Cards face unbeaten Storm
The Kewaunee High School football team is tired of being the bridesmaid.
Kewaunee (13-0) faces Rock Valley South runner-up Brodhead/Juda (11-2) for the WIAA Division 4 state title at 7 p.m. Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The Storm—the school’s new nickname—is 0-4 in state championship games, with three of those losses in the last four years, and is going after the Cardinals with the intention of ending the frustrating trend.
Ironically, Kewaunee lost the Division 4 title game last season, 42-13, to Walworth Big Foot, the Rock Valley rival Brodhead/Juda just defeated, 32-14, to earn its first state berth since 2003.
“The major focus has been for the guys to get back (to state) and redeem themselves,” Kewaunee coach Kurt Flaten said.
Cardinals coach Jim Matthys knows the Storm is coming, but he’s confident his team can weather it.
“We feel we have every opportunity to win,” Matthys said. “They have some experience our team doesn’t have, but it’s the state championship game, and like every playoff game, it comes down to desire. Don’t write our guys off, because anything can happen.’’
Kewaunee returned 14 starters this season and finished No. 1 in the AP state ratings for medium-sized schools.
“We have a few seniors back that played big roles,” Flaten said.
Flaten said the Storm’s significant gain this season has been on defense.
“The defense really picked it up from last year,” Flaten said. “On that side of the ball, we had the most guys to replace.’’
The Storm held Baldwin-Woodville to 3-of-14 on third-down conversions en route to a 21-13 semifinal victory last Saturday. Baldwin-Woodville held a 12-minute advantage in time of possession and ran 21 more plays, but the Blackhawks couldn’t do a lot with their 238 yards of offense.
While Flaten said the Storm’s defense made significant gains over last season’s effort, the Kewaunee offense has been on its game as usual.
“We are pleased that we have done a lot of good things on offense,” Flaten said. “We like what our offense can do.’’
The Storm relies on three-year starting senior quarterback Doug Delebreau.
Delebreau is starting his second title game, and Flaten hopes his quarterback’s experience will count for a lot.
“We feel good about him,” Flaten said. “He has a ton of experience and has really grown as a leader. He has what you look for in a quarterback.’’
Flaten said the Storm likes to open up its pro-set offense.
“We don’t mind chucking the ball down the field a little bit,” Flaten said. “We look for some big plays.”
The Kewaunee passing game has averaged 181 yards and 20 yards per reception this season.
Matthys knows Kewaunee can do more than pass.
“Kewaunee has a balance between the pass and run,” Matthys said. “They are a talented team, with a great quarterback.”
Likewise, Flaten is mindful of Brodhead/Juda’s running game that features two 1,000-yard plus running backs in Jesse Delorme and Alex Wallace, who complement junior quarterback David Earleywine’s 1,359 yards passing.
“Brodhead/Juda is a solid team,” Flaten said. “I’m sure they want to win as badly as we do.’’