As of Monday, 235 high schools out of 337 in the state are planning on a fall football season. That’s exactly 70%.
That leaves 102 schools (30 percent) opting for the truncated spring schedule.
Several districts in the state have yet to decide if the fall is the best option or if moving to the spring makes more sense.
It should be an interesting couple of weeks before the fall football season officially begins with the first day of practice on Sept. 7.
Since Monday’s figures came out, the Flyway Conference, along with the Beaver Dam, Neenah and Cuba City school districts switched to the spring option because of COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and county health departments. And unfortunately, I have to believe many other schools will follow suit, which is going to create even more of a scheduling nightmare than already exists.
In looking at the 235 schools that were planning on playing a fall schedule, at least 75% of them are located north of Wisconsin Rapids, where the population density is far lower and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far less apparent.
Last week, I delved into the prospects for the Milton Red Hawks heading into this season.
This week, let’s take a look at the Brodhead/Juda Cardinals.
Brodhead/Juda hopes to build off 2019 playoff season
From 1992 to 2016, Brodhead/Juda made a state record 25 straight playoff appearances.
That streak ended in 2017, and the Cardinals again failed to make the playoffs in 2018.
Thanks to a strong end to the regular season in 2019, Brodhead/Juda returned to the postseason once again and had hoped to build on that in 2020 thanks to a strong senior class. Brodhead/Juda opted for the spring schedule.
“I was really excited about getting started and playing in the fall because we had such great participation during the offseason,” head coach Jim Matthys said. “And even when I gave them the news that we wouldn’t be able to play until the spring, they haven’t stopped working.”
Brodhead/Juda was 4-5 during the regular season and lost to River Valley in a WIAA Division 4 playoff opener.
Matthys said despite the lopsided loss (42-0), some good came out of the game.
“First of all, River Valley was a very good football team,” Matthys said. “Our kids realized the work that needed to be done to try and get to that level, and that’s what they’ve done in the offseason.
“The score might not indicate it, but our kids played hard. Some turnovers really hurt us.”
The Cardinals averaged 22.2 points a game last season and return plenty of offensive firepower.
Senior Cade Walker is back at quarterback after throwing for 806 yards and six touchdowns last season. He is expected to be joined in the backfield by senior halfback Gage Beigle and senior fullback Braden Cook, who had 312 yards rushing and four TDs last season.
Senior Kaden Harper is expected to anchor the offensive line.
“We should be able to score some points, I would think,” Matthys said. “We’ve got good experience back, and although our offensive line might lack some experience, there is some good young talent there.”
Matthys reflects on favorite games
Payback rings loudest for Matthys in reflecting on his most memorable games he has coached.
In 2007, Rock Valley Conference rival Evansville pounded Brodhead/Juda 40-20 during the regular season. The Cardinals exacted revenge with a 6-0 win over the Blue Devils in a WIAA Division 4 state quarterfinal game.
In 2010, Walworth Big Foot edged Brodhead/Juda 21-20 during a Rock Valley regular-season game. The Cardinals turned the tables in a convincing 32-14 win in a D4 state semifinal game. Brodhead/Juda would lose 41-21 to Kewaunee in the state title game.
“The Evansville win was really something,” Matthys said. “They had pounded us pretty good during the regular-season. We scored with less than a minute left to win the playoff game.
“And beating Big Foot, obviously, got us to the state championship game. If I remember correctly, both teams scored early that game, and so the rest of the game was played between the 40-yard lines. I think we had lost to them in overtime during the regular season.”
Game of the Week
Janesville Parker at Beloit Memorial highlights what was supposed to be Week 2 of the season.
These two teams’ rivalry dates back to 1967 when Parker joined the Big Eight Conference. They’ve played every year since but would’ve met this season for the first time as nonconference opponents.
Parker was slated to join the newly formed Badger Large Conference, while Beloit was staying in the Big Eight Conference.
The Vikings’ only victory last season was a 21-7 victory over the Purple Knights.