Despite the loss of 17 seniors from a memorable 2018 campaign, the Redwood Valley football team should once again be in position to compete for a Section 3AA crown as they kick off the regular season Thursday, Aug. 29 in New Ulm.

The Cardinals are coming off of an historic 2018 season that saw them go 10-1 on the way to the Section 3AA crown.

The Cardinals would tie a school record with five shutouts and reached the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade, falling 20-12 to Minneapolis North in an ice bowl game that won’t be soon forgotten.

Head Coach Matt Lundeen – entering his 21st season as the head of the program – will have some holes to fill.

Most notably the loss of Mr. Football finalist Cole Woodford who hauled in 42 catches for 738 yards and nine touchdowns and added eight interceptions as a defensive back.

Also gone are starting quarterback Alex Louwagie (1,199 yards and 14 TDs), running backs Logan Prouty (508 yards), Omar Arredondo and Matthew Muetzel (four TDs) and standout offensive/defensive lineman Corbin Wabasha.

That said, the Cards return a pair of bigmen in seniors Kaleb Haase and Chad Maddock. That duo should provide an anchor on the offensive line as well as a disruptive force on the defensive line.

Senior Adam Bommersbach is back bigger and stronger after a nice junior campaign that saw him rush for 704 yards (6.5 ypc) and five touchdowns.

Senior Bryant Haas and sophomore Alex Lang give the Cards athleticism at the quarterback back spot, with Haas seeing playing time a season ago and Lang seeing action on defense as just a freshman.

Senior Carter Guetter (267 yards receiving and 77 yards rushing to go along with three TDs) and junior Connor Josephson give the Cards athleticism at wingback, and look for senior Jordan Mertens to get a good look at wide receiver.

Sophomore Carson Woodford is an athletic, tall wing who should get a chance to make plays along with junior Andrew Stephens (WR), senior Luke Grannes (WB), sophomore Maverick Goblirsch (RB), junior Jaxon Lang (RB) and junior Carter Johnson (RB).

On the offensive line, the Cards should have some competition with guys like seniors Holden Runck, Andy Fischer, Jed Hansen, Elias Friese, Ahmed Azzab and Jeremiah Lothert.

Juniors Chase Schablin, Bo Evans, Matthew Prouty, Brayden Reynolds and Easton Quast also will battle for spots on the line.

The Cardinals will head to battle with a roster of 14 seniors and 16 freshman but just 10 juniors and nine sophomores as the numbers are down.

The Cards first round opponent tonight – the New Ulm Eagles – went 0-9 a year ago as a Class 4A school with just over 25 kids out for football. This year that number has jumped to 40 but is well below the average for a 4A school.

Redwood Valley has an interesting schedule with three straight non-conference opponents to start the season in New Ulm, Martin County West (Sept. 6 at home) and at LeSueur/Henderson (Sept. 13).

The defending South Central (White) District champion Cards will host rivals JCC (Sept. 20) and Pipestone Area (Oct. 4) and host Blue Earth Area in the annual MEA game Oct. 16.

The Section 3AA field has shrunk to just six teams, so the Cardinals should once again have a fairly easy path to the Section 3AA title game – a game they’ve competed in for four straight years.