Sports, Sports Check Blog

FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS: It’s almost playoff time, get psyched, people

Believe it or not, but we’re already in mid-October.

Wow, time flies.

Halloween is right around the corner, Thanksgiving will be here in a little more than a month, and Christmas is a mere 70 days away.


That means my wife will be listening to Christmas music on the radio starting Nov. 1, and I will have to “pretend” I’m into it while humming something actually good in my head.

I like Christmas music as much as the next guy, but in November?


Not even close.

Give me my hip-hop jams to get me jacked up, and I’m good.

Mostly, I listen to sports radio when cruising in the car.

What a shocker!

The point is, the fall season is flying by, as the colors change, and that means football is soon over.

Friday night marks the regular season finale, and by midnight, playoff pairings will be released in an absolutely pulse-pounding event.

This year, Burlington, Wilmot and Waterford will be marching on, while Lake Geneva Badger must beat rival Waterford Friday to make the playoffs for the 15th straight season.

On the outside looking in are Union Grove and Westosha Central, which both sit at 2-4 in the Southern Lakes Conference.

Those two would need to win Friday and hope to get a ton of help.

The problem is they play each other Friday at Union Grove, therefore, the winner has a long shot chance at extending its season.

Would I be surprised if Badger upset undefeated Waterford?

Not really.

Badger coach Matt Hensler eats, drinks, sleeps, breathes and possibly even prays about the Badger-Waterford rivalry, it is a whole thing, and I’m sure he would love nothing more than to spoil the Wolverines’ perfect season and rob them of a No. 1 seed.

Waterford’s Adam Bakken is the type where no love is lost, so the intensity of this game should be off the charts.

Badger has the potential to compete, with its magical triple-option attack, but it’s been an uncharacteristic rough year.

Moving to college football, people are getting ahead of themselves with the Wisconsin Badgers.

Yes, the Badgers are 6-0, have shut out an unthinkable four opponents, and sit among the top teams in the country.

The defense guided by former Badger defensive back and NFL star Jim Leonhard could be the best in a decade.

And Jonathan Taylor is a Heisman front-runner at running back, and he is challenging Ron Dayne, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon for a spot in the record books.

But Ohio State is The Ohio State for a reason.

The Buckeyes get the pick of the litter in the Big Ten, the best athletes choose OSU, not Wisconsin, and they are also undefeated.

The Badgers travel to Columbus for a showdown Oct. 26, and I simply don’t see quarterback Jack Coan making enough plays to keep up with Ohio State’s firepower.

Professionally, the Green Bay Packers got some help from two poor calls of illegal hands to the face and extended drives in pulling out a 23-22 victory in Monday Night Football showdown with the visiting Detroit Lions.

It reminded me of the old Lions teams growing up that always, I repeat, ALWAYS, found a way to lose.

Green Bay turned the ball over three times to zero for Detroit, trailed 13-0 and 22-13 in the fourth quarter, and still pulled out the win – thanks to the wizardry of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The guy dropped two absolute dimes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard (WHO??!!???!!) late in the game to once again prove he’s a “BAAAAAAAAAAAAD MAN,” as ESPN sports talking head Stephen A. Smith would say.

A developing offense, a great pass rush led by the Smith brothers (Z’Darius and Preston, 14 combined sacks in 6 games), a stingy secondary along with a new head coach in sync with Rodgers have the Packers sitting in first place at 5-1 in the NFC North.

Next week, Oakland comes to town for another winnable ball game before Green Bay travels to Kansas City Oct. 27.

The Chiefs are one of the NFL’s best teams, and Patrick Mahomes may be the best quarterback.

Yours truly might attend the game, as my sister and her husband live in K.C., and I got the A-OK from wifey for the trip.

You only live once, and the first Aaron Rodgers-Patrick Mahomes duel will be worth the price of admission.

Let’s get on with this show before you get too bored and throw away, or burn, this newspaper in a bonfire.

