Redwood Valley records first ever 10-0 start thanks to player development

A year ago the Cardinals’ season ended in heartbreak, a 20-17 overtime loss to the rival Pipestone Area Arrows. It was a tough loss – the third straight Section 3AA title game loss for Coach Matt Lundeen – and it also signified the end of the road for standouts like quarterback Mitch Irlbeck and running back/linebacker Logan Josephson who were lost to graduation.  Still, Lundeen entered the 2018 campaign with optimism.

“I felt going into the season that we had good players but that we were going to be unique from year’s past,” he said. “For the first time probably in my tenure we were going to have our strength be up front with our lineman. We really felt we would be able to go into games and control both lines of scrimmage.”

The Cardinals – who have generally been outsized by conference foes JCC, Pipestone Area and Luverne for years – came into the season with some great athleticism and size up front with guys like Corbin Wabasha, Chad Maddock and Kaleb Haase. The trio has been a force on the offensive line and wreak havoc on the defensive line.

“They’re big, fast and talented,” Lundeen said. “They can do it all.”

The development of Michael Mace and Zach Josephson was key as well to close out a solid front five.

Standout wide receiver Cole Woodford – arguably the most talented player in the district – also returned and has been a huge factor in the Cardinals success this season. Woodford – a three-sport standout who will play basketball next season for Jamestown College – threw for two scores, caught another and had 175 yards receiving in the win over Pipestone Area. He also leads the team in interceptions with nine.

“Cole is one of the best athletes to play for Redwood Valley,” Lundeen said. “He can do it all, and he shows up at most critical times. I mean how many times has he got us going when we needed a spark?”

The Cards replaced Josephson with workhorses Logan Prouty and Adam Bommersbach at running back, and both have been efficient at moving the chains. The duo is also a strong tandem at linebacker for the Cards.

Matthew Muetzel has embraced his role on both offense and defense, scoring touchdowns while also being disruptive as a defensive end. His punting skills are also underappreciated, as he is able to flip the field with a 50-yard punt.

Senior Alex Louwagie has come in and done an admirable job under center replacing a three-year starter in Irlbeck.

Kyle Huhnerkoch, Omar Arredondo, Tayte Harazin, Brennan Sander and junior Carter Guetter have all stepped up this season. A strong sophomore class has been key as well, as guys like Carter Johnson, Connor Josephson, Jaxon Lang and others have all found a way to contribute.

As the wins started to pile up, good road wins over Waterville/Elysian-Morristown, Luverne and Jackson and an overtime home win over the Arrows, the team really started to believe.

“We learned how to play through some adversity early on, and it’s just turned into a really special group,” Lundeen said.