BRODHEAD, Wis.—You would be hard pressed to find a team in the area who has had more recent success than the Jim Matthys and the Brodhead/Juda Cardinals.
The Cardinals had an undefeated 7-0 record in the 2020 spring alternate season, and they went on a tear in the 2021 season, winning their first 11 games before being knocked out by Belleville in level 3 of the WIAA playoffs.
Nobody would sneer at that kind of run, but Matthys said that Brodhead/Juda is hungry for much more.
“The biggest thing we’ve talked about all offseason was our loss to Belleville,” he said. “It left a bad taste in our mouths. And that’s kind of been sitting in the back of our minds. It’s driving not only the kids, but the coaches. We want to build on last year; we don’t want last year to be just a flash in the pan type of thing.”
The Cardinals will have to overcome some key losses to repeat such a dominant performance. Running back Gage Boegli, who was the 2021 Beloit Daily News All-Area Player of the Year, graduated. Offensive lineman Colton Buttke and tight end Brady Malkow, who were both part of the 2021 BDN All-Area Football Team, also have finished their high school careers.
“We didn’t lose a lot of seniors,” Matthys said. “But the ones we lost are pretty talented and really good. But we also have some really hungry kids that were sitting there behind those guys. That’s what’s really been nice about our program in the last few years, we’ve been able to build depth.”
Quarterback Cole Hoesly, who threw for 869 yards and 16 touchdowns, is yet another graduation loss. Junior Marcus McIntyre and sophomore Gabe Bockhop have been sharing the QB role throughout practice, and that is a plan that will continue into the season.
“They both bring some different things to the table,” Matthys said. “Right now we’ll go with both of them. And different situations will warrant (one or the other). But, both of them will get an opportunity.”
Filling Boegli’s shoes will obviously be tough, but Matthys has confidence in junior Leon Saunders, who hasn’t gotten the proper chance to prove himself because of a leg injury he suffered in the 2020 spring alternate season. He also missed half of last season because of the wound.
“He is a kid that was vying for the starting spot back when Gage was a junior,” Matthys said. “Leon’s the man right now. But we’ve got two to three different tailbacks and two to three different fullbacks. I feel like we’re really deep.”
Gunner Boegli, the team’s leading receiver with 483 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, is one of the few offensive standouts returning for the 2022 season.
“He’s really worked hard this summer,” Matthys said. “He’s an even better player than he was last season, and not just with catching the ball, but from a physical standpoint.”
While the Cardinals offense averaged over 40 points per game last season, the defense did its job as well, only allowing around nine points per game, with the 35-point playoff loss to Belleville skewing the numbers.
Take that game out of the equation, and they only allowed an average of six points per game.
And while the offense lost a lot of key playmakers, many of the team’s top defenders return.
Linebacker Sean Huffman, defensive back Aiden Vondra and defensive lineman Austin Moe, who was on the 2021 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Region Team, are all seniors Matthys predicts will make a big impact this year.
“Those guys have probably stood out the most just as leaders on the defense,” he said. “The one nice thing with this team is that we’ve got seven all-conference players back, so we’ve got enough experience. With all that experience, we can do a lot of different things on defense.”
The Cardinals open up the season at home against Edgerton on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
Matthys said the team has three primarily goals as it heads into what will surely be another exciting season.
“Our first goal is we want to go and win our non-conference games,” he said. “That’s our focus right now. And then obviously another goal is, and I think every team in the conference would say it is also theirs, is to win the conference. And we want to take another step in the playoffs, we want to move on past level three. We want to take the next step and try to get a little closer to Camp Randall.”