?Nyeggen scores. Photo by Jon Tanberg
?Nyeggen scores. Photo by Jon Tanberg

ELK MOUND, WI - The regular season came to a close last Friday night with the Cardinals perfect regular season record now blemished.

Regardless of that loss, Spring Valley still had a great regular season, 8-1 overall record and 5-1 in conference play, to earn a #2 seed in the WIAA playoff bracket in Division 6 and the opportunity to host Whitehall (the #7 seed with a 5-4 overall record and 4-2 record in the Dairyland Conference). The Cardinals will host Whitehall on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. and fans need to remember there is a fee to get into the game per WIAA rules.

Elk Mound, the preseason favorite to win the conference and the largest school in the conference, and the Spring Valley Cardinals, one of the smallest schools in the conference and picked to finish fifth, both came into the game undefeated in conference play, so it was the D-SC title on the line.

In the end, Elk Mound had just a little too much for the Cardinals, but just barely.

The Mounders have one of the top rushers in the state in senior Brady Redwine, who has been running rampant against teams all season long. They also have large linemen that can open up holes for Redwine to average 9.25 yards per carry.

The Cardinals defense is pretty stout though too, and while Redwine rushed for 205 yards on the night, he also needed 47 carries to do it, for an average of 4.4 yards per carry, almost five yards less per carry than his season average.

“He’s a good, hard runner,” said Head Coach Ryan Kapping. “When you give someone the ball that many times they are going to get yards. I thought our kids played really well in limiting his runs to nothing big.”

The Cardinals had their own runner that earned his yards too. Senior Jayden Nyeggen carried the ball 22 times for 114 yards on the game.

The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove down the field, most of the way on a 60-yard run by Nyeggen. The drive was capped off when sophomore quarterback Aaron Borgerding scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper less than two minutes into the game. The extra point kick was no good, but Valley led 6-0 early on.

Elk Mound responded, on their next drive, marching down the field and burning time off the clock in the process. The Mounders marched down the field until they got to the 22-yard line where the Cardinals held firm, forcing Elk Mound to kick a field goal with 2:16 left in the first quarter to cut the lead down to 6-3 for Valley.

The lone mistake of the game came on the Cardinals next possession when Borgerding threw an interception, it was the lone turnover of the game. Four minutes later Redwine got his first of two touchdowns on a 16-yard crashing run to the end zone. The kick gave Elk Mound a 10-6 lead with 10:47 left in the second quarter.

Nyeggen scored just more than three minutes later to give the lead back to Valley on a four-yard run. The score put Valley ahead 12-10 with 7:30 left before halftime.

It looked like the two teams were going to go into the half with that same score, but Elk Mound was able to get a long throw down to the two-yard line with just 13 seconds left before halftime. One play later, with 10 seconds left on the clock, William Muzynzki got in the end zone from the one yard line to give the Mounders a 16-12 lead.

Redwine opened the second half of the game with a nine-yard touchdown run halfway through the third quarter to give the Mounders a 24-12 lead.

Borgerding closed the gap to just four points four minutes later on a great 29-yard keeper that had the entire defense fooled. The two-point pass to junior Dylan Bosshart closed the gap to four points with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was just a defensive battle that saw Elk Mound control the ball most of the time to finish off the game. Valley had chances, but just couldn’t get the right play at the right time to retake the lead.

The Mounders finished the game with 298 yards to the Cardinals 189 offensively. Borgerding was 2-of-9 passing with the one interception for 33 yards while the Mounders’ Dylan Black was 3-for-4 for 45 yards.

Next up for the Cardinals is Whitehall, a team that passes for more yards than running (186 passing to 68 rushing per game).

“We are in the playoffs now and our focus is getting from one week to the next, one game at a time,” Kapping said. “Our sole focus is Whitehall right now. If we aren’t focused on that, nothing else matters.”

Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. on Friday night.