tackles.
Johnson completed 13-of-15 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Warriors. Benjamin Lindley paced the Waunakee rushing attack with 123 yards on 24 carries. Emerich caught five passes for a game-high 119 yards and two scores, and Booker II added four catches for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Samuel Hogland and Camren Marionneaux led the Warriors on defense with nine stop, and Brady Cizek intercepted a pass with a 50-yard return.
Badger wins the title in its first-ever appearance in the championship game, and Waunakee finishes runner-up in its 12th State finals experience.
In Division 3, Rice Lake (13-1) defeated Grafton (11-3) 28-20 in the championship game Friday.
The teams alternated scoring throughout the game. The Warriors scored first with 7:41 remaining in the first quarter on a 59-yard pass from Jakob Kunz to Connor Durand to give Rice Lake an 8-0 lead with the two-point conversion.
The Black Hawks cut their deficit to 8-7 with a 1-yard plunge on the first play of the second quarter. The Warriors increased their lead to 14-7 on another Durand score, a run from four yards out, but the extra-point try failed. Grafton responded with its second score of the quarter on a 6-yard run by Tommy Lutz to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:03 remaining in the first half.
Rice Lake regained the lead at 20-14 on the first possession of the second half. The Warriors drove 84 yards on 10 plays to score on a 2-yard run by Easton Stone. The Black Hawks tied the game at 20-20 with 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter following a Lutz 1-yard rush, which capped an 18-play drive, but the extra-point kick was blocked.
On the next possession, the Warriors drove 63 yards on nine plays to score what would ultimately be the margin of victory. Stone ran it in from five yards with 4:43 remaining in the game, and they converted the two-point conversion.
Durand led Rice Lake in rushing and receiving. He gained 72 yards on nine rushes and made two catches for 76 yards. Kunz completed 5-of-9 passes for 118 yards. Rice Lake was led on defense by Stone with 10 tackles and an interception.
Lutz was the game’s leading rusher with 147 yards on 30 carries and a pair of touchdowns for the Black Hawks. Brady Hilgart connected on 15-of-24 passes for 113 yards. His favorite target was Matthew Clemens with five receptions for 43 yards. Tyler Heinle led Grafton defensively with 10 tackles.
The Warriors win their third championship, participating in their eighth championship game. Grafton finishes runner-up in its fifth advance to the title game.
Lodi (14-0) capped an undefeated season with a 38-14 triumph over Luxemburg-Casco (13-1) in the Division 4 championship game Thursday evening.
The Blue Devils featured a potent balanced attack to compile 488 yards of total offense, including 268 rushing and 220 passing. They capitalized on several explosive plays.
The first score of the game was a 67-yard strike from Mason Lane to Aiden Groskopf on the games’ first possession, giving the Blue Devils a 7-0 at the 11:44 point of the first quarter. Lane extended the Lodi lead to 14-0 with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Spartans answered with their first score, a 2-yard run by Andrew Klass midway through the second quarter to narrow their deficit to 14-7. Lodi responded with a 72-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard toss from Lane to Gavin Sargeant with 5:15 still to play in the second period to increase the Blue Devils’ lead to 21-7.
Luxemburg-Casco again responded on its next drive by scoring on a 58-yard dash to the end zone by Klass at 4:49 of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 21-14. However, the Blue Devils scored on their fourth straight possession with 2:27 remaining in the first half on a 58-yard run by Brady Puls for 28-14 halftime advantage.
Lodi scored the only points of the second half. A 74-yard burst up the middle by Kyler Clemens extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 35-14, and Jacobo Castillo Rosales ended the scoring with a 23-yard field with 5:50 remaining in the game.
Lane threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns, completing 11-of-16 passes. Sargeant was his favorite target with six catches for 74 yards and a score. Clemens rushed for a game-high 147 yards and a score, and Lane also ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Clemens led the team in tackles with eight, and Lane made five tackles and intercepted a pass.
The Spartans were led on offense by Max Ronsman, who completed 13-of-26 passes for 163 yards. Eight of his connections were to Trace Schoenebeck, who tied a State Division 4 record for receptions, which accounted for game-high 76 yards. Klass was the team’s leading rusher with 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Lodi wins the State title for the second time in three State finals appearances, and Luxemburg-Casco earned the silver trophy in its first-ever experience in the State final.
Aquinas (13-1) won its third straight State championship in Division 5 with a 32-13 win over Wrightstown (11-3) in the final Thursday afternoon.
The Tigers jumped out to a 13-0 lead with their first two possessions of the game on a 4-yard run by Aiden Humphreys at 10:35 in the first quarter and a 59-yard dash by Trevor Vande Hey at the 7:35 mark of the first period. That’s when the momentum took a drastic turn as the Blugolds scored the final 32 points of the game with four touchdowns, all with successful two-point conversions.
