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story.lead_photo.caption Tipton quarterback Blake Fischer (center) looks for an open receiver during a 2018 game against North Callaway at Tipton. Photo by News Tribune

TIPTON — After finishing last season with a record of 3-7 following a 44-6 loss to Cole Camp in the first round of the Class 1 District 3 tournament, the Tipton Cardinals are set to open the 2020 season with a road game tonight at the University Academy Charter Gryphons, who were 1-9 last year.

Tipton coach Tony Braby said this year the Cardinals have added depth, as they are two players deep at the skill positions.

"Our skill players are really good," Braby said. "We are two deep at almost every skill position so that hasn't happened in a long time. If someone had to come out and I had to put a back up in we lost quite a bit. We've got guys who can catch that are coming off the sidelines, guys that have speed coming off the sidelines so I think that is going to keep us a lot fresher during the game as we try to make defenses run with us and chase us."

Thanks to the depth the team has, Braby said they are going to try to wear the defense out by making them chase their skill players.

"We don't have to take plays off we can go hard every single time and then when we put in the subs he can go hard every single time," he said. "So it is going to stretch the defense quite a bit.

On offense, Braby said the Cardinals are going to use throw the ball and roll out a good chunk of the time.

"Our main game is throwing the ball and rolling out and running a lot of sweeps to get out on the edge and use our speed so I think the defense is going to do a lot of chasing," he said.

Last year, Braby said the team struggled with its big guys upfront when it came to getting pressure on the opponents' quarterbacks.

Speed will be a key on defense, as Braby said the Cardinals want to be aggressive with their speed.

"We felt like speed is the name of the game on defense and we are going with smaller, faster kids on the interior defensive line compared to the big guys we had last year," he said.

Braby did admit using a smaller defensive line could create a problem when going against a bigger team that can run the ball repeatedly against the Cardinals' defense. If that happens, Braby said they would have to make some adjustments.

"But the way I think we are doing it we will be able to keep the offensive line a lot fresher if they don't have to play both ways," he said.

Heading into the season opener, Braby said University Academy quarterback Tyrese Wilson can stretch the defense by going to the air.

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"He's got a super big arm and can throw the ball long and a very athletic bunch this University Academy is and the quarterback is not afraid to tuck the ball in and run," Braby said. "He likes to roll out as well and if you can't contain him and keep him in the pocket and he gets outside of you then he's got the speed to make things difficult for you."

The Cardinals are hoping their special teams can help give them an advantage as well, as the fact they are able to keep their players fresher in the heat will be a factor in the game.

Braby said the team wants to avoid running the ball between the tackles too much in this game, and they want to get outside to the edges.

"When they start over compensating for that and we get them leaning in one direction because of our motion then we will run reverses and counters back the other way to get them over playing," Braby said. "But we got to play in the Jamboree and having a good showing against Lincoln. So I think the fact that we made some mistakes and got to be in front of some officials and we got the opportunity to play against someone else besides ourselves that maybe that will give us an advantage. I don't believe that (University Academy Charter) played in a Jamboree so I am hoping that just that and maybe being a little fresher with subs may be the key to wining this game."

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