Burlington senior quarterback Brad Burling is third in the state and first in the Milwaukee area with 821 passing yards through three games. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound dual threat has already accounted for 14 touchdowns (8 pass, 6 rush). He has thrived under the offensive expertise of first-year head coach Steve Tenhagen (right). (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press)

Burlington senior quarterback Brad Burling is third in the state and first in the Milwaukee area with 821 passing yards through three games. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound dual threat has already accounted for 14 touchdowns (8 pass, 6 rush). He has thrived under the offensive expertise of first-year head coach Steve Tenhagen (right). (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press)

 

The football season is starting to get really exciting.

Gone are meaningless nonconference games, and we’re fully enamored in the conference season.

Last week, I almost went a perfect 9-0 with my picks (thanks East Troy). But I’ll still take 8-1 and a solid 21-8 start to the season.

Last week, the Burlington Demons got their first win of the Steve Tenhagen era in grand fashion, blowing out Union Grove 42-14 in a game that was close at halftime.

Also, Elkhorn and Delavan-Darien remained perfect with dominant victories over Westosha Central and Wilmot, respectively.

Waterford earned a measure of revenge from last year’s loss against a young but game Lake Geneva Badger squad.

Waterford quarterback Dylan Malecki shined brightly in the locally-televised game, throwing for more than 200 yards in the 17-7 victory.

SPORT CHECK LOGO webOther top performances from last week came from Elkhorn running back Keenan Leahy, who gained 220 rushing yards on only 21 carries with two touchdowns.

Also, Burlington quarterback Brad Burling officially became Bradley Football.

The 6-foot-2 dual threat passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns Friday, bearing a resemblance to Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football.

OK, the Demons are still only 1-2, and I shouldn’t crown Burling yet, but there’s no denying Burlington’s offense, which is averaging 37 points per game.

If Burlington’s defense can play as stellar as it did Friday night (256 total yards allowed), there’s reason to believe the Demons can contend for the SLC title.

In Week 2, we learned Waterford and Elkhorn’s defenses are dominant, and Delavan’s explosive offense is impressive.

Delavan quarterback Jesse Collins has 682 yards passing and eight touchdowns in three games, and the Comets are averaging 37.7 points per game.

This week, Elkhorn travels to Delavan in a battle of unbeatens, Burlington hosts defending conference champ Badger and Waterford goes toe-to-toe with fellow defending conference co-champ Wilmot.

By Saturday morning, we should have a better idea of who is the front-runner in the talented SLC.

Catholic Central picked up its first home win with a 43-28 whooping of Shoreland Lutheran.

Cole Kresken returned from a head injury to rush for 113 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Spencer Wilker threw for a touchdown, and Christian Nicholls returned a punt and an interception for scores.

 

PREDICTIONS

Last week: 8-1

Season: 21-8

(all games at 7 p.m. Friday night)

 

Elkhorn's Keenan Leahy is among the conference's rushing leaders. (Dave Baker/Elkhorn Independent)

Elkhorn’s Keenan Leahy is among the conference’s rushing leaders. (Dave Baker/Elkhorn Independent)

Elkhorn (3-0, 1-0 SLC) at Delavan-Darien (3-0, 1-0 SLC)

What better place to start than the battle of unbeatens?

This should be a classic matchup of explosive offense vs. stout defense.

Delavan-Darien leads the SLC with 37.7 points per game. And the Elks have only given up 14 points all season, all of which came in the second quarter.

Elkhorn only allows 70 rushing yards per game.

Delavan’s Fabias Shipman leads the conference with 344 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The Comets also boast the SLC’s top two receivers, Jake Benzing (288 yards) and Ethan Cesarz (282).

After last week’s 220-yard performance, Elkhorn running back Keenan Leahy has jumped to third in conference with 285 yards.

Stats aside, Delavan has the experience of five starting seniors on the offensive line and the most lethal weapon in the conference, Jesse Collins.

The reigning SLC offensive player of the year is an eye-popping 35-for-48 for 682 yards with eight touchdowns and only three picks.

On the ground, Collins has 176 yards and three scores.

Elkhorn’s defense is legit, but it hasn’t faced a juggernaut quite like this.

Expect an entertaining game from these rivals.

 

PREDICTION: Delavan-Darien 35, Elkhorn 21

 

Anthony Miller (46) and a committee of running backs have helped open up Waterford's passing game. (Rick Benavides/Waterford Post)

Anthony Miller (46) and a committee of running backs have helped open up Waterford’s passing game. (Rick Benavides/Waterford Post)

Waterford (2-1, 1-0) at Wilmot (1-2, 0-1)

Both teams finished with a share of the conference crown last year along with Badger.

