Four squads team up for six titles
By Greg Seubert
Which area team has had the most success over the years in the WIAA state football playoffs?
Two programs with a combined four state championships and eight title game appearances come to mind: Waupaca and Amherst.
The Comets and Falcons have an opportunity to add to that success, as the 2016 season for most area teams kicks off Friday, Aug. 19.
Wild Rose is the only local team to open the season Thursday, Aug. 18, as the Wildcats head to Oshkosh for a 7 p.m. nonconference matchup with Lourdes Academy.
Games scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 19 include Waupaca at Green Bay East, Manawa at Iola-Scandinavia, Weyauwega-Fremont at Adams-Friendship, Amherst at Omro, Fall River at Almond-Bancroft, Shawano at Clintonville, New London at Xavier, Kaukauna at Hortonville and Marion/Tigerton at Dodgeland,
Waupaca has a 43-26 record in 28 playoff appearances dating back to 1987, all under former coach John Koronkiewicz. The Comets have made the playoffs each year since 1991, Wisconsin’s second-longest current streak; won Division 3 state championships in 2006 and 2008; and finished as D3 state runner-up in 1994, 2002 and 2012.
Tom Noltner joined the Comets as an assistant coach in 1990 and takes over for Koronkiewicz, who stepped down after the 2015 season.
“Hopefully, we can continue that great tradition,” he said. “One of our goals is to be in the upper half of the (North Eastern Conference).
The North Eastern also includes West De Pere, Seymour, Xavier and Menasha, all playoff teams in 2015.
“We want to be in the top four also,” Noltner said. “With hard work and trying to keep things simplified, hopefully, we can be in that top level and make the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Amherst has a 19-5 postseason record in seven playoff seasons. The Falcons qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 2001 and since then have won Division 5 state championships in 2012 and 2015 and played for a Division 5 state title in 2014 under coach Mark Lusic.
It won’t take the Falcons long to see a quality program, as Amherst will host defending Division 6 state champion St. Mary’s Springs Friday, Aug. 26.
“I know a lot of people have circled that one as kind of a measuring stick for us and them to see how everybody stands,” Lusic said. Of course we want to win and be successful, but it’s not a do-or-die moment. It’s the second game of the season.”
All 11 area teams have won at least four playoff games over the years and seven of them have either won at least one championship or played for a state title.
Clintonville has an 8-9 record in 10 playoff seasons. The Truckers finished second in Class A in 1976 and won the Division 2 title two years later, both under former coach Chet Jurkovac.
Iola-Scandinavia is 23-25 in 25 playoff seasons dating back to 1984. The Thunderbirds finished second in Division 5 in 1999 and Division 6 in 2007 under coach Scott Erickson.
Manawa is 12-19 in 20 playoff seasons dating back to 1983 and won the Division 5 state championship in 1985 under former coach Bob Lieberman.
New London has a 9-11 record in 11 playoff seasons going back to 1982 and finished second in Division 3 in 2007 under former coach Pete Mroczynski.
Wild Rose is 9-19 in 19 playoff seasons since 1976 and finished as the state runner-up in Class C in 1976 under former coach Jim Erdman,
Playoff records of other local teams are Almond-Bancroft, 9-12 in 12 seasons since 1997; Hortonville, 5-12 in 12 seasons since 1984; Marion, 1-3 in three seasons from 1988 to 2008 and 3-4 in four seasons since 2009 as a co-op team with Tigerton; and Weyauwega-Fremont, 7-8 in eight seasons since 1987.