Pride is defined as a feeling of satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
For a number of area football teams that have been eliminated from playoff discussion, pride is the prevailing theme for the final two regular-season games of 2019.
Find a way, especially for those seniors that have devoted four years to a program, to go out on a high note and with some pride.
Janesville Craig coach Adam Bunderson said that despite his team’s 1-6 record, the Cougars have plenty to play for.
“I stressed that we are going to stay positive and continue to play hard and play for each other,” Bunderson said. “Seniors have less than a month left in their football careers, so have fun and make the most of your opportunities.”
“I told our team, and seniors specifically, to make the next two weeks special.”
Brodhead/Juda has been one of the most successful programs in the area over the last 30 years. The Cardinals held the state record for most consecutive playoff appearances with 25 before that streak was snapped in 2017. Head coach Jim Matthys said playing with a purpose is the key when the playoffs are not in the picture.
“It’s not a fun place to be,” Matthys said of being eliminated from the playoffs, which Brodhead/Juda was in 2017 with two weeks left in the regular season. “But when it does happen, you have to give them something to look forward to like Senior Night or Homecoming.
“And in some cases, it’s a chance to get some guys in there that are going to help you down the road.
“You really do have to have a sense of pride as a competitor, no matter what the situation is. You owe it to yourself and your teammates to give maximum effort every time you step on the field.”
Janesville Parker is in the midst of a 23-game losing streak and has the dubious distinction of hosting unbeaten and fifth-ranked Madison Memorial in its Homecoming game Friday night at Monterey Stadium.
Parker coach Clayton Kreger said his team hasn’t lost its focus despite the long losing streak.
“We have been on the road for three straight weeks and are excited to be back for our Homecoming game,” Kreger said. “So far, towards the beginning part of the week, our kids seem to have a little extra pep in their step, giving a little extra effort in practice, as we prepare for the last few weeks of the season.
“This week, we have an amazing opportunity to compete against one of the top ranked teams in the state. We are excited to be home and look forward to playing in front of a packed crowd of friends, family and alumni.”
Losing is no fun. How you handle it can help define you as as an individual and as a teammate.
Not many marquee games are on tap for Week 8, but here’s a look at two pivotal Rock Valley Conference games with playoff and conference title implications on the line:
Evansville (7-0) at McFarland (4-3), Rock Valley, 7 p.m. Friday, McFarland High School—The Blue Devils look for a little payback after losing 48-0 a year ago to the defending conference champions.
Will the incredible turnaround continue for the Blue Devils?
Winless a year ago, Evansville is two victories away from an unbeaten regular season and an undisputed Rock Valley championship.
I’m sure it has happened, but I can’t remember a team in any sport going from not winning a conference game one season to running the table the next.
Firing on all cylinders, Evansville is averaging 40.1 points per game and has been steamrolling opponents.
Quarterback Tyr Severson has thrown for 1,548 yards and 17 touchdowns, while senior wideout Sulley Geske has 31 receptions for 529 yards and 10 TDs.
Matt Forster leads a potent rushing attack that is averaging 161.2 yards per game.
Evansville’s defense is allowing 13.2 points per game.
McFarland has been an up-and-down team all season. The Spartans lost their first two games of the season, won their next three and have split the last two weeks.
The Spartans are averaging 20.3 points per game and allowing 16.1.
Best guess: Evansville 34, McFarland 13
Brodhead/Juda (3-4) at Walworth Big Foot (4-3), Rock Valley, 7 p.m. Friday, Big Foot High School—A Big Foot win guarantees a postseason berth, while Brodhead/Juda likely needs to win one of its last two games to qualify despite a less-than-.500 conference record.
Inconsistency has plagued the Cardinals all season, and Matthys said the team’s inexperience at a number of positions is the reason why.
“When our defense plays well and our offensive line is getting a good push up front, we give ourselves a chance to win,” Matthys said. “We’ve seen progression in a number of areas from our football team, but we also continue to struggle in others.”
Brodhead/Juda is averaging 22 points and allowing 28 points per game.
First-year coach Mike Welden has Big Foot on the verge of its first playoff berth since 2016. The Chiefs are already likely in based on the number of teams expected to get a bid with a 4-5 record, but a win Friday secures a bid.
Matthys is impressed with the transformation of the Chiefs’ program.
“That coaching staff has done a great job with that team,” Matthys said. “They look nothing like the teams from the past couple years.
“There’s obviously not as much talent now as there was back then, but they look a lot like some of those really good teams Rodney (Wedig) had when he was there. They’ve got good speed and good size.”
Best guess: Big Foot 27, Brodhead/Juda 20
(7 p.m. starting time)
Madison Memorial at Janesville Parker
Janesville Craig at Madison West
Beloit Memorial at Verona
Madison East at Madison La Follette
Middleton at Sun Prairie
Beloit Turner at Clinton
Edgerton at Whitewater
Evansville at McFarland
Brodhead/Juda at Walworth Big Foot
Jefferson at East Troy
Milton at Madison Edgewood
Stoughton at Monroe
Fort Atkinson at Monona Grove
Watertown at Oregon
Delavan-Darien at Lake Geneva Badger
Union Grove at Elkhorn
Westosha Central at Wilmot
Waterford at Burlington
Palmyra-Eagle at Orfordville Parkview