The Sun Prairie football team earned a No. 1 seed in the 2021 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 1 playoffs this season, and for good reason. The Cardinals finished the season undefeated, winning the Big Eight conference outright with an unblemished record against conference opponents. One of those conference foes comes to town Friday, Oct. 22 as the Cardinals begin their push for a state title.

No. 14 seed La Follette is up first. The Lancers barely scraped into the playoffs with a 3-4 record in conference play this season and have a 3-6 record overall. The two teams met way back in early September, the first conference game of the season. Things did not go well for La Follette.

Sun Prairie obliterated the Lancers, winning 56-19. The score indicates an even closer game than it was. At halftime, Sun Prairie was already up 49-6. The starters weren’t in for long, but they made their impact felt. Junior quarterback Jerry Kaminski was efficient and poised, completing 10 of his 12 passing attempts for 153 yards and four touchdowns.

His favorite receiver on the day was senior John Vandewalle, who hauled in two passes for 57 yards and a score. Senior Davis Hamilton was productive as well, turning two catches into 39 yards and a score.

While La Follette was completely overmatched, there were bright spots. Quarterback Kamarion James-Ragland is a serious threat. While he didn’t put up anything ridiculous against a daunting Sun Prairie defense, there were flashes of his potential to be great.

The Lancers got better as the season went on, too. James-Ragland continually put up impressive numbers against Big Eight opponents, as did running back Makhi Jackson. For the regular season, James-Ragland completed 50% of his passes for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Jackson carried 114 times for 494 yards and six scores.

A game against a team they have already beaten handily may be just what the Cardinals need to get back on track. In the last two games of the regular season against Middleton and Verona, Sun Prairie won by just a combined eight points.

Things were particularly dicey against Verona in the final game of the regular season. Sun Prairie needed overtime to beat the Wildcats. The perfect season was preserved by the leg of junior kicker Trevor Schulz, who kicked the game-tying and game-winning field goals. If the Cardinals thought facing Verona once was tough, they had really get their act together this week.

The winner of Sun Prairie/La Follette will advance to face the winner of No. 4 Fond du Lac/No. 5 Verona. If the Wildcats pull off the first-round victory, Sun Prairie will be looking at a rematch of its toughest game this season. But, first things first, the Cardinals have to take care of business at home against La Follette Friday, Oct. 22.

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