Middleton opens playoffs at Sun Prairie

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Jason Pertzborn and Middleton's football team received the No. 6 seed and will open the playoffs at third-seeded Sun Prairie Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Jason Pertzborn stood in front of his Middleton football team Monday afternoon.

Pertzborn, the Cardinals’ co-head coach, had watched in agony as Middleton was hammered by Sun Prairie, 35-7, just 72 hours earlier.

And before Middleton started a new practice week, Pertzborn had one request from his Cardinals.

“I said to them, ‘Don’t you quit on me,’ ” Pertzborn said. “I said whatever you do, let’s be sure we get another chance at (Sun Prairie).”

That chance will come Friday night.

Middleton received the No. 6 seed in its postseason grouping and will open the WIAA Division 1 playoffs at third-seeded Sun Prairie Friday at 7 p.m.

Fond du Lac, which went 9-0 during the regular season, snapped Kimberly’s 70-game winning streak and is ranked No. 1 in the state, is the top-seed in the grouping. Madison Memorial (8-1), which tied with Sun Prairie (8-1) for the Big Eight Conference championship but defeated the Cardinals in Week 1, is seeded second.

Sun Prairie is the No. 3 seed, followed by Verona (7-2), Arrowhead (6-3), Middleton (6-3), Sussex Hamilton (5-4) and Madison La Follette (4-5).

“It’s about what we expected,” Middleton co-head coach Tim Simon said. “We thought we’d be the (No.) 5 or the 6 seed. So, now we’ve got to get ready for Sun Prairie.”

Middleton struggled in all facets during its loss to Sun Prairie on Oct. 5.

Sun Prairie senior defensive end Maven Kretche had an enormous game, recording five sacks and forcing a fumble that he returned for a touchdown. Sun Prairie rolled up 467 yards of total offense and held Middleton to 24 total yards in the first half when it built a 28-7 lead.

Sun Prairie also held Middleton’s Kallion Buckner — who entered the game as the leading rusher in the Big Eight Conference — to zero rushing yards.

“One of our challenges will be getting them to believe that was not representative of who we are,” Pertzborn said.

Middleton’s coaches will point to the 2015 season when motivating the Cardinals this week.

That year, Middleton drilled Sun Prairie, 45-13, during the regular season. Just five weeks later, though, Sun Prairie — a No. 7 seed — knocked off second-seeded Middleton, 30-23 in the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s one game and anything can happen,” Simon said. “We were definitely more competitive in the second half against Sun Prairie (on Oct. 5). So we will build off of that.”

Overall, Middleton’s grouping has a combined 53-19 record for a .736 winning percentage.

Middleton qualified for the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year, which is tied for the longest Division 1 streak in the state with Arrowhead.

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