Nyeggen drives up the middle. Photo by Jon Tanberg
Nyeggen drives up the middle. Photo by Jon Tanberg

SPRING VALLEY, WI - Any time there is a cross conference game, it gives teams an opportunity to see how they will stack up against other teams in the area.

The Cardinals had the chance to put their number three ranking on the line against Altoona last Friday for homecoming here. Altoona plays in the tough Cloverbelt conference, and is also a Division Four team, so the school is considerably larger than Spring Valley. They are known for having some speedy runners, which is something the Cardinals will face over the next two weeks as their regular season wrapped up with a Pink Out game Thursday against Glenwood City, who was desperate for a win in conference play to be able to qualify for the playoffs. The Cardinals wrap up the regular season schedule at Elk Mound Friday night.

The Cardinals had one of their best offensive games of the season, wracking up 424 yards of total offense against the Railroaders in the 35-13 win.

The game was really a test of the Cardinals will. They found themselves in a dog-fight with Altoona.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Borgerding helped the Cardinals move down the field, then spotted junior Zip Bosshart streaking down the sideline with a step on the Altoona defender. Borgerding connected with Bosshart on a 32-yard pitch and catch to put the Cardinals up 7-0 with 6:53 left in the first quarter. It was Valley’s first possession of the game and with the way they marched down the field it looked like it was going to come easy to them again. But Altoona had different ideas, they buckled down defensively on Valley and the rest of the first half was just a defensive battle, neither team managing to get to the end zone.

Going into the locker room at halftime leading just 7-0, Head Coach Ryan Kapping spoke to the team about not playing it safe, about going out and getting what they wanted, taking it.

“We’ve been playing that way, a little tentative with a lead and playing back on our heels a bit,” Kapping said. “I told the boys they need to be aggressive, they have to go out and get it. We still didn’t do it right away, but we did get a little better at it. We went after it in the fourth quarter.”

And that ended up being the difference.

The Cardinals got a touchdown midway through the third quarter when Jayden Nyeggen finished off a long Cardinal drive with a one-yard dive to put Valley up 14-0. Altoona finally got a break when they connected on a long pass play from Nathan McMahon to Mitchell Adrian for a 49-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half to 14-7 with 1:12 left in the third quarter, plenty of time left in the game.

The Cardinals responded just three minutes later when Nyeggen broke through the line and outraced the speedy defensive backs from Altoona 57 yards to the house to bring the Cardinals a 20-7 lead.

The senior running back got his third touchdown of the night three minutes later on a three-yard plunge into the end zone. Bosshart raced to the corner of the end zone for the two point conversion to give the Cardinals a 28-7 lead with just seven minutes left in the game.

Altoona got another score three minutes later on another pass and catch from McMahon to Jaydon Salsbury for 33 yards to cut the lead down to 28-14. Valley had the ball and was content to just run the clock out, but Altoona kept calling time out, so Valley ran one more play to secure a first down, they got a 45-yard touchdown run by Bosshart instead to seal the game with 1:19 left on the clock.

Nyeggen led the ground game with 175 yards on the ground. Valley had 424 yards of total offense in the game with Borgerding connecting on 6-of-9 passes for 86 yards.

The Railroaders gained 255 yards of total offense with 112 on the ground and 143 through the air on 7-of-19 passing with one interception.

“I think we got a good team effort on both sides of the ball,” Kapping said. “Now we just need to focus on a tough Glenwood City team that is speedy, throws the ball a lot and is going to hit hard like they always do.”

The Cardinals are 7-0 on the season and ranked 4th in division six in the state. Currently, they are tied for first place in the D-SC with a 4-0 record, same as Elk Mound, their opponent in the final regular season game.