The Panthers ran for 238 yards last week and were tied with Delavan, 14-14, in the second half. But two interceptions proved costly.

Waterford is coming off an impressive 17-7 victory over Lake Geneva Badger, where quarterback Dylan Malecki threw for 206 yards and accounted for a passing and rushing touchdown.

Also, with seven catches for 104 yards, receiver Johnny McCormick laid his claim as one of the conference’s best.

Waterford should keep Wilmot’s running attack at bay, and the Wolverines will make enough big plays to win the game.

Don’t be surprised if this one is a knock-em-down, drag-em-out, hard-hitting, low-scoring affair.

 

PREDICTION: Waterford 21, Wilmot 17

 

Lake Geneva Badger (0-3, 0-1) at Burlington (1-2, 1-0)

The Demons have never beaten the Badgers since Burlington rejoined the SLC in 2009.

The closest game was a 31-28 contest in 2010.

Matt Hensler has had superior talent and numbers, especially in the offensive line, for the past seven years. Lake Geneva has made seven straight playoff appearances and is the defending conference co-champ.

But this year has been different. With only around 10 seniors and first-year varsity players starting at quarterback and fullback, the option’s most important positions, Badger has struggled to score points.

Scoring points has been Burlington’s bread and butter, though, with 37 points per game including a season-high 42 at Union Grove last week.

The Demon defense only allowed 14 points and less than 300 yards of total offense last week.

Burlington’s offense is dangerous, and quarterback Brad Burling leads the Milwaukee area with 821 yards passing. Burling also has rushed for 282 yards and six touchdowns, including three last week.

Tristan Steiner leads Badger with 149 rushing yards, and quarterback Isaac Ziervogel has 144. Badger will run the ball a ton, but don’t sleep on Ziervogel, who has 160 yards passing.

I covered the Badgers for five years in Lake Geneva, and they are legit. They always have plenty of talent, and the coaching staff is top-notch.

However, the Demons are scoring big with a new system and are only going to get better.

Expect Burling to find targets like Hunter Melby (204 rushing yards), Frank Hozeska (235 receiving yards) and Ty Wiemer (180 receiving yards) early and often.

Badger’s run game will be tough, but Burlington’s defense will make enough big plays to keep Lake Geneva off the scoreboard.

 

PREDICTION: Burlington 31, Lake Geneva Badger 21

 

Catholic Central (2-1, 1-0 MCC) at Greendale Martin Luther (0-3, 0-1)

Catholic Central senior Jeff Stemper and Cole Kresken should see plenty of running room against Martin Luther. (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press)

Catholic Central senior Jeff Stemper and Cole Kresken should see plenty of running room against Martin Luther. (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press)

The Toppers erupted for 43 points last week and picked up their first Metro Classic Conference victory.

Catholic Central was effective in the passing game, with Ben Heiligenthal taking most of the snaps but Spencer Wilker also completing a touchdown pass in the Toppers’ two-minute drill just before the half.

Then, on the opening drive of the second half, Cole Kresken scored on a 19-yard touchdown run to help put the game out of reach.

Christian Nicholls returned a punt and an interception for touchdowns, proving even more his threat in all three phases of the game.

Martin Luther is bigger than the Toppers up front, but Central has more quickness, according to Catholic Central coach Tom Aldrich.

“They have good speed,” Aldrich said about Luther. “But we’re more worried about ourselves.”

Martin Luther lost to Racine Lutheran, 37-34, to open conference play last week.

Central has too many weapons in this one.

 

PREDICTION: Catholic Central 45, Martin Luther 21

 

Union Grove (2-1, 0-1) at Westosha Central (0-3, 0-1)

The Broncos got a reality check last week after their near-flawless 0-2 start.

Burlington came into town and put on an offensive display.

However, Union Grove hung with the Demons into the third quarter, and the program is making major strides under second-year head coach Jordan Hein.

The Falcons were shut out, 21-0, last week at Elkhorn, and they haven’t scored than nine points in a game (5.1 ppg) against three very good defenses, Elkhorn, Big Foot and South Milwaukee.

Union Grove has a tough defense, but maybe the home turf will inspire the Falcons to finally reach the win column.

Travis Cadd (327 rushing yards) and the Broncos will be too much for Westosha.

 

PREDICTION: Union Grove 28, Westosha Central 20

 

More picks

Brodhead-Juda 33, East Troy 17

Jefferson 29, Big Foot 24

Williams Bay 31, Hustisford 18

Mukwonago 40, Waukesha North 21

Muskego 30, Waukesha West 27

 

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