Brodhead/Juda QB big key to Cards’ success
Cardinals coach Jim Matthys is counting on his three-year starting quarterback’s maturity to pay off Saturday in a WIAA Division 4 semifinal against undefeated Wrights-town (12-0).
In the playoffs, Brodhead/Juda defeated Platteville, 55-20, Racine St. Catherine’s, 32-21, and Lakeside Lutheran, 28-21, last Saturday to reach the semifinals.
Earleywine completed 5 of 10 passes for 169 yards and made several key plays with his feet to help Brodhead/Juda defeat Lakeside .
“This year, (Earleywine) came in and he has been pretty solid for us,” said Matthys, who recounted Earleywine’s growing pains his sophomore and junior years. “He has a rough outing here and there, but nothing glaring that said it wasn’t a good game for him.’’
Matthys said Earleywine’s growth has been impressive.
“He knows what formations we want to run,’’ Matthys said of his recently selected all-conference quarterback. “Probably two, three times a game he’s corrected me on formations, and that’s great. That’s what you want.’’
“The biggest thing for him this year was when we are throwing the ball he was being able to look at a second and third read instead of always having to go to the first guy.’’
Earleywine has completed 70 of 123 passes for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, with five interceptions. He also has rushed for 175 yards on 50 carries.
A victory over Wrightstown would send the Cardinals (10-2) back to the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium at
7 p.m. next Thursday for another shot at the Division 4 state title.
Brodhead/Juda lost to Kewaunee, 41-21, in the 2010 Division 4 championship game.
Returning to Camp Randall is a driving force behind the Cards.
“One of the goals we had at the beginning of the year was to get back there again,” Matthys said. “We lost to a very good Kewaunee team, but I think the team felt that with a year of growing up things would be a little bit different and they would know what to expect when they got there.’’
The son of Steve and Kathy Earleywine is comfortable with his role.
“I feel like I’ve matured a lot over the past three years,” Earleywine said. “I know going into my sophomore year, I felt outmatched physically. But I felt I had it mentally. I felt I was ready to go, but looking back on it, I was not even close to where I am this year.’’
Earleywine believes the Cardinals are poised to win on Saturday and earn a return trip to Madison.
“Coach said we’ve played in more playoff games than any other senior class,” Earleywine said. “I don’t think we have to make a ton of changes from what we did last year. We just have to keep playing with heart and desire.’’
Matthys said Wrightstown’s sturdy defense will present a challenge.
“They have an attacking 4-3 defense and some good athletes in the secondary that are going to cause us some problems,” Matthys said. “They have pretty good size in the middle. Their linebackers are real good, especially their middle linebacker.’’
Earleywine isn’t expecting any tricks from the Olympian-Packerland Large Conference champion Tigers, who won the Division 4 state title in 2006 with a 41-23 victory over Mayville.
“They don’t try to throw fancy stuff at you,” Earleywine said. “They are very good at what they do. Their line gets off the ball well.”
Earleywine admits to pre-game nerves, but he has experienced those feelings before. Once the game begins, he will be ready to roll.
“Once the kickoff and the first snap comes off, the butterflies are gone and you settle in,” Earleywine said. “It a good nervous, and it’s fun.’’