Sun Prairie Survives Middleton
Captures Outright Big Eight Title
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Homecoming can be a week full of distractions. Pep rallies, themed costume days and the absolute terror of asking that special someone to the big dance can take attention away from the actual game.
But all of those outside factors had no impact on the Sun Prairie Cardinals Friday night as the defending Big Eight champions captured yet another conference title with a 21-14 victory over rival Middleton.
“We knew this was going to be a big one coming in and all with homecoming and the title on the line against our rival Middleton,” Ryan Curran said. “We knew we had to come out and give it everything we had cause that is a darn good team over there and we knew they would give us a couple punches, but it just feels great to come out with a win.”
Wide receiver Tripp Soma and quarterback Ryan Curran connected for the games first touchdown on Sun Prairie’s opening possession on a 21-yard connection which set the tone for the rest of the game.
“I thought it was huge that we were able to start off the game with a touchdown,” Soma said. “Middleton is always the biggest game of the year really so when you add in the fact it was homecoming and that the title was on the line we just knew that there would be a huge crowd and that touchdown really got everyone into it and set us up for the rest of the game.”
Soma, who finished the game with eight catches for 166 yards, had a number of impact plays that keyed the Cardinal victory, but teammate Luke Kiefer did his part to ensure a Sun Prairie win as well on defense.
Kiefer finished the game with four tackles and two interceptions that both came deep inside Sun Prairie territory as Middleton was threatening.
Charles Braxton reached the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run for Middleton to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the second quarter, but a 12-yard touchdown run by Faizon Thomas with two minutes remaining in the second quarter sent Sun Prairie into the half with a 14-7 advantage.
“We knew the second half was going to be a slugfest so it was very important we got out to a quick start and maintained a lead,” Coach Brian Kaminski said. “Every time we play these guys it is always like this. We have a ton of respect for those guys and it always seems to be back and forth and back and forth, I was very pleased with how our guys played tonight.”
The outcome of Friday’s game could have been completely different if it were not for the turnover battle, Middleton was minus five in that category, and a critical penalty on Middleton’s opening drive out of the half.
Demond Hill caught an 80-yard touchdown throw from Kasey Miller but an illegal block in the back was called on another wide receiver downfield and the potentially contest shifting score was called back. Middleton took over at the 50-yard line but then punted three downs later.
Sun Prairie continued to hold a 14-7 advantage after three quarters but quickly extended the lead in the fourth.
Middleton went for a fourth and two play on Sun Prairie’s 27-yard line but the Miller pass fell incomplete and Sun Prairie took over on downs.
A holding penalty on Sun Prairie’s first play set up a first-down and 20 yards to go that no one will forget.
Curran escaped from a Middleton blitz and found Soma on a 38-yard pass completion that Soma then made sensation. The Sun Prairie wide receiver then pulled an unscripted hook-and-ladder play to fellow receiver Fredrick Bobo who ran for an additional 12 yards down to the Middleton 33-yard line.
A few plays later Sun Prairie found the end zone for the third and final time as Curran took a quarterback sneak for a one-yard touchdown run.
Middleton did however score two possessions later off of a Alex Leahy 19-yard touchdown reception but could never establish a lead, let alone even the score.
With under two minutes to go, Middleton had one more chance to tie the game, but Luke Schafer fumbled on the punt return and Sun Prairie recovered. A couple of kneel downs later, the Sun Prairie Cardinals were Big Eight Champions.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guy’s, we’ve faced a lot of adversity every week and it seems like we are always fighting off another top team for the conference championship,” Kaminski said. “But let’s not go ahead and say we’re the champs just yet. We’ve got two games to go and a lot to work on and perfect so I’m not calling us the champs just yet.”
Despite coach Kaminski’s classic “coach speak” and reluctancy to acknowledge his team as the Big Eight champions just yet, Sun Prairie has essentially earned that title.
The Cardinals hold a tie-breaker win over Madison La Follette if both teams finish the season 8-1, and both Madison Memorial and Middleton have already suffered two losses this season.
Sun Prairie will close out the year with games against Janesville Parker and Madison East.
**Interesting note: At halftime of Friday’s game, the Sun Prairie baseball team was honored and received their state championship rings. The back-to-back state champions have gone 48-3 over the past two seasons and will look to three-peat this upcoming season with a number of players returning. Ryan Curran, Michael Garvey, Michael Marchese and Tripp Soma are all football players that received their rings after the game Friday.
When asked about his homecoming date, Soma responded, “Oh I don’t have one. My date is going to be my state championship ring and I know it’s going to look good. I’m going solo.”
By:Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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