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story.lead_photo.caption Dylan Kuttenkuler of Tipton closes in on a North Callaway player during last week's game in Kingdom City. Photo by Amy Craghead

TIPTON — The Tipton Cardinals are looking to snap their three-game losing streak as they prepare to take on the Slater Wildcats.

Tonight's kickoff in Slater has been moved up to a 5 p.m. start due to the threat of severe weather.

Tipton (1-3) is coming off a 45-6 loss to Knob Noster, which is receiving votes in Class 2 in this week's Missouri Media Rankings. Austin Pace returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the Cardinals' only score.

Tipton coach Tony Braby said last week the Cardinals just ran into a tough team in Knob Noster.

"We just had our hands full against a very good football team," he said.

Slater (4-0) is coming off of a 35-16 win against Midway.

It's the second straight season the Wildcats have opened with four consecutive wins. However, last year's win streak was followed by four consecutive losses, starting with a 38-14 defeat to the Cardinals.

Braby said Tipton is looking forward to playing a team that is a little bit more their size. The Cardinals faced Class 2 opponents in two of their past three games.

"We have been playing a pretty good, tough schedule with North Callaway, Knob Noster, and Windsor, who was also undefeated at the time," Braby said. "So looking forward to righting the ship and making a game of it."

Braby said Tipton knows from last year Slater has an outstanding quarterback in senior Keegan Zdybel, and the Cardinals will have to try to contain him. Zdybel accounted for more than 250 yards of offense last Friday against Midway.

"He is a very good athlete that can throw the ball and run the ball," Braby said. "I mean, with him being such a good athlete, you are not going to just shut him down completely. But if we can kind of get him off his game and get some pressure put on him.

"He likes to run the ball, likes to throw the ball and they are really playing well right now. We are just going to have to play really good defense, and our secondary is going to have to do a good job of pass coverage."

Zdybel also shines on Slater's defense. Last Friday, he returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown.

Slater began the season with wins against Santa Fe (41-0), Polo (38-20) and Missouri Military Academy (48-0). The Wildcats are averaging 40.5 points per game while yielding an average of just 9 points.

Tipton's offense has struggled in the last couple of weeks. Braby said that's due to their tough opponents and the team's own mistakes.

"We are having some turnover issues but when you play good competition they kind of have a hand in helping create that," he said. "There are times where we really look good; we just have to do a better job of tackling and we were letting Knob Noster have some very good runs up the middle. It is what it is, and I am hoping that down the road it will make us a stronger football team."

Right now, the Cardinals are in a similar position to where they were last year. In 2018, Tipton was also 1-3 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak entering the game against Slater.

"We don't want to look at this as a big negative of 'Here we go again,'" Braby said. "We want to look at as hey it is only going to make us stronger. The coaching staff has to keep the players positive and grow from our mistakes and get better as we go along."

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