Cardinals' Douglas puts team first
And who would argue with the reigning Rock Valley Back of the Year who says he's even better-suited playing middle linebacker for Brodhead/Juda?
While you're at it, don't ask the
6-1, 200-pound physical specimen which Division I colleges are in hot pursuit of his rare two-way skill set.
"He doesn't want to talk to me about it until football is over," Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said. "It's all about this season for him."
First on his unseeded Cardinals' agenda is getting out of the first round of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs tonight when they face third-seeded New Glarus/Monticello at New Glarus.
Douglas admits his team was overconfident entering last season's 28-0 loss at home to Kettle Moraine Lutheran in the opening round. This time, he cites Glarner Knights senior quarterback Ryan Bright as the player who must be neutralized if the Cards will avoid another first-round exit.
For that to happen, his Cards must display the sort of blitzkrieg-style defense that has defined their season.
"We need to come out and attack right away," Douglas said. "When we're attacking, we have better
games. I like hitting people. I'll go for a shot every time I see I have it."
That comes as little surprise to Matthys, who recalls the first time he witnessed Douglas' explosiveness. Douglas was one of several freshmen Matthys' staff brought up to practice with the regulars during the 2006 playoffs, and the young prospect left a lasting impression as he blew up half man-half locomotive fullback Gary McAdory.
"Someone came out of nowhere and knocked McAdory on his keister," Matthys said. "Right then, we knew we had something special."
In his senior season, Douglas has five sacks to go with his 1,041 yards rushing on 133 carries on the offensive side. He has scored 17 times on the ground and once receiving.
Douglas has become an elite high school prospect by emulating his predecessors. He has the sheer strength of McAdory and the vision and top-end speed of Tyler Lincoln, from whom he learned to block.
Block? That's right. Douglas loves to block.
The tailback has many functions in the Cardinals' Wing-T offense, and Lincoln taught Douglas to relish being the first lead blocker through the hole.
Such selflessness is echoed by how much Douglas relished watching the other Cardinal running backs tear apart opposing defenses while he was sidelined with an Achilles injury early this season. The Cards have amassed 2,774 yards on the ground as a team.
"It's nice knowing that if I'm not out there, we've got backs who can still score from anywhere on the field," Douglas said.
A big reason the Cards have kept rolling whether Douglas is on the field or not is the play of an experienced offensive line.
Meanwhile, Matthys praises Douglas' work ethic. Douglas praises those he's lined up alongside.
"The guys I've played around, I got it off of themójust following what they do," Douglas said.
The Cardinals are expecting a hotly contested matchup tonight, something they haven't experienced this season. Their seven wins have come by an average of 35 points, including a 48-0 victory over Orfordville Parkview in the regular-season finale.
Their two losses were also lopsided. They lost a matchup of top-six-ranked teams, 30-0, at Big Foot on Oct. 9 and fell to McFarland,
24-8, the following week.
"We killed ourselves in both of those games by turning the ball over," Douglas said.
As the Cardinals head to the postseason, Matthys puts Douglas high on his list of players he's had during his 13 years coaching the Cards, five as head coach.
"He's definitely up there as a player on both sides of the football," Matthys said. "He gets most of his ink because of his offense, but I think he's even better on the defensive side.
"He might be the best physical player I've ever coached. I don't think people realize the physical beating he takes on both sides of the ball."
That is, except the opposing players who share the impact, and almost without exception, get off the turf slower than him.