The addition of Wisconsin Lutheran to the Woodland West makes a crowded conference tougher, with Pewaukee, New Berlin Eisenhower and Greendale already among the top middle-sized schools in the area. West Allis Central also joins the fray from the Greater Metro, with Wauwatosa West leaving and taking the Bulldogs' place. Both crossover games count in the standings this year, including the randomly assigned battle at some point in the regular-season schedule and the true crossover in Week 9 assigned by place-finish.
New Berlin Eisenhower
Last year: 7-3 (5-1 in conference)
Outcome: Lost in Level 1 of Division 3 playoffs to Wisconsin Lutheran, 33-24
Coach: Matt Kern
First team: Stephen Halusan (WR), Dylan Abott (OL), Bryce Miller (QB), Brett Angiolo (DB)
Honorable mention: Jake Belongia (RB)
First-team losses: Mike Keller (OL), Joey Scaffidi (RB), Bryce Wesling (K/P), Adam Lancaster (DT), Max Maier (ILB)
Outlook: Bryce Miller lit it up in his first year at quarterback last year, tossing for 22 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards, and top receiver Stephen Halusan is back for many of that yardage. Ike will get a regular-season crack at its nemesis Wisco, which has bounced the Lions from the playoffs each of the past two years. In a very difficult conference to call, we'd give a slight edge to Ike as the title favorite.
Last year: 11-2 (5-1 in conference)
Outcome: Lost in Level 4 of Division 3 playoffs to Catholic Memorial, 30-7
Coach: Justin Friske
First team: Seth Bickett (RB/DT), David Young (DB), Connor Vogt (DB)
First-team losses: Blaze Beltran (OL/DE), Nathan Kolbow (OL), Brandon Berg (ILB)
Outlook: After reaching Level 4 for the first time in program history, the Pirates return one of the conference's best players in two-way standout Seth Bickett, a starter since freshman year on defense and a key ball-carrier last year as a junior. Speedy David Young is another major asset for a team that did beat Wisco last year -- albeit on a last-second touchdown catch by returnee Connor Vogt. The Pirates are routinely one of the best squads in the area, even if they aren't blessed with a boatload of top returnees. Quarterback Josh Swanson is among those who return.
Last year: 7-3 (4-2 in conference)
Outcome: Lost in Level 1 of Division 3 playoffs to Plymouth, 31-7
Coach: Rob Stoltz
First team: Jaelen Johnson (DE), Ray Rosalez (OLB)
Honorable mention: Josh Dymond (OL)*, Ricky Rosales (DE), Kyle Weinkauf (DB)
First-team losses: Zach Harrison (WR), Mike Witkowski (OL/DL), Matt Thelen (DB)
A lot of Greendale's success seems tied to talented quarterback Mitchell Gnadt, who battled some inconsistency and injuries last season despite some impressive showings, including a huge Week 1 effort in a win over Menomonie. It was an odd year for the Panthers, who bring back a number of top players on defense if the squad can return to its typical playmaking self on offense.
New Berlin West
Last year: 5-5 (3-3 in conference)
Outcome: Lost in Level 1 of Division 3 playoffs to Catholic Memorial, 33-6
Coach: Ben Chossek
First team: Nate Artenian (DB)
Honorable mention: Egan Iwanski (K)
First-team losses: Matthew Schmidt (OL), Max Maleski (RB), Tony Gress (ILB)
Outlook: The Woodland West now looks like a Big 4 with Pewaukee, Ike, Greendale and Wisco, but it's not as if New Berlin West was a pushover last year. It's easy to forget that eventual state champ Catholic Memorial led just 6-0 until a touchdown on one of the final plays before halftime in Level 1 of the playoffs, and West only lost to Greendale by a 13-0 score. Still, the Vikings will have to work for everything they can get to reach the playoffs; it can't afford to lose either of its crossovers.
West Allis Central
Last year: 4-6 (3-4 in conference)
Outcome: Did not qualify for playoffs
Coach: Ray Hubbard
Outlook: A transplant from the Greater Metro Conference, Central comes into the year without any returning All Conference players and a new coach in Ray Hubbard, who took over when Keith Ringelberg was hired at Greenfield. The Bulldogs won't be seen as a fearsome threat at first; they haven't been the playoffs since 2004. But this is certainly a program to keep an eye on. It's easy to forget that Central finished within one win of the playoffs last year in the tough GMC, with a victory over eventual playoff qualifier Menomonee Falls.
*Junior in 2017-18
**Sophomore in 2017-18 (rest are seniors)
The rest of the league
Schools outside the Now coverage zone
Wisconsin Lutheran -- The Vikings are certainly a big new name on the block, but as fearsome as the program has been, it did graduate every single player who netted All-Conference merit in the Wisconsin Little Ten last year save for first-team offensive lineman Adler Peterson. That's not to say this won't be a top-three team; it's just not obvious that Wisco is going to come in and immediately assume a playoff spot.
Milwaukee Pius -- Four of the five players who earned All-Conference mention last year are coming back, but the departure is exciting quarterback Tylen Rhodes.