Last week: 7-4
Season: 36-12

Waterford (8-0) at Lake Geneva Badger (5-3, 3-3 SLC), Friday, 7 p.m.
After covering this rivalry up close and personal at the Lake Geneva Regional News for five years, I learned it’s the greatest rivalry in the SLC, even better than Burlington-Waterford.

The winner usually wins the conference, but this year Badger is desperate for a playoff spot and must win to become postseason eligible for a 15th straight season, 12 under Matt Hensler.

Granted Burlington’s starting quarterback and probably best player Dalton Damon was out sick, but the Wolverines just went into Demon land and handed them a 49-7 thrashing.

Badger put together an impressive defensive effort in beating Delavan-Darien, 26-0.

Lake Geneva will play well, but Waterford is too good this year and there is too much pride on the line with this rivalry, so don’t expect Adam Bakken to sit any starters.

Waterford must still win to capture the outright SLC title, as a Wilmot win and a Waterford loss would mean a share of the crown.

Not on Bakken’s watch.

Or Tanner Keller, for that matter.

PREDICTION: Waterford 35, Lake Geneva Badger 20

Westosha Central (2-4 SLC) at Union Grove (2-4), Friday, 7 p.m.
OK, it’s the Falcons’ last shot at a first playoff appearance in forever, maybe a decade or more?

The Broncos have been hot with a few wins in a row, and their passing attack has been strong.

Tommy Hempel is in the top 10 in the area in receiving yards, and Nash Wolf is maturing each and every week at quarterback.

I got absolutely slammed for no reason for picking Central to upset Wilmot by an unruly Panther fan on Twitter last week (that seriously was entertaining), as I was hoping for a crazy upset.

It’s a better story, that’s all, no hard feelings, #PantherFam.

But this time, I have to go with Union Grove, which will be elated to make its first postseason appearance since 2015, when quarterback Matt Nelson, Joe Peterson and T.J. Cadd were tearing it up.

PREDICTION: Union Grove 30, Westosha Central 18

Wilmot (7-1, 5-1) at Delavan-Darien (2-6), Friday, 7 p.m.
Please don’t sleep on the Comets defense.

It’s good.

Linebacker Ross Gengler is actually being recruited to play at Wisconsin, and Delavan held the high-powered Burlington offense to 28 points.

Though Wilmot should take this one, the real story here is Wilmot head coach Keiya Square.

Square was a superstar running back for Delavan-Darien back in the day, and he will be honored Friday night by being inducted into the DDHS Athletic Wall of Fame.

Kudos to a class act who deserves it. Congrats, Keiya!

PREDICTION: Wilmot 31, Delavan-Darien 7

Burlington (6-2) at Elkhorn (2-6), Friday, 7 p.m.
A two-game skid probably dropped the Demons from a 2 or 3 seed to possibly a 4 or 5 seed, even with a win Friday night.

They could open the postseason on the road in what likely will be a tough bracket in Division 2 with Wilmot and Waterford, and potentially Waukesha West, Brookfield East or some other metro Milwaukee powers.

But first things first.

While the Elks can pass the ball, they’ve only mustered two wins this season.

Emotions will be running high for the seniors’ last home game, but Burlington has got to be hungry for a strong 7-2 finish to the season and a potential home playoff game if coach Steve Tenhagen can convince the other coaches.

Dalton Damon should be back from a bout with pneumonia that kept him out of last week’s loss to Waterford.

A healthy Damon and running back Zach Wallace are extremely hard to stop.

The 7-2 record will match Tenhagen’s best mark as a Burlington head coach.

The Demons went 7-2 last year.

PREDICTION: Burlington 40, Elkhorn 21

Other area picks

  • East Troy 45, Beloit Turner 12
  • Jefferson 61, Whitewater 29
  • Mukwonago 33, Waukesha West 17
  • Palmyra-Eagle 50, Monticello/Princeton/Green Lake 30
  • Muskego 44, Waukesha South 0

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