Spring Valley’s 45-8 homecoming victory over the Glenwood City Hilltoppers was decided in the first quarter.
The Cardinals (5-0 overall, 2-0 Dunn-St. Croix Conference play) had racked up a 28-0 lead with 16 seconds left in the first quarter of their Friday, Sept. 20 game after senior Brenden Williams ran in a 70-yard punt return. They had scored four fewer points in 11 minutes, 44 seconds than the Hilltoppers (0-5, 0-3) had during the first four weeks of the season.
“Compete against ourselves,” Spring Valley’s co-captain quarterback Aaron Borgerding yelled to the sideline after completing his fourth extra point of the night.
Competing against themselves is what the Cardinals have had to do for the first half of the 2019 football season.
The Cardinals are averaging 40.2 points per game while holding their opponents to 10.2 points per game on average. Their closest game came in Week 1 when they defeated Unity 28-21, but since then, no opponent has gotten within 20 points of the Cardinals.
How have the Cardinals been able to hold themselves to a higher standard even when their opponents don’t always challenge them the way they need to be challenged?
“We just want to get better every week,” co-captain Travis Marty said. “That’s the best way to put it.”
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” co-captain Nate Fesenmaier, who led the Cardinals with 68 rushing yards, said. “We’re always getting better.”
That hasn’t been a problem for Spring Valley after the first five weeks of the season. The Cardinals’ respect for one another has allowed them to hold each other accountable.
“I don’t really think it’s been tough for us,” Borgerding said. “We care so much about each other that we’re willing to push each other to that higher level.”
“This group is one of the best groups we’ve ever had in terms of showing up for every game,” the Cardinals’ head coach Ryan Kapping said. “There are some moments where we’re up and down focus and energy-wise, but for the most part, it’s a really good group as far as coming and working every day and not having to get after them to do something.”
The Cardinals used a 31-yard keeper from Borgerding to strike first at the 8:24 mark of the first quarter then heard from the senior quarterback again when he found Williams for a 50-yard touchdown reception less than three minutes later.
Spring Valley took over at the Hilltoppers’ 30-yard line when Brayden Wolf recorded the Cardinals’ first of three turnovers on the night and allowed for a five-play drive that ended with Borgerding’s second keeper touchdown of the night.
The Cardinals had what Borgerding described as a “shaky” third quarter that began with Carter Deppa running back an 87-yard kick return and ended with the Cardinals allowing the Hilltoppers to score on their first drive of the second half. However, the Cardinals finished the game by holding Glenwood City scoreless in the final 18 and a half minutes of play thanks to an interception from Connor Ducklow and by stuffing the Hilltoppers on fourth-and-one.
“I thought, for the most part, we did really well, but at times we just need the energy to stay up,” Fesenmaier said. “We have to play our own ball and not theirs.”
That will remain true in Week 6 when the Cardinals host the Boyceville Bulldogs (2-3, 1-2) who dropped a 20-point loss to Colfax on Friday. After Week 6, the Cardinals will face the Elk Mound Mounders (3-2, 2-1) and Mondovi Buffaloes (5-0, 2-0) — their two toughest DSC opponents — on the road.
“We can’t just focus on the Mondovis and the Elk Mounds,” Fesenmaier said. “We have to focus on who we’re playing each week.”
Elmwood/Plum City 0, Turtle Lake 54
The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves (1-4) will look to get back on track against Lake Holcombe/Cornell (3-2) next week after dropping four straight games.
Prescott 7, Somerset 40
The Prescott Cardinals (1-4) travel to New Richmond (3-2) on Friday, Sept. 27.
Ellsworth 40, Amery 0
The Ellsworth Panthers (3-1) host Somerset (2-3) next Friday.