The Chadron Cardinals will try to wrap up the Class C1-8 District football championship and nail down a home field berth during the first round of the state playoffs Friday night when they visit the Chase County Longhorns at Imperial. Kickoff for the regular-season finale will be at 6.
The Cardinals are 7-1 for the season and have defeated the remaining three district teams—Ogallala, Gordon-Rushville and Mitchell. Chase County is 5-3 with wins over Broken Bow, Kimball, Gordon-Rushville, Mitchell and Minden and losses to Cozad, Gothenburg and Ogallala.
The Longhorns won last year’s game in Chadron 21-20 when midway in the fourth quarter sophomore Braden Space found a bit of space in the Chadron offensive front and blocked the placekick that would have tied the score. It’s the only time Chase County has defeated the Cards since they began playing one another in 2012.
In 2015, the Cards won 19-13 in overtime at Imperial to hand the Longhorns their only loss of the regular season. Brendinh Sayaloune, who intercepted three passes and caught a long one to set up the touchdown that tied the score in the fourth quarter, was among the Red Birds’ ringleaders.
This year’s Chase County team includes senior lineman Aaron “Eli” Hinojosa, an all-state candidate and an outstanding wrestler. He’s won the 220-pound championship at Chadron High’s prestigious mat tournament each of the past two years.
The Longhorns also have some weapons at the skill positions. Senior Caleb Weiss is the starting quarterback again and juniors Evan Fisher and Kadin Vrbas are capable running backs.
The Cardinals have missed the state playoffs the last two years, but prior to that had made it 15 of the previous 16 seasons dating back to 1995. The exception was 2002.