At times this season it wasn’t pretty, but the Redwood Valley Cardinals made a strong showing in the postseason nearly upsetting two opponents to cap off the football season on a high note.
Following a 2-6 regular season, the Cardinals entered postseason play as major underdogs but stunned 7-1 St. Peter 17-14 in the Section 3AAA quarterfinals.
In the semifinals they traveled to Montgomery and fell behind 20-0 to Tri-City United in the first six minutes of play. The resilient Cards would battle back to cut the lead to 20-17 in the third quarter and had a chance to win before ultimately falling 27-17.
It was a gutty effort by the Cardinal seniors and an encouraging one for the underclassmen heading into 2013.
“We had a great group of seniors who battled all season long,” Coach Matt Lundeen said. “I was happy for them to get that St. Peter game.”
Statistically the Cardinals were outplayed, but seniors Alec Koster and Braydin Kvistero put up solid numbers to lead the Cardinal offense and defense.
Koster completed 169-of-312 pass attempts for 2,068 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as the Cardinal offense was moved almost exclusively through the air.
He also had 110 rushes for 101 yards and 10 touchdowns, as the Cards managed just 55 yards a game rushing.
Senior RJ Juell led the Cardinal receiving corps with 51 catches for 771 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite an early season injury to his hand, Thane Widmer finished with 36 catches for 417 yards and three touchdowns.
Austin Kretsch added 32 catches for 290 yards and three scores.
Tyler Kohout finished with 18 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns, Mitch Fischer added 14 catches for 153 yards, Jordan Lund had nine catches for 143 yards and Cade Johnson added five catches for 25 yards.
Jordan Mann led the Cardinal ground game with 56 rushes for 174 yards and a touchdown.
Fischer had 23 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown, Antonio Bryan had 23 rushes for 73 yards, Kretsch finished with 18 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns and Jacob Prouty had 17 carries for 50 yards.
Johnson added two carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, and Aiden Dirlam had two carries for 17 yards.
Koster led the team in scoring with 60 points, while Dirlam did a great job in the kicking game hitting 23-of-25 extra points, averaging 50.6 yards per kickoff and forcing eight touchbacks.
He also went 3-for-6 in field goal attempts including a long of 40 yards against JCC.
Defensively, the Cardinals were led by senior linebacker Kvistero who was in on an eye-opening 118 tackles (58 solo), had one fumble recovery and three-and-a-half tackles-for-loss.
Fabian Ortega finished with 66 tackles (32 solo) and nine tackles-for-loss, and Fischer added 56 tackles (34 solo), four-and-a-half tackles-for-loss and an interception for a touchdown. Logan Zaske finished with 52 tackles (25 solo) and a team-high 10 tackles-for-loss, Kretsch added 34 tackles (23 solo), four-and-a-half tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and a fumble recovery and Dion Sgro-Ahrens added 37 tackles (20 solo), a forced fumble and six-and-a-half tackles-for-loss.
Page 2 of 2 - Mann had 33 tackles (16 solo) and a fumble recovery, Travis Sowder added 34 tackles (14 solo) and four-and-a-half tackles-for-loss and Juell had 45 tackles (38 solo), three-and-a-half tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Koster had 17 tackles and three interceptions, and Kohout finished with 23 tackles (12 solo) and a tackle-for-loss in the secondary.
Cardinal opponents outscored Redwood Valley 26.1-19.6 on a weekly basis and averaged 307 yards of offense (231.7 rushing) compared to 243.5 yards per game for the Cards (188 passing).
The Cardinals were a solid 21-of-26 in red zone opportunities – compared to 21-of-37 for opponents – and finished minus three in the turnover department.