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Cardinals-Chiefs an epic event
Ethan Douglas
BRODHEAD - Cardinals football coach Jim Matthys doesn't view the Rock Valley South clash with Walworth Big Foot as a do-or-die game.

Brodhead-Juda (6-0, 4-0 Rock Valley South), ranked third in the Division 4 Coaches Poll, enters the conference showdown with No. 1 ranked Big Foot (6-0, 4-0) with the confidence they can beat the Chiefs. The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker to Big Foot last year, 7-6, and that was with offensive lineman Travis Frederick, who is now playing at the University of Wisconsin.

"The success of our season isn't defined by one game," Matthys said. "If we do win, it definitely puts us in the driver's seat. If we don't win, our season is not over.

"Losing last year our kids knew how close we were to a conference championship and with Big Foot going to state, we are a little better team this year because of that experience."

The Brodhead-Juda offensive line has paved the way for the Cardinals to rack up a staggering average of 44.8 points per game. The Cardinals' three-headed rushing attack is led by senior Ethan Douglas, who has rushed for 761 yards (9.9 per carry), 12 touchdowns and is averaging 152.2 yards a game.

"We have definitely been waiting for this game," Douglas said. "We feel like we are a better team."

The Cardinals have three running backs who have rushed for more than 326 yards. Senior Brayden Fritsch (430 yards, eight TDs) and junior Gavin Garrett (326 yards, five TDs) have been just as dangerous to opponents as Douglas. Fritsch is averaging 12.3 yards per carry.

Big Foot is averaging 38.3 points per game and its offense is just as prolific and loaded with playmakers. Chiefs running back Mike Walker has rushed for 772 yards and nine touchdowns and is averaging 128.7 yards a game.

The Chiefs have a potent passing attack. Big Foot quarterback Steve Dowden has passed for 705 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. The team's leading receiver is Alec McGreevy, who has caught 22 passes for 289 yards and five touchdowns.

"We can't just worry about the run," Matthys said. "That's one of the things that make them better than last year. They have a balanced offense."

On defense, Big Foot has been even more impressive, giving up a stingy 6.6 a game with two shutouts. The Chiefs' closest call was a 14-7 win over Jefferson in Week 4.

Matthys and Douglas know the Cardinals' offense with sophomore quarterback David Earleywine will have to make plays in the passing game. Earleywine has completed 70 percent of his passes (21-of-30) for 396 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

"There is no doubt you have to have a balanced offense and be able to pass the ball or everyone will put eight or nine guys in the box," Matthys said. "This will be the best defense we have seen this year."

Douglas is confident the Cardinals can make big plays in the passing game when needed.

"They will definitely be preparing for the run game," Douglas said. "It's not like we can't pass the ball. We will have to if we want to win."

The Cardinals have been almost as stingy on defense and are allowing 12 points per game.

"Last year, we did a good job of pressuring the quarterback," Matthys said. "That is what we will have to do this game in order to win."