Brodhead/Juda looks to keep playoff streak alive
Brodhead/Juda might be a year away from contending for a Rock Valley Conference title.
The Cardinals have a talented junior class, but inexperience at a number of key positions will likely keep them from challenging this season.
Challenging for a playoff berth, however, seems almost a formality. Brodhead/Juda has qualified for the postseason for a state-record 25 straight times.
Head coach Jim Matthys said his young team should be fun to watch.
“I know we’re returning a lot next year, but I really like the progress we’ve shown thus far this season between our first week of practice and the second,” Matthys said. “We’re grasping things a little bit better each and every day and are further ahead than I thought we’d be at this point.
“Because of our inexperience at a number of positions, it’s forcing me to do and try some things we haven’t done before. We can’t afford too many injuries because we don’t have a lot of depth at certain positions, but athletic-wise, we’re solid.”
The offense has thrived under the Wing-T for over 20 years and that won’t change this season.
Junior Quinton Kammerer and senior Parker Johnson are battling for the starting quarterback job.
The backfield will be led by junior Jeffrey Williams (5-7, 150) at fullback. He was the team’s second-leading rusher last season.
Senior Brekan Day (6-1,175) and senior Seth Allen (5-11, 160) will split the tailback duties, along with senior Jace Morris (5-10, 140) and sophomore Max Harding (6-0, 165). Allen gained 200 yards against Evansville/Albany last season before being injured. Day won the WIAA Division 2 state title in the high jump this past spring.
“We’ve got some excellent options,” Matthys said. “Each one of those guys brings a little some different to the plate.”
Senior Justice Tway (6-2, 190) is the top returning wideout, while Clayton Hale (5-10, 175) and Caleb Urb are the tight ends.
Trent Davis (5-11, 230) and Nate Lawrence (5-8, 210) are returning starters on the offensive line. Dayton Oliver is slated to start at center.
As has been the case in the longtime success of the Brodhead/Juda program, a number of athletes will play both ways.
Matthys is high on a secondary that features Day, Parker, Tway and Allen.
Williams and Lawrence both return at outside linebacker, while Davis, an all-conference selection, is at inside linebacker.
Theo Policastro returns at noseguard.
“We’ve gone with the 4-4 defense for a long time and have the athletes this year that can make plays,” Matthys said. “There’s definitely more experience on the defensive side of the ball.”
Although the postseason streak is impressive, Matthys said it’s a record that will probably mean more down the road. It’s never been bulletin board material.
“We know how hard it is to get there (postseason), but I can honestly say it’s not something that I or the other coaches have ever brought up,” Matthys said. “Someday we can look back as a program and say it’s something we’re proud of, no doubt.
“Our expectations don’t change year in and year out. Making the playoffs is just one of our goals.”
A goal that has been met for 25 straight seasons.