A lack of overall talent and a rash of key injuries took care of Brodhead/Juda’s 25-year streak of making the WIAA football playoffs last season.
Veteran head coach Jim Matthys is confident his team can start another streak this season.
“It was something we were definitely proud of,” Matthys said of the quarter-century streak.
“We knew going into last year that talent-wise, we weren't going to be as good as we were in the past. We only had eight seniors, and of those eight, only four played a lot. And when we played Evansville the second to last game of the year, we had eight starters out with injuries.
“So what we knew was going to be a tough year, got tougher.”
But after that 2-7 season, the numbers are better, and so should be the Cardinals. Matthys was satisfied with the Cardinals’ play in their scrimmage against Oregon, Elkhorn and Sauk Prairie on Friday.
“We didn’t have any issues moving the ball, and I didn’t feel anybody ran through us on defense,” Matthys said.
Jeffrey Williams, a senior running back, will be one of the main factors on offense. Williams earned second-team all-Rock Valley Conference honors last season, when he rushed for 804 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 55 yards and a score.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound back has been a starter since he was a sophomore.
He will run behind a line that returns four of five starters, and the fifth did start after the injuries piled up last season.
Junior Dayton Oliver returns to anchor the line at center. Nick Noonan returns at one guard, along with tackles Matt Mordhorst, a senior, and Jake Miller, a junior. Senior Jon Elsner saw extensive action last season and will be at the other guard.
“We had a lot of kids that got experience that hurt us last year, but it will help us this year,” Matthys said.
The line will have to protect junior Nick Naramore, who begins his first season at varsity quarterback.
Marco Bueno will start at fullback, and Max Harding will back up Williams.
Naramore’s top target will be returning starter Seth Allen, a 6-1, 170-pound senior.
Noonan, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, is the expected leader on defense at inside linebacker.
Miller, a 6-1, 215-pound junior, returns as a starter on the defensive line. He will be joined by senior Jacob Mahlkuch.
Williams and Allen will lead the secondary.
With 64 players in the program, Matthys believes success will return.
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