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Off To Madison!

The 47th annual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Football State Championships will be held Thursday and Friday, Nov. 16-17, at Camp Randall Stadium on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. 

Last year, Kimberly won the Division 1 championship by defeating Mukwonago, 34-30. In Division 2, Kettle Moraine downed West De Pere 27-10 in the final, and Monroe rolled past West Salem 35-14 to win the gold trophy in Division 3. Columbus won the crown in Division 4 with a 23-21 victory over Catholic Memorial, and Aquinas downed Mayville 22-14  to win the Division 5 title. Stratford defeated Mondovi 32-14 in the Division 6 championship game, and Regis won Division 7 with a 41-7 win over Shiocton in the final.

The WIAA?began sponsoring the playoff tournament series in 1976. The first two championships featured four divisions. In 1978, the field expanded to five divisions. The playoffs were again expanded to include six divisions in 1981. In 1996, the playoff field was further expanded to 192 teams qualifying for the post-season. In 2002, the tournament expanded to its current seven-divisions format with 224 teams. The championships have all been at Camp Randall Stadium since 1982. The finals were not conducted in 2020 during the COVID?pandemic. St. Mary’s Springs has won the most championships with nine. Kimberly and Stratford have the second-most number of State titles with eight. Edgar, Lancaster and Waunakee are next on the list with seven. Arrowhead, Homestead and Monroe have each won six titles. Catholic Memorial, D.C. Everest, Menomonie and Osseo-Fairchild each have won five. Edgar leads the membership in title game appearances with 14. Arrowhead, Darlington and St. Mary’s Springs are next with 13. Waunakee follows on the list with 12. Lancaster and Stratford have 11 appearances, and Kimberly has 10.

Marquette advances to the State championship game for the second time. The only other experience in the final resulted in a State title in 2009. Prior to joining the WIAA, the Hilltoppers won eight WISAA titles (1975, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1997 and 1999). ?They finished runner-up to Hamilton in the Greater Metro Conference standings this season. They defeated perennial power and former defending champion Kimberly 14-7 at Level 4 to earn the opportunity to return to the final. In eight of their 11 wins this year, the Hilltoppers have shut out their opponent. They have outscored the opposition 490-93 through 13 games. Franklin will appear in its fifth championship final, seeking its second title in three seasons. The Sabers won the Division 1 crown in 2021 and won the Division 2 championship in 2006. Their other two experiences resulted in runner-up finishes in Division 1 in 2013 and 2016. They are the champions in the Southeast Conference this season, and they rolled past Hamilton 35-0 in the State semifinal to gain their berth in the championship game. The Sabers have outscored their four playoff opponents by a combined score of 160-20, and their average scores per game advantage this season is 39.9-8.0.

Waunakee advances to the title game for the 12th time and for the fourth time in the past six finals. The Warriors have captured the State championship seven times, including three consecutive Division 2 championships from 2009-11 and two more titles in 2017 and 2021. They also won Division 3 crowns in 1999 and 2002. Three of their four runner-up finishes came in Division 2 in 2005, 2012 and 2019, and one came in Division 3 in 2001. The Warriors finished first in the Large Division of the Badger Conference this fall. Their return to the title game comes by virtue of their 24-14 victory over Kaukauna at Level 4. The 14 points surrendered by the Warriors in the semifinal game ties for the most points yielded in a game all season, outscoring opponents by a staggering total of 621-67, an average of  47.8-5.1. It is the first time Badger has advanced to the championship game in program history. Their furthest advance in the playoffs prior to this season was to Level 4 in Division 1 in 2012 and 2016 and in Division 2 in 2015. The Badgers earned their first trip to Camp Randall with a 28-6 victory over Sun Prairie East at Level 4. They were the champions in the Southern Lakes Conference this year. Badger has outscored their opponents by a cumulative total of 476-129 for an average margin of victory of 26.7 points per game in 2023.

Rice Lake is making its eighth trip to the State final and its second in the past three seasons. The Warriors have won two State titles, including Division 3 championships in 1979 and 2017. Their five runner-up finishes occurred in 1980, 1982, 2004, 2014 and 2021. They were the champions in the Middle Border Conference this season. They advance to the title game by ousting Notre Dame in their Level 4 game, 30-15. The Warriors are averaging 41.2 points per game this season and have scored 50 or more points in five of their last seven games, including their four playoff wins. Grafton embarks on its fifth experience in the State finals and its first since 1984. The Black Hawks’ previous four appearances came during an eight-year span from 1977-84. They won back-to-back Division 2 championships in 1981 and 1982 and finished runner-up in Division 2 in 1977 and 1984. This season, the Black Hawks were co-champions with Wisconsin Lutheran in the East Division of the Woodland Conference. They downed Stoughton 17-6 in their Level 4 match-up to earn a berth in the title game. The Black Hawks averaged 40 points a game during the regular season. They have had competitive games in the last three levels of the playoffs with the average winning margin of 4.6 points over that span.

Luxemburg-Casco will make its first appearance in the football championships. The Spartans advance to the title game after a 23-21 victory over Catholic Memorial at Level 4. The game was decided by a  field goal in the final moments of the contest. They were the champions in the North Eastern Conference during the regular season. The Spartans’ margins of victory in their Level 3 and Level 4 wins were three and two points, respectively. They have outscored their opponents by a total of 436-148 this year. Lodi is making its third appearance in the title game and its first since winning the championship game in 2017. The  Blue Devils’ first title game experience came in 2015 when they finished runner-up. Their return to the championship game comes by virtue of their 49-29 shootout win over Baldwin-Woodville at Level 4. The Blue Devils were the champions of the Capitol Conference this season. They have outscored their opponents by an average of 39-9 per game this year. Their narrowest margin of victory  this season has been 13 points. The Blue Devils’ advantage in scoring per game through 13 games this season is 40.5-6.5.

Two-time defending champion Aquinas will be making its fourth State Championship game appearance in pursuit of its fourth State title. In addition to the last two years, the Blugolds won the Division 5 championship in 2007. As a former member of WISAA, the Blugolds won Division 2 titles in 1993 and 1995. This year, they were the champions in the Coulee Conference. They continue their quest for a third straight State championship following their 58-14 victory over Horicon/Hustisford at Level 4.  Aquinas has scored more than 40 points in a game in eight of their 12 wins this season, including three of their four playoffs. Wrightstown, like their opponent, is pursuing its fourth championship in the Tigers’ fourth State championship game appearance. They won State championships in each of its two Division 4 experiences in 2006 and 2011. The Tigers also captured the Division 5 championship in 1998. They defeated St. Croix Falls 33-12 in the semifinals to advance to the title tilt. They finished runner-up in the North Eastern  Conference this year behind Luxemburg-Casco, which is playing for the Division 4 championship this week.