|Broadhead-Juda loses in title game, but savors special season|
|Written by By Rick West|
|Tuesday, 23 November 2010 14:19|
BRODHEAD — They fell short of a first state football championship, but the Broadhead-Juda Cardinals know they’ll be remembered as one of the best teams in school history.
“It’s so hard to lose, but to lose at the state championship is probably one of the best losses you can have,” said Alex Wallace, Brodhead’s 170-pound senior running back. “We’re one of the top teams in Division 4 and we got to play in Camp Randall, which was our dream all along.”
Seeking its first state football championship, the Cardinals lost Nov. 18 in Madison to undefeated Kewaunee in the Division 4 title game.
The Storm capped a 14-0 season with a 41-21 win over the 11-3 Cardinals. Broadhead-Juda also lost in the title game in 2003, and has made 19 consecutive appearances in the state playoffs.
Wallace led the Cardinals with 98 yards rushing and scored the team’s second touchdown against Kewaunee.
The Storm, playing in the championship game for the fifth time in six years, won its first title. They lost last year to Walworth-Big Foot, the Cardinals’ chief rival in the Rock Valley Conference.
“(Kewaunee) certainly came in on a mission and I think we handled all that pretty well,” said Broadhead-Juda sixth-year head coach Jim Matthys.
The Cardinals led 14-7 until the Storm generated momentum with a 16-yard touchdown run by Brent Reimer with just over one minute to go before halftime.
“We needed to come out in the second half and do something with that first drive, and hats off to (Kewaunee), they made a few adjustments that slowed our running game down a little bit,” Matthys said.
Storm running back Craig Christman scored three second-half touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 169 yards.
“I don’t think they expected maybe as close of a game, to be real honest with you, and I think they cranked it up in the second half,” Matthys said.
The title run might have seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season, when the team had to replace 16 starters from the 2009 playoff squad.
“The kids did a good job of taking that 1-0 mentality the whole year; nobody ever looked ahead or behind, but were focused on just that week,” Matthys said. “I don’t think (the final week) was any different.”
The Cardinals season began in late August with a 28-14 nonconference loss to River Valley. Two weeks later, the team fell 21-20 to Big Foot in the Rock Valley Conference opener.
“I think it proved to them how good we could be,” Matthys said of the close loss to the defending state champions.
The next week, the Cardinals began a 10-game winning streak with a 21-8 win over Evansville.
“We all really starting playing with heart and playing together,” said Nick Jacobson, a 6-foot-3, 211-pound senior, and Rock Valley South lineman of the year. “Plus, the feeling of winning was awesome.”
For a time earlier in the year, it appeared the school might not field a team this season. Sports, music and drama were among budget cuts promised by the school board if voters rejected a $3.6 million tax hike referendum.
The measure failed, as did a scaled-back $1.7 million initiative in April.
“Our football team was really down because we weren’t sure if we would be able to play this season,” Wallace said.
Public opposition to cuts in extracurriculars persuaded the school board to trim elsewhere, however, and now the entire district is celebrating the accomplishments of its football team
“There was so much divisiveness within the community, and I think the football team advancing as far as it did … helped bring the community back together,” said school board President Theresa Earleywine. “Is it totally healed from that? I don’t think so, but it goes a long way to bringing the community back together.”
The experience also brought the team closer together, Wallace said.
“It helped our team play as one … and our connection (to each other) was so much closer than the last couple of years,” he said.
“(At the beginning of the year), I didn’t think we’d make it this far,” he said. “It was fulfilling a dream.”
|Last Updated on Monday, 29 November 2010 12:22|