Big Foot to host East Troy
The pre-playoff guessing game is over for Walworth Big Foot High School’s unbeaten football team.
After reaching the WIAA Division 4 state finals two of the last three years, and winning the championship in 2009, Big Foot officially is among larger schools in Division 3 this year.
Despite that change, Big Foot’s opponent for this weekend’s first-round game will have a familiar look. The second-seeded Chiefs, champions of the Rock Valley South for the fourth straight year, will open at home against East Troy (7-2), a team they beat, 40-0, in a conference crossover game two weeks ago.
Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig says he prefers a Friday night game, rather than Saturday, but the days and times for the first round have not been finalized. And that’s not all that remains unsettled in the overall format for the seven-division competition.
Since litigation involving the Milwaukee Messmer/Shorewood program still has not been settled, the WIAA—on a judge’s recommendation—delayed the announcement of Division 1 and 2 qualifiers and pairings until today.
The regular season concluded last Friday, and pairings were expected to be announced Saturday morning. However, because a hearing in Milwaukee County Court was set for Monday, that announcement first was delayed until 5 p.m. Monday.
After a 90-minute session of questioning WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki at Monday’s 2 p.m. hearing, there was a court recess. Afterward, the judge heard arguments from another case that was on the court agenda, thus delaying the WIAA case until today.
Messmer/Shorewood is fighting for its right to be in the playoffs after going 4-2 in the Midwest Classic Conference North. The program withdrew from the Woodland Conference after the 2007 season to play an independent schedule, and the WIAA states that a school’s voluntary withdrawal from a conference makes it ineligible for the playoffs for four years.
Officials from Messmer/Shorewood argue that the rule no longer applies because its football program has joined a new conference. That is now for the judge to decide.
As for Big Foot, which has won 46 of the last 50 games and advanced to last year’s Division 4 semifinals, Wedig welcomes the opportunity to step up a division.
“It doesn’t come as a complete surprise,” said Wedig, whose school of 507 will be the second-smallest in Division 3, which is topped by defending champion West De Pere’s 807 enrollment.
“One thing we’ve tried to do here is to teach our kids not just be the best team in the Rock Valley, but to reach out for more,” he said. “And one thing that’s helped is that we’ve scrimmaged Kenosha Bradford and Wilmot.’’
Bradford, with an enrollment over 2,000, will take a 9-0 team into the Division 1 playoffs. Wilmot (1,140) heads into the Division 2 playoffs with an 8-1 record.
“Scrimmaging that kind of competition has helped the kids, so I don’t think we’ll be intimidated by bigger schools,” Wedig said.
“Division 4 is more small-town schools like us,” he said. “If we’re lucky enough to advance, we’re going to be facing some bigger-town and suburban schools.
“So it’s another challenge, but I think the kids are going to rise to it.”