Kado sprints to the goal line. Photo by Jon Tanberg
Kado sprints to the goal line. Photo by Jon Tanberg

SPRING VALLEY, WI - Every season in Spring Valley for the past five years starts with the same goals, qualify for the playoffs, compete for the conference title, make a run in the post-season.

The Cardinals qualified for the post-season a few weeks ago.

They get the opportunity to compete for the conference title tomorrow as they face Elk Mound as the only two teams left in the conference vying for the title with undefeated conference records, 5-0.

The Cardinals, ranked third in the state in division six, held on in a tough, knock-down, drag-out battle with the Glenwood City Hilltoppers that was closer than the 30-8 final score. The win improved the Cardinals to 8-0 on the season, 5-0 in conference play, and eliminated the Hilltoppers from the post-season.

“We knew they were going to come out hard and fast,” said Head Coach Ryan Kapping of the Hilltoppers efforts early on. “They wanted to establish their offense early on and we knew they have some speed and needed to try to contain them.”

The Cardinals took their first drive of the game down the field and scored on a keeper by sophomore quarterback Aaron Borgerding from the eight yard line. Tyson Kado’s kick gave Valley an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Glenwood responded on the next drive when senior running back Jake Kopacz broke through the line and hit the outside for a 49-yard touchdown run. The two-point pass from quarterback Pete Hill to Dan Loring was good and Glenwood City led 8-7 with 6:20 left in the first quarter.

The Cardinals buckled down on their next possession and drove right down the field, capitalized by senior Jayden Nyeggen’s 40-yard run right up the middle of the defense with 3:19 left in the first quarter. Borgerding’s pass to Kado gave the Cardinals a 15-8 lead. From that point forward, the Cardinals got turnovers, stops and breaks when they needed them the rest of the game.

Borgerding connected with sophomore Brendan Williams on a 16-yard touchdown pass with just 45 seconds left in the first half, and the two-point pass to Williams gave Valley a 23-8 lead going into the locker room for halftime.

The second half was more defensive battle with turnovers slowing down the Toppers. Valley added one more touchdown late in the game on an interception return for touchdown by Kado with five minutes left in the game to make it 30-8.

Hill had been one of the D-SC’s top passers this season, but not on this night. The senior was just 3-of-14 passing for 52 yards with four interceptions, two of them by his counterpart for the Cardinals. Borgerding completed 1-of-6 passes for 16-yards and one touchdown with one interception, which was deflected.

Valley was led in rushing by Nyeggen, who had 32 carries for 160 yards on the game. Kopacz led the Toppers with 13 carries for 89 yards. Valley racked up 297 yards of total offense, and took advantage of eight Hilltopper turnovers in the game. The Cardinals controlled the clock with 32 minutes of offense to just 16 for Glenwood City.

Defensively, it was a complete team effort.

“We had a lot of guys step up and make plays tonight,” Kapping said. “We told the kids they needed to attack them and take away space for them to create offensively, and I thought we did a good job of that all night long. The boys put our game plan into action like we wanted to and minimized their big plays.”

Now comes the showdown with Elk Mound. The Mounders are 6-2 after starting the season 0-2, and have one of the best rushing attacks in the state in Brady Redwine, who is second in the state in yards and touchdowns (1,684 yards, 27 touchdowns).

“Elk Mound is the favorite, they are leading the state in rushing, they were picked to win the conference, we were picked to finish fifth this year so we don’t have that pressure on us,” Kapping said.

Regardless, the Cardinals will give it everything they have to finish off the regular season and prepare for the playoffs.