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Muskego, Brookfield Central among teams whose stock is soaring

By Mark Stewart , 09/19/17, 8:00PM CDT

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Most teams have two or three captains. Maybe four.

Muskego has eight.

“That’s a reflection of the great leadership we have in the senior class,” Warriors coach Ken Krause said.

Those seniors have led Muskego to a 2-0 record that included a lopsided victory over Arrowhead last week, the Warriors' third straight win over the state powerhouse. They’re also a big reason why the team could upset the order of things in the Classic 8 Conference where Waukesha West and Catholic Memorial have been tabbed as the teams to beat.

The third week of the high school season usually marks a turning of the page from non-conference play to the start of league games.  Conference realignment changed that somewhat, but many of the area teams are diving into conference play this week.

It’s the perfect time to take stock in what the first part of the season has yielded. What have we learned so far?

Well, when it comes to Muskego, it is clear the Warriors will have to be reckoned with in the Classic 8.

Blessed with a combination of speed and power in the backfield, seniors Justin Kotarek and Austin Kaltenbrun and junior RJ Bosshart are all averaging at least 11 yards per carry. The defense, anchored by senior linebackers AJ Spychala, Gavin McNally and Addison Price, have allowed 28 points but just seven before the fourth quarter.

Improved chemistry has also been a factor in the team’s success. That was one of the goals for the offseason for Krause and so far it has come to fruition with the team’s seniors bridging the gap to the other classes.

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So far, you can’t argue with the results.

‘They’ve done a terrific job of embracing the underclassmen,” Krause said. “It’s kind of 50-50 between seniors and juniors and sophomores. The other thing is to stay positive. The attitudes have been extremely positive. I have not had to get on any of my players for having a negative attitude.”

What else have we learned? Here are a few nuggets.

Central’s defense is really that good

Brookfield Central’s defense came into the season with a lot of talent and high expectations. So far the Lancers have met them.

The only touchdown the unit allowed in the first two games was an 80-yard touchdown run by Wauwatosa East on the first snap from scrimmage of the year.

“They were all jacked up for the first play of the season. Unfortunately they forget to get themselves lined up,” Central coach Jed Kennedy said.

The unit returned senior all-league first-teamers Blake Fehrmann on the line and Reggie Jennings and Nick Leszczynski at linebacker. A key for the unit, however, has been a tall secondary that includes seniors Max Meves and Luke Blamer and juniors Joey Cleary, Connor Kolb and Julian Banda.

“We have some length there. They’re some of the best athletes in our program,” Kennedy said. “It allows us to really sell out against the run and have some great kids who can cover.”

The Suns are rising in West Bend

West Bend East (2-0) definitely has work to do. Its next four games are against teams with a combined 7-1 record.

Still, some acknowledgment must be given to a program that appears be gaining steam after years of struggle. The Suns haven’t had a winning season since 2007, have missed the playoffs five straight years and were winless in 2012 and ’13.

This year, however, the team is off to its best start since at least 2001 thanks to a strong running game and deeper and healthy offensive and defensive lines.

Senior Kyle Yochem ranks sixth in the area with 371 rushing yards in 37 carries. He runs behind an offensive line that is especially strong on the right side where senior tackle Bryce Dolinar and junior guard John Daley line up.

The team’s play is a continuation of 2016 when it lost five close games in the Wisconsin Little Ten.

“Our kids learned to compete for four quarters last year and that is carrying over to this (year),” East coach Jeff Rondorf said. “We’re finishing games now where last year we didn’t have the depth or the size, I thought, to finish the games.”

There is life after Doke

Kenosha Bradford’s chance of contending in the Southeast Conference took a blow when senior running back Erick Doke III, a Northern Illinois recruit, suffered a season-ending knee injury during one of the team’s summer contact days.

What we didn’t know at the time was that another player whose career had been slowed by a knee injury would take the opportunity to play and run with it.

Senior Marshaun Bell is averaging 9.1 yards per carry and has gained 192 yards in two games. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound back split time as a tight end/running back two years ago but didn’t play last season when he was recovering from a knee injury he suffered during basketball season his sophomore year.

Bell’s play gives Bradford (2-0) a chance to make a run in the Southeast. It might also land him a chance to play in college. Even before the injury Bell was catching the eye of recruiters because of his work in the weight room. Coach Matt Rizzo said Bell recently received a letter from Michigan State inviting him to attend a game.

“It was a blessing in disguise for us,” Rizzo said. “He’s fresh. He had a great off-season. We’re thankful and very lucky to have him.”

Wilmot’s record is deceiving

Wilmot has the dubious distinction of arguably being the best 0-2 team in the state.

“We talked today with our team about we don’t want to be the best 0-2 team,” coach Keiya Square said. “At end of the season we want to be the best 7-2 team in the state and go from there.”

From what Wilmot showed us during the first two weeks that could happen. The Panthers were on the short end of a 21-14 final with Kenosha Bradford in Week 1 and a 14-13 decision to Franklin in Week 2.  In the loss to Franklin, the area’s top-ranked team, Wilmot failed to convert a two-point conversion with 19 seconds left that would have won the game.

Losses aside, the games were a good experience for a team that is adjusting to a first-year head coach. The next big test comes next week when it plays Waterford in a matchup of Southern Lakes contenders.