GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The football postseason kicks off Friday and based on recent seasons Northeastern Wisconsin should once again make noise during the road to Camp Randall Stadium and the seven state championship games.
The storylines this postseason include:
- Can Kimberly win a sixth straight state title?
- Can Fond du Lac finally beat Kimberly in the postseason?
- Can Bay Port reach its first state title game?
- Can Little Chute keep its perfect season intact into the Division 4 state title game?
- Can St. Mary's Springs win a Division 5 state title after winning last year's Division 6 gold ball?
- Can Iola-Scandinavia win in Division 6 with Springs out of the way?
- Can there be a surprise team show up at Camp Randall?
It will be fun watching these teams answer these questions, in addition to watching the playoff march week by week. With the playoffs almost here, let's take a look at each division and the teams representing Northeastern Wisconsin in the playoffs:
- Games: #8 De Pere at #1 Bay Port; #5 Hudson at #4 Appleton North; #6 Green Bay Preble at #3 Neenah; #7 Chippewa Falls at #2 Kimberly; #8 Madison LaFollette at #1 Fond du Lac.
- Analysis: Fond du Lac and Bay Port are undefeated and Kimberly is, well, Kimberly. Bay Port could host Kimberly in Level 3 with the winner possibly meeting Fond du Lac in Level 4. Also, Appleton North could meet Bay Port in Level 2 and those teams have played the last two seasons in the playoffs with each team winning once. Meanwhile, Kimberly could play Neenah in Level 2 and that would be a rematch of a 38-0 Kimberly regular season win. Some of the best Division 1 football in the state is played in Northeastern Wisconsin and Fond du Lac, Kimberly and Bay Port lead the way.
- Watch out for: Kimberly not making state? Yes, it's possible the Papermakers will not win a sixth straight state title. Kimberly might have to beat Neenah, Bay Port and Fond du Lac in consecutive weeks to make the state title game.
- Games: #8 Ashwaubenon at #1 Marshfield; #5 Hortonville at #4 Menasha; #6 Menomonie at #3 Pulaski; #7 Kaukauna at #2 River Falls (Saturday).
- Analysis: Pulaski and Menasha each have 8-1 records but will have challenges in Level 1. Meanwhile, Kaukauna is making its first playoff appearance since 2008 and Ashwaubenon has made the postseason for a 20th straight year. It's likely all local teams that win in Level 1 will be on the road in Level 2 as lower-seeded teams.
- Watch out for: Pulaski making a run. Behind RB Dylan Hendricks, who's second in the state with 2,067 rushing yards (24 TDs), the Red Raiders have the type of offense and toughness that could carry them in the postseason.
- Games: #8 Antigo at #1 West De Pere; #5 Freedom at #4 Mosinee; #6 Seymour at #3 New London; #7 Fox Valley Lutheran at #2 Notre Dame; #6 Berlin at #3 Mount Horeb/Barneveld; #5 Luxemburg-Casco at #4 Grafton.
- Analysis: West De Pere is the class of Division 3 in the area and after a likely Level 1 win could face in order Freedom, Notre Dame and then Rice Lake in Level 4. Notre Dame knocked out West De Pere last season in Level 3. Seymour and New London is a rematch from just two weeks ago and New London won that game 10-7. However, the Bulldogs will have to overcome the loss of RB Makaio Harn (1,014 rushing yards) for one game. Luxemburg-Casco has won four of its last five games and has not allowed a point in its last three games.
- Watch out for: New London making noise. The Bulldogs have not won a playoff game since 2007 (three playoff appearances) but another win against Seymour could lead to more success.
- Games: #8 Ripon at #1 Little Chute; #5 Denmark at #4 Chilton; #6 Xavier at #3 Wrightstown; #7 Two Rivers at #2 Winneconne; #7 Wautoma at #2 Edgerton; #7 University School at #2 Kiel.
- Analysis: Little Chute, Winneconne and Kiel are all undefeated. Winneconne and Wrightstown could meet in Level 2 and that winner could see Little Chute in Level 3. Xavier is coming off a "win-or-go-home" victory against Waupaca in Week 9 and plays at Wrightstown, which after seven straight wins to start the season, has lost two straight.
- Watch out for: Denmark which has won four of its last five games and only one team (Fox Valley Lutheran) has scored more than 20 points against the Vikings.
- Games: #8 Rib Lake/Prentice at #1 Kewaunee; #5 Peshtigo at #4 Southern Door; #6 Bonduel at #3 Colby; #8 Dominican at #1 St. Mary's Springs; #5 Valders at #4 Omro; #6 New Holstein at #3 Amherst.
- Analysis: Kewaunee enters the postseason perfect but its road could be challenging. After a likely Level 1 win the Storm will meet an MONLPC-Large foe, either Southern Door or Peshtigo and a rematch with either will be a test. Meanwhile, St. Mary's Springs, winners of two of the last three Division 6 titles, moves up a division. Nonetheless, the Ledgers are the favorite to win a gold ball.
- Watch out for: Southern Door. With Division I prospect Derick LeCaptain (RB/LB) the Eagles could be dangerous.
- Games: Three Lakes/Phelps at #1 Iola-Scandinavia; #5 Crivitz at #4 Coleman; #6 Auburndale at #3 Manawa; #5 Lourdes Academy at #4 Markesan.
Analysis: With Springs out of the way Iola-Scandinavia is the favorite to win the Division 6 state title. The Thunderbirds, who fell to Springs in last year's title game, could face Coleman in Level 2 and eventually play fellow #1 seed Regis in Level 4. Coleman beat Crivitz earlier this season 48-19.
Watch out for: Iola-Scandinavia making a run to its first state championship.
- Games: #6 Suring at #3 Reedsville; #7 Rosholt at #2 Hilbert.
- Analysis: Reedsville and Hilbert each have 8-1 record and despite being in the Big East Conference they didn't play each other during the regular season. That could change as with Level 1 victories they would meet in Level 2 with the winner likely meeting #1 Almond-Bancroft in Level 3.
- Watch out for: Hilbert's defense which has held five of nine opponents under 10 points.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay