For the second time in as many weeks the Sun Prairie football team will say good-bye to a Big Eight Conference rivalry, facing Janesville Craig on Friday night at Ashley Field.
Last week, Sun Prairie destroyed Janesville Parker, 52-10, in the final meeting before the Vikings and Cougars move out of the Big Eight and into the Badger Conference next season.
The Cardinals struck early and often in their second-straight win, with junior linebacker Austyn Lynch returning a strip-sack for a touchdown just 87 seconds in, leading to a 45-point first half.
“We emphasized to our team coming out and setting the tone early,” said Sun Prairie head coach Brian Kaminski. “It sure makes it much easier.”
Kaminski likes where his team is at a third of the way through the season.
“I think we’re improving,” he said. “It’s something we always pride ourselves on — obviously we’d like to be 3-0 — we always feel like we’re going to get better as the season goes on. (But) even though we won by a score of 52-10, there’s still work to do and still room to get better. We hope to do that Friday night against Craig.”
For the third week in a row the Sun Prairie offense was clicking, led by junior quarterback Brady Stevens’ four touchdown passes. Through three games the southpaw has completed 30-of-56 passes for 590 yards and 10 touchdowns while only being intercepted once.
Stevens ranks second in the Big Eight in yards behind only Madison La Follette’s Ben Probst (616).
Senior wideout Colin Schaefer has team-highs in receptions (13), yards (282) and touchdowns (5).
Defensively, the Cardinals are led by junior linebackers Mekhi Gullens (16 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 sack) and Jacob Hellenbrand (13, 3, 2).
Special teams were solid as well as junior kicker Owen Konopacki went 6-for-6 on extra points while booting a 31-yard field goal. Carter Wambach also kicked an extra point.
Sun Prairie has not had a breakout game running the football as of yet. Senior Nathan Schuaer, a 1,000-yard back last season, has 222 yards and two TDs.
“He’s done a great job, he just hasn’t had a lot of carries,” said Kaminski of Schauer. “The other night we put up 52 points but we didn’t have a ton of yards because the defense gave us some short fields. We’re not worried, his numbers will be there.”
The Cougars got off to a rough start falling 16-13 to Beloit Memorial in Week 1, but then evened their record at 1-1 with a 27-7 victory over Parker in the cross-town rivalry game. Verona dealt Craig a 49-8 loss last week.
Janesville Craig is a run-first team, gaining just under 250 yards per game on the ground. They have allowed 62.7 yards through the air, but where Craig pins its ears back on is defending the run, allowing its opponents just 72.7 yards per game.
Senior quarterback Eric Hughes is the team’s main rusher, gaining 258 yards while scoring five touchdowns through the first three weeks.
“We have to take away his feet first,” said Kaminski of Hughes. “Anytime you face an option team you have to be disciplined. He’s going to try and hit some passes on us, but we’ll be ready.”
Sun Prairie has dominated the series of late, winning nine of the last two games including a 49-0 blanking last season when Craig was 3-0.
“It’s the last time we play them, so we want to make it a good one to remember,” Kaminski concluded.
Friday’s kickoff is 7 p.m.