Union Grove’s Thomas Hempel breaks up a pass intended for Waterford’s Dominic Miller last week. At 3-3 in the SLC, the Broncos can make the postseason for the first time since 2015 with an upset victory over Lake Geneva Badger tonight. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

Think back to 2011.

You had the 96-win Milwaukee Brewers win the National League Division Series, and the Green Bay Packers began the season 9-0 and went on to earn the No. 1 seed with a 15-1 mark.

Not to mention the Wisconsin Badgers had a couple guys by the names of J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson, along with Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon and all kinds of superstars, like Sharon native Travis Frederick, and made it all the way to the Rose Bowl.

That would never be topped, right?

Wrong.

This year is even better.

With the Brewers’ 6-0 victory Sunday, they are headed to the National League Championship Series starting Friday night against the defending NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Don’t fight destiny, people, this is the Brewers’ year, man. They are on an 11-game win streak, and I don’t see them stopping until maybe the World Series.

No matter what happens, it’s the first Brewers team in my lifetime where I can honestly see them winning it all.

The pitching staff is that special, and the batting order has the right mix of talent, baseball savvy and hunger to make it happen.

I still have to pinch myself at times because it’s freaking unbelievable, but the Brewers are super legit.

No matter how much disrespect they get from the national media, Milwaukee embraces the underdog role and will march on by defeating the Dodgers.

I had the privilege of attending last Friday’s game two against the Rockies, and I darn near cried tears of joy at how engaged the packed house of 45,000 was the entire game – not only when something good happened, but literally EVERY pitch, from the first inning on.

OK, so the Green Bay Packers are struggling, but we still have Aaron Rodgers, so we’re good.

Christian Yelich is another MVP candidate for the Brewers, and don’t forget Giannis Antetounkoumpo for the Milwaukee Bucks, who open the NBA regular season in the brand spanking new Fiserv Forum next week.

So yeah, take the title-contending Brewers, Rodgers-led Packers and exciting Bucks, oh, and don’t forget the 4-1, 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badger football team, and life is good in cheese land.

Please cancel all the pumpkin patch visits and take off work this weekend, because the baseball playoffs will be must-see television, along with Badgers vs. Michigan Saturday, followed by Packers-49ers on Monday Night Football.

Thank you, God, for these sports teams.

They make life a lot more fun.

 

FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS

Last week: 7-4

Season: 63-23

 

Extra Special Game of the Week

 

Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (96-67), NLCS, Friday-Saturday, Monday-Wednesday

Milwaukee continues to finalize a new 25-man roster for only its third NLCS in the franchise’s 49-year history, and it could look a bit different from the Colorado series.

While the mainstays will all play, the Brewers must consider whether Eric Thames’ regular season success against Dodgers’ closer Kenlee Jansen is enough to earn him a roster spot, or if it would be smart to add a couple extra pitchers, like relievers Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno, to stock up for a longer seven-game series.

Los Angeles owns the season series, 4-3, including two straight victories in August, one a walkoff in 10 and another a 21-5 mugging.

A stunning seven Dodgers have hit 20 or more home runs this season, led by perennial All-Star Manny Machado and journeyman-done-right Max Muncy, who belted 38 this season.

Sprinkle in Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Matt Kemp and Brewers killer Yasmani Grandal, and this will be a much stiffer challenge for the Brewer pitching staff, which allowed a grand total of two runs in 28 innings in the three-game disposal of Colorado.

All-world pitcher Clayton Kershaw, a two-time Cy Young award recipient and one of the five best hurlers in the game, will be extremely difficult to beat Friday in Game One, and he will probably turn around and start on short rest in Game Four Tuesday.

But the Brewers have beaten Kershaw before at Miller Park this year, and with championship players and leaders in the clubhouse like Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Ryan Braun, Joakim Soria and others, I don’t see Milwaukee coming into the series unprepared, especially after a nice four-day rest.

Look for more dominant Brewers pitching and just enough runs to survive a very, very good Dodgers squad that took eventual World Series Champion Houston to seven games before bowing out in 2017.

L.A. is playing in its third straight NLCS, but teams don’t go on 11-game win streaks ever, quite frankly, especially in late September and October.

 

PREDICTION: Milwaukee def. Los Angeles, 4-2

 

High school football

 

Game of the week

 

Union Grove (4-4, 3-3 SLC) at Lake Geneva Badger (3-5, 3-3), 7 p.m., Friday

The only local game with any real significance this Friday, both teams are one win away from making the playoffs, which will be determined by midnight after the conclusion of Friday’s games.

The Broncos scored a nail-biting victory over Elkhorn, 21-19, two weeks ago for Homecoming, thanks to a big touchdown hookup from Luke Hansel to Luke Nelson.

Hansel, a senior who took over quarterback duties from the injured Nash Wolf, totaled nearly 300 yards, 93 on the ground, to knock off the pesky Elks.

But this game is on natural grass, which plays to Badger’s muddy, nasty offensive line, which should overpower the Broncos’ defensive front.

Union Grove hasn’t been great on the road this season, and Badger put up 200 rushing yards last week to beat Elkhorn.

Lake Geneva head coach Matt Hensler has made the postseason in each of his 11 seasons, and that won’t change in 2018.

 

PREDICTION: Lake Geneva Badger 30, Union Grove 23

 

Elkhorn (2-6, 2-4 SLC) at Burlington (6-2, 4-2), 7 p.m., Friday

The Nick Webley-less Demons, who have had to rely more on the run game the past two weeks, played their worst football of the season in a 38-0 loss at Wilmot last week.

And the Elks are suddenly playing strong football, with close losses at Union Grove and against defending SLC champion Lake Geneva.

Quarterback Mason Buelow has found two dangerous pass-catching weapons in Nick Rockweiler and Jake Mogensen, and the Elks are showing fight and a high level of competition.

The Demons badly need a bounce-back game, and the fact that teams can run on the Elks plays into Burlington’s hands, as Zach Wallace and Dalton Damon should see more holes open than against Wilmot, which features an elite defense.

Look for Damon to get back on track in the passing game with Lucas Zasada and a motivated Demons squad looking to improve its playoff seed with sound, disciplined football.

 

PREDICTION: Burlington 35, Elkhorn 21

 

Other area predictions

Waterford 60, Delavan-Darien 20

Wilmot 52, Westosha Central 28

Racine Lutheran 24, Catholic Central 21

Big Foot 44, Edgerton 24

East Troy 50, Beloit Turner 40

Muskego 45, Mukwonago 20

Franklin 55, Kenosha Tremper 28

Jefferson 33, Whitewater 10

Palmyra-Eagle 63, Monticello/Princeton/Green Lake 12

 

 

 

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