Brady Lehnherr scored for the Blugolds’ on a 3-yard rush at 5:04 remaining in the first quarter. Lehnherr scored again on their next possession to give Aquinas a 16-13 lead, capping a 13-play, 94-yard drive on a 4-yard run. Aquinas scored again before halftime at 1:45 on a 9-yard run by David Malin to extend the lead to 24-13.
Kyle White produced the only touchdown in the second half when he raced 59 yards to cap an 80-yard drive at 7:52 in the third quarter. White finished the game with 240 yards rushing, which ranks second on list for rushing yards in a game in Division 5.
Jacob Thornton completed 3-of-6 passes for 50 yards for the Blugolds, distributing completions to three different receivers. In addition to his two touchdowns, Lehnherr led the defense with a team-high 10 tackles.
Vande Hey ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to lead the Tigers. He also completed 3-of-6 passes for 19 yards with receptions by three different receivers. Humphreys led the defensive side of the ball with a game-high 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Aquinas has now won four State titles in its four appearances in the championship final. Wrightstown finishes runner-up in its fourth experience at State.
Stratford (13-1) edged Darlington (12-2) 10-7 with a 32-yard field goal on an untimed play to win the Division 6 State championship Thursday afternoon.
Laurenz Plattner, who had a 24-yard field goal attempt blocked with 23 seconds to play in the game, made good on his second opportunity. On the third play of the ensuing Redbirds’ drive, the Tigers recovered of fumble and returned it to the Darlington 25-yard line with six seconds remaining. A defensive penalty moved the ball to the Darlington 15-yard line to set up Plattner’s heroics on the final play of the game. It was his first successful field goal of the season.
After a scoreless first quarter, Darlington started the scoring on a Reagan Jackson 5-yard run up by the middle with 5:01 remaining in the first half. The Redbirds held the 7-0 advantage until Koehler Kilty sprinted nine yards to the right edge of the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
The events the led to the late-game dramatics was set up by a 22-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 11:27 of the fourth quarter, which set Division 5 records for plays and time elapsed in a drive.
The defensive struggle was reflected in the score and total yardage in the game. Stratford outgained Darlington 195-102 in total offense. Kilty led all ball carriers with 85 yards in 25 carries. Jack Tubbs gained 45 yards rushing and completed 5-of-7 passes for 44 yards. Gavin Leonhardt and Jett Schoenherr each had three catches for 23 and 21 yards, respectively. Stratford was led on defense by Alec Chapel and Leonhardt with eight tackles apiece. Chapel also recovered the fumble forced by Cole Tichy late in the game to set-up the game winning scenario.
Reagan Jackson led the Redbirds on offense with 43 yards. Breylin Goebel rushed for 33 yards and was 0-for-2 passing in the game. Jackson and Talan Crist led the defense with nine tackles apiece.
Stratford wins the championship for the second straight season and for the ninth time in the program’s history, which ties St. Mary’s Springs for the most titles among the membership. The Tigers have now played in 11 championship games. Darlington finishes runner-up in its 13th State experience.
Edgar (13-1) rolled to the Division 7 title with a 36-6 victory over Black Hawk/Warren, Ill. (12-2) in the championship final Thursday.
The Wildcats scored on their first two possessions of the game. Karter Butt ran to the first of his five touchdowns in the game on a 42-yard run to give Edgar an 8-0 lead following a successful two-point conversion. Butt added his second scoring run with a 4-yard jaunt to the left pylon for a 14-0 Edgar lead.
The Warriors cut their deficit to 14-6 with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter on a 5-yard pass from Eli Schliem to Lane Marty. The two-point try failed.
Edgar scored on its first three possessions of the second half. Butt ran 29 yards to paydirt at 8:04 remaining in the third quarter, and then added another rushing touchdown from 20 yards out to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 29-6 with 3:50 to go in the third period. Butt capped the scoring on a four-yard scamper at the 9:52 mark of fourth quarter.
The five rushing touchdowns for Butt set a Division 7 record. He carried the ball 19 times for 171 yards. Teegan Streit completed 1-of-3 passes for just three yards in the game. That toss went to Leyton Schuett. Butt also led the defense with a game-high 15 tackles and an interception.
Owen Seffrood led the Warrior offense with 96 yards rushing, and Marty added 65 yards on the ground. Schleim completed 4-of-7 passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. Bryce VanRaalte caught two passes for a game-high 11 yards. Marty and Schleim also led the defense with eight tackles apiece, and Marty added an interception.
Edgar wins its eighth State championship in the Wildcats’ membership leading 14th State championship game appearance. Black Hawk/Warren, Ill. finishes runner-up in its second experience as a co-op.
State Finals Results & Statistics