A stout ground game and a solid defense
helped the Madisonville-North Hopkins Maroons defeat the Allen
County-Scottsville Patriots 28-7 in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs
last Friday night at Madisonville.
One glance at the stat sheet tells the
story of the game. The Maroons’ Jarish Hightower carried the pigskin 43 times
and racked up 268 yards---part of a night in which Madisonville gained 326
yards on the ground. Combined with 61 yards passing, the Maroons offense was
too much for the Patriots to overcome.
However, the offensive attack by
Madisonville was magnified given the fact that AC-S starting slow offensively
“The start of the
game was really bad,” coach Brad Hood explained. “I was really disappointed
with how we come out of the gate. We knew that their game plan would be
to try to force the run on us. The two on-side kicks that we gave up were
crucial. We had planned for them to be very aggressive on the kick-offs
and letting them take the air out of us was just to much to overcome.
Especially with the field conditions you can't give any freebies.”
Madisonville opened the game by putting the
ball in the hands of Hightower. The powerful back helped the Maroons march down
the field to score on a six-play drive. The point after gave the Maroons a 7-0
lead less than three minutes into the game.
What followed would be an early
game-changing moment. On the ensuing kick-off, Madisonville’s Will Sanderson
squibbed the ball off the tee. A teammate recovered the on-sidekick. The
Maroons offense trotted back on the field and Hightower went back to work.
Aided by a pass play thrown in the midst, the Maroons needed seven plays to
score again. Sanderson’s point after gave the hosts a 14-0 lead by the midway
point of the first period.
The Maroons added a third
score in the first quarter. A five play 52 yard drive late in the first quarter
upped the score to 21-0. Minutes later,
Madisonville used their run-oriented offense to mount an 11-play, 78 yard
drive. Aroon quarterback Hayden Reynolds capped the march with a 19-yard
touchdown pass. The score---the fourth in the hosts first five possessions
pushed the score to 28-0.
Senior quarterback Chase Wilson led AC-S
back. A short pass to junior Jacob Lightfoot would be followed by an 18-yard
pass play to junior Kelly Weger. Six and eight yard pass completions to
Lightfoot and Cayden Ross enabled the Patriots to push into the Madisonville
red zone. Seconds later, Wilson connected to Lightfoot for a 16-yard scoring
strike---the 15th time this season the pair have hooked up for a touchdown.
Sheldon Peay’s PAT put AC-S on the board—and kept the door open for an AC-S
“I felt like the score did slow them down a
little and gave us something to build off of,” coach Hood explained. “We just
didn't take advantage after that. I truly felt after the first score we
was going to make a comeback.”
Such was not the case. The Maroons turned to
ball control, clock management, solid defense, and a little bit of trivckery to
hold the Patriots at bay.
AC-S was to gain possession to start the
second half but a second Madisonville onside kick and recovery may have been
the play that changed the game. Even though the Maroons did not score after
taking over near midfield, the play dampening the AC-S spirits. In the third
frame, AC-S would be forced to punt on three consecutive positions.
The Patriot defense buckled down and would
not allow the Maroons to add another score. Still, the power running of
Hightower was enough to help Madisonville mount multiple play drives before
punting the ball away. The run game chewed up the clock, thus eliminating
AC-S’s opportunities for a comeback.
The Patriots finished the night with their
lowest offensive production of the season. Wilson completed 14 of 26 passes for
118 yards in his 32nd and final game as a Patriot. Ross led the way in
receiving with five catches for 47 yards with Lightfoor hauling in four passes
for 37 yards. AC-S struggled on the ground. With sack yardage figured in, the
Patriots were a negative 33 in rushing yards.
Afterwards, Hood had to say goodbye to a
group of seniors that had put together a solid senior season.
“This group was hard to see leave,” coach
Hood said. “Knowing these boys for so long and seeing them grow into the young
men they are today is something that I cherish. We spent a lot of time
together over the last four years and most of these young men have been around
my sideline since they were seven or eight years old. You get attached to
them and you love them dearly, so saying good-bye is always very hard for
me. I look at these guys as family and I just hope that I've somehow
helped them along their journey as they enter adult hood.”
Wilson will leave AC-S football after
rewriting the Patriot record book. Wilson is now the all-time leader in career
passing yards (5.750), passing touchdowns (58), completes passes (365), most
passing yuards in a season (2,658), passing yards in a game (373), and touchdowns
passes in a game (6).
The final week of the season also brought
recognitions for five Patriots. Wilson and Lightfoot were selected to the first
team Offensive All-Season SKY Conference (Large school), punter Sheldon Peay
was First Team Defensive All-Season SKY Conference, with Cayden Ross and Steven
Whitney named to the Second Team All-SKY conference---Ross on offense as a
receiver and