Countdown to kickoff: Stillman Valley ‘we still have that chip on our shoulder’ after second-round playoff exit

The Cardinals are looking for back-to-back conference titles before entering the postseason.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 10:39 PM CDT
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STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WIFR) - On paper, Stillman Valley’s 2022 season was quite successful. The team finished atop the BNC with an 8-1 record and made another trip to the postseason. But when talking to the team ahead of their 2023 campaign, they see more to accomplish.

“We still have that chip on our shoulder of getting stopped in the second round feeling like we should have been better,” senior CB/RB Keaton Rauman said.

The Cardinals would earn a first-round playoff win against Monmouth-Roseville before falling in the second round to eventual state champion IC Catholic.

“The senior group for sure this year we’re very motivated to get past that hump we’ve been stuck in,” Rauman said.

The past four postseasons have seen Stillman Valley bounced in the second round. This year’s group has confidence they’ll be ready to go as they ramp up for the season.

“I don’t believe there’s much challenges,” senior LB/FB Johnny Deklerk said, “I believe we’re all ready to play good, we’re all ready for it, I think we’ve all been ready.”

Although head coach Mike Lalor, who enters his 26th year at the helm for Sitllman, is still putting the specifics together on how the new group will look.

“Sometimes I feel like I have ideas of how things are going to go,” Lalor said. “But until you get out there in front of the crowds and the lights and the pads start popping then you don’t really know.”

“We’ve tried to develop a program here where seniors predominantly lead things and so on and when you do that sometimes you don’t have as many lower-level guys playing in front,” Lalor added.