TIPTON, Mo. — Though Tipton and North Callaway have met regularly for some time, tonight will still bring a unique challenge for the Cardinals.
In Class 1, Tipton is used to playing opponents like itself — run-oriented teams. However, the Thunderbirds run a pass-heavy, spread attack and Cardinals head coach Tony Braby knows his team will have its work cut out if it wants to right the ship following a 30-6 loss last week at St. Paul Lutheran.
"We're going to make some changes and I think that will help for this week," Braby said. "It's always a very competitive game against North Callaway.
"With what we've seen so far on film, we match up really well. I think it could go either way."
The Cardinals and Thunderbirds have been in their share of tight contests through the years. Last season, it was a defensive struggle for much of the game before North Callaway pulled away en route to a 22-8 win.
Coming into the season, Braby fully expected some struggles on the offensive line. With an inexperienced quarterback in sophomore Dalton Weaver also still getting varsity experience, there's pressure on the line to come together quickly.
"The three seniors on the line played a very good game," Braby said. "The two sophomores had some growing pains. They started out well, and as the game went on, they kind of reverted to playing less than their potential was.
"They've got to get used to playing as hard in the second, third and fourth quarter as they do in the first."
In the backfield, Tipton will feature a heavy dose of Dakota Pace. After not playing football last year, Pace was the Cardinals' top player in Week 1, leading the team in both rushing yards and tackles.
"(Dakota) was just all over the place on defense and ran the ball extremely hard on offense," Braby said. "Basically this was his first varsity football game and he really put on a show."
While Pace is the top skill player for Tipton, North Callaway has plenty of talent in that area as well, despite falling 48-20 to Southern Boone last week.
Quarterback Milo Henry is a senior and he'll look for wideouts Austin Edwards and Dawson Wright. Both had touchdown catches in last week's loss to the Eagles.
Tipton will also have to try and slow down Thunderbirds running back Adam Reno, who had a 72-yard touchdown run against Southern Boone.
Up against a significantly larger program in North Callaway, Braby and the Cardinals know they'll need to find an extra gear if they want to keep things close.
That was something they were unable to do last week in the game against St. Paul Lutheran.
"The energy was good until we got down by a couple touchdowns," Braby said. "We had a lot of kids fighting cramps. It was very hot and humid and we lost a lot of fluids.
"We're hoping that we've learned that lesson to stay a little more hydrated throughout the day and even throughout the week."
The Cardinals haven't beaten the Thunderbirds since 2012.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Tipton.