MIDDLEFIELD—The 2017 football season didn’t go quite the way the Cardinal Huskies hoped it would, but a dominating 54-7 win over rival Berkshire on Friday sent the squad into the offseason on a positive note.
The Huskies forced nine turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns in the win.
“We had a great week of practice and our kids were ready to play, probably on Tuesday,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “I think it was a matter of the team actually peaking. I wish we had three or four more games. Obviously, we didn’t make the playoffs but we’d be going into another game in pretty good shape, no matter who we were playing.”
Cardinal closed out the regular season with a 4-6 record but the Huskies reclaimed the Kinsman Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the Berkshire-Cardinal rivalry game, for the first time since 2014.
Luke Timas, who returned the opening kickoff to the 50-yard line, capped Cardinal’s first offensive drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. Cam Klepper’s extra point gave the Huskies an early 7-0 lead.
Tyson St. Clair then picked off a Berkshire pass and Trey Shirkey scored on a 5-yard run to push the lead to 14-0.
The Huskies’ defense then scored back-to-back touchdowns when Hayden Cummins picked off a pass and returned it 17 yards for a score and Robbie Muhl scooped up a Berkshire fumble and bolted 24 yards into the end zone to give the Huskies a 28-0 lead with four minutes left in the opening quarter.
“The kids were in the right place at the right time and they were aggressive and playing hard and fundamental,” Cardinal said of his defense. “They were prepared well enough that they were putting their ears back and playing rather than thinking of what they were doing. I give credit to Jimmy (Soltis). He’s our defensive coordinator and we worked hard on our defensive game plan that we thought would stop their run, because they like to run, and maybe make them pass. The only thing they ran with effectiveness I thought was that toss sweep. They run that very well, but it wasn’t enough to actually hurt us.”
Matt Carney and Klepper both scored touchdowns in the second quarter to increase the Cardinal lead to 41-0 before the Badgers finally found the end zone, aided by a Cardinal personal foul penalty.
“I thought when we had this penalty down here, which was uncalled for on our part, momentarily we kind of hung our heads and gave them just a ray of momentum and they took it and scored,” Cardinal said. “To our credit, we came back and regained our momentum and slammed the door.”
Sinclair caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Carney on a fourth-and-long situation in the third quarter and Michael Lucarelli added a 4-yard touchdown run later in the period to close out the scoring.
Cardinal recorded six interceptions and recovered three fumbles in the game.
The Huskies closed out the season with back-to-back wins over Richmond Heights and Berkshire. Cardinal fell short at Hawken, 14-12, in Week 7.
“I think we improved over the course of the season,” Cardinal said. “We played a good game at Hawken and it was one of those games we didn’t win that we thought we could have won and probably should have won; we just didn’t execute when we had to. We came back and played a good game against a pretty talented team last week and scored a lot of points. We’re hitting on all cylinders. I thought our second half was better than our first half and we made a lot of progress and you can see it.”