Desktop Sportsman - Nov. 18, 2009Desktop Sportsman looks back at the fall prep season in this column
By: Sean Scallon, Pierce County Herald
Since the fall prep sports season is wrapping up this week with the finals of the WIAA football playoffs and since all the area’s winter sports team are beginning their seasons this week, it’s time to but a bow on what’s happened this autumn.
— First of all, kudos to our most successful fall prep sports teams. This includes Plum City’s football team, unblemished in the regular season for the fifth year in a row and has a good chance to so again next year. Also included on that list is Elmwood’s football team and Ellsworth and Spring Valley’s volleyball teams. Kudos to Ellsworth’s girls’ golf team for making the sectional meet. Kudos to EHS’ girls’ tennis team for tying for first in the subsectional meet. And kudos to all of our top cross country runners, including state qualifiers Breanna Colbenson of Spring Valley and Victoria Simones of Prescott along with Elmwood’s Tim Talford, Spring Valley’s Chelsey Turner and Ellsworth’s cross country boys and girls teams for their upper half finishes in the Middle Border Conference and sectional meets. Also too for the Panther boys’ All-MBC runners Isaac Taplin, Jay Pavloski and David Klawitter.
— How does one build a successful program in prep sports, or any athletic endeavor for that matter? Well it’s not rocket science. A coaching staff teaches a system that the players buy into and those players take the responsibility to get stronger and faster through hard work in the offseason. It’s this way and only this way that Ellsworth will start winning football games again. Hopefully the success the freshman team showed this past fall means such a system is starting to take root. But ultimately it’s up to the players to make it grow.
— Peeking ahead to next fall, Somerset will still be the king of the hill as far as football goes in the MBC while the D-SC race could be another battle between Mondovi, Boyceville, Glenwood City and Elk Mound. Plum City, Pepin-Alma, Elmwood again will again be the best the Lakeland South has to offer. Ellsworth will again be in the thick of the MBC title race in volleyball as will Osceola and Baldwin-Woodville while Mondovi will be the early favorite in D-SC. Ellsworth’s girls golf team will be a factor in the MBC meet along with Osceola.
— I’ve never given out a Coach of the Year award (or any award for that matter) but Ellsworth’s Head Volleyball Coach Margie Biel fits that category for her work with this year’s Panther spiker squad. I also wish to salute Plum City head football coach Pete Adler, who showed that no matter what the age of the head coach, kids are still kids and can still be coached by the best of them which showed these past few seasons.
— Since the conference was created in 2002, the Lakeland South has a combined WIAA playoff record of all of its teams of 14-27 and most of those wins have come from Plum City, Elmwood and Pepin. I have no idea why once solid programs like Prairie Farm, Clayton, New Auburn and Lake Holcombe have gone into the tank, but I think a parting of the ways may be in order for Plum City, Elmwood and now Pepin-Alma to the Dairyland Conference to have more playoff success by playing bigger schools throughout the season. This is not a guarantee of success (the Dairyland didn’t exactly have a bang-up playoff record this past fall) but it also doesn’t means sacrificing regular season success either if the league can have a Large and Small Division with just a couple of cross-over games. Of course, if the WIAA accepts the proposal for a new football playoff format, all conferences will be moot and all three schools may very well wind up playing schools like Independence and Alma Center Lincoln anyway.
— A conference is not only good for what it does in the postseason, but also for whom it sends on to college. And in case in point in cross country, the Middle Border makes its claim to greatness when you have New Richmond’s Ayla Mitchell winning an NCAA Division III regional meet for UW-Oshkosh, Prescott’s Maria Peloquin on a regional champion UW-Eau Claire team, Ellsworth’s Morgan Place winning an NCAA Division II regional and Osceola’s Brea Tinney placing eighth in the Division I Missouri Valley Conference meet running for Illinois State. And don’t forget Baldwin-Woodville’s Kayla Wagner running for the Division I University of Minnesota squad, also a regional champion team.
— Speaking of cross country, Prescott’s Luke Appleton, a cross country runner in college at Wartburg, was named to the Wartburg College homecoming court.
— In other area tidbits, Amery’s Larry Gorres was inducted into the Wisconsin Wrestling Hall of Fame. Boyceville High School’s track will be resurfaced. Luke Fritsche is St. Croix Central’s new girls’ basketball coach. He replaces Shannon (Berg) Donnelly who stepped aside last spring to spend more time with her young family.
— While the Packers may have won against Dallas, the embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay could very well cost them a wild card playoff spot. And if Green Bay finishes below .500, which is still possible, then both Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy should be let go. If the Packers don’t want a return to the bad old era of 1968-1991, then back-to-back losing seasons cannot be tolerated, either from coaching or management standpoint because both will have combined to produce such bad results.
— If you offer criticism then you need to offer praise too when it’s warranted. I so offer such praise to UW football coach Brett Bielema for the Badgers 8-2 record this season. Clearly they are a better team, clearly they have played better thanks to improvement not only by the players but the coaching staff as well and clearly that same coaching staff has recruited well since many of the players who are making an impact this season are freshmen and sophomores, something that has to be disconcerting to University of Minnesota football fans whose coaching staff claims to be recruiting great talent, but who have not made the same impact.
— Speaking of the Gophers, their regular season finale is an important one for head coach Tim Brewster to show progress in his third season by beating Iowa in Iowa City and winning the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Nothing more would better establish him as the leader of this program than a win Saturday. The same goes for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez as the Wolverines take on Ohio State. If they fail, then next year could very well be their last as coaches.
— You know, maybe Royce White doesn’t want be college or go to school. Maybe he simply wants to go a play pro ball right now instead of going through one-season charade that’s only been causing him problems at the U that’s got him suspended from playing basketball. There’s no shame in admitting this. Going to college just isn’t for some people. It doesn’t mean their bad people. It doesn’t mean they are stupid. It just means they wish to spend their time doing something else, doing what they think they’ll making a living at. After watching Brandon Jennings’ play for the Bucks so far, I think it would behoove players like White to do their growing up in Europe or someplace else overseas playing professional basketball, much like an apprentice program. For some people, it sure beats a dorm room.