After the first six weeks of high school football, Brodhead/Juda is the sole area team that has not lost.
Because of WIAA realignment, the Cardinals have an asterisk by “area team.”
Sure, Brodhead is only a 20-mile drive from Janesville, but since the Cardinals’ move into the Southwest Wisconsin Conference in 2021 from the Rock Valley Conference, their opponents are foreign to most Gazette circulation readers.
Instead of playing area foes such as Evansville, Edgerton, Beloit Turner, Whitewater or Clinton, the Cardinals now line up against Prairie du Chien, Lancaster, Platteville, Dodgeville, Richland Center and River Valley.
And the Cardinals are doing quite well.
Brodhead/Juda is 11-0 in one-plus seasons in the SWC, including 4-0 this season, ensuring the Cardinals’ WIAA playoff berth. In those 11 victories, the Cardinals have outscored their conference foes 482-84.
The Cardinals are 17-1 overall since 2021, with a 35-20 loss to Belleville in a WIAA Division 5 quarterfinal game last year the only blemish.
Brodhead/Juda, which is ranked No. 3 in this week’s Division 5 WisSports.net Coaches Poll behind Aquinas and Mayville, might have had the same success in the Rock Valley. But the Cardinals are enjoying life playing teams located toward the Mississippi River instead of the Rock River.
“It’s been a good fit for us size-wise,” Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a little bit more travel, but it’s been good for us. We haven’t looked back.”
Most of the teams in the SWC are Division 5 size, which was not the case in the Rock Valley.
“It’s a lot of rural towns,” Matthys said “The Rock Valley … you start playing the McFarlands, the Jeffersons, some of those schools are almost twice as big as us.
“The Rock Valley really hasn’t been the same since they split up the original eight anyways,” he said.
The Cardinals’ unblemished record will be put to a legitimate test during the final three weeks of the regular season. The challenging final stretch starts with a nonconference game at Adams-Friendship on Friday night.
Nonconference matchups at this stage of the season are rare, but both teams play in a seven-team conference, which requires three nonconference games to fill the nine-game regular season.
The Green Devils match the Cardinals’ 6-0 record and are tied for the South Central Conference lead with Wisconsin Dells at 4-0. They have averaged 48 points a game and allowed an average of 10.
“There are a lot of parallels between us and them,” Matthys said. “They’re aggressive and physical and have a lot of speed. It’s going to be a big test for us.”
Friday night’s contest is Adams-Friendship’s homecoming game, which adds to Brodhead/Juda’s challenge.
After Friday, Brodhead/Juda will prepare for its SWC showdown at Prairie du Chien on Oct. 7.
The Blackhawks—who Matthys said has become his team’s main rival—have matched the Cardinals’ 4-0 conference record going into their Friday night game at Dodgeville.
“And after that we’ve got Lancaster, so it doesn’t get any better,” Matthys said.
Middleton (3-3 overall, 3-1 in Big Eight) at Janesville Parker (4-2, 2-2), Friday, 7 p.m., at Monterey Stadium—Just a few minutes after Middleton defeated Craig 35-7 at Monterey Stadium last Friday night, Cardinals coach Jason Pertzborn had his team thinking about this coming Friday.
“I told the kids, ‘You know what your reward is? You get to come back here next week,’” Pertzborn said. “Now we’re familiar with the territory.”
Parker will have to contend with a Middleton offensive front that covers a lot of that territory.
Including their tight end, the Cardinals front line measures 6-foot-8, 240 pounds; 6-6, 250; 6-1, 255; 6-1, 290; 6-2, 270 and 6-6, 285. That line helped the Cardinals rush for 324 yards in 45 carries against the Cougars, led by junior tailback Bryce Falk’s 244 yards in 33 carries and four TDs.
The Vikings are coming off an easy 40-7 victory at Madison West.
Parker coach Clayton Kreger said his team won’t back down from the Cardinals.
“Middleton is a good football team,” he said. “We are a good football team.”
Jeff Rowin, a 6-4 junior, took over as Parker’s starting quarterback against the Regents. Rowin completed 14 of 15 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns. Five different receivers caught at least one completion.
Middleton and Parker have played three common Big Eight opponents.
Middleton defeated Craig 35-7; Parker beat the Cougars 35-33. Both teams lost to first-place Verona, Middleton 13-7 and Parker 26-19. Middleton defeated Madison Memorial 45-21; the Vikings lost to the Spartans 23-16.
“We haven’t played a team with a losing record, so it’s been tough sledding,” Pertzborn said last Friday. “It’s been a physical six weeks.”
He can count on another one against Parker.
The game is Teacher Appreciation Night with all district staff admitted free with a staff badge.
Janesville Craig (3-2-1, 2-2) at Madison East (0-6, 0-4), Friday, 7 p.m., at Lussier Stadium—The Cougars are coming off their bruising loss against Middleton and cannot overlook winless Madison East.
Craig coach Adam Bunderson said the Cougars must contain East quarterback Emmanuel Bingham and wide receiver Demond Langeon.
“They run some option, so being assignment sound will be important for our defense,” Bunderson said. “They are pretty aggressive on defense and play a lot of man coverage.”
AREA GAMES FRIDAY
(7 p.m.) BADGER LARGE
Milton (2-4 overall, 2-2 conference) at Sun Prairie East (4-2, 3-1)
Delavan-Darien (2-4, 2-2) at Jefferson (1-5, 1-3)
Evansville (3-3, 3-1) at Whitewater (0-6, 0-4)
Edgerton (2-4, 2-2) at Monroe (6-0, 4-0)
Elkhorn (2-4, 0-4) at Waterford (3-3, 3-1)
Westosha Central (5-1, 3-1) at Badger (5-1, 4-0)
Beloit Memorial (2-4, 1-3) at Burlington (2-4, 1-3)
Big Foot (1-5, 0-4) at New Glarus/Monticello (0-6, 0-4)
Turner (3-3, 1-3) at Madison Edgewood (4-2, 2-2)
Columbus (6-0, 4-0) at Lodi (6-0, 4-0)
Clinton (4-2, 2-2) at Palmyra-Eagle (2-4, 1-3)
Parkview/Albany (0-6, 0-3) at Fennimore (1-5, 0-4)
Brodhead/Juda (6-0) at Adams-Friendship (6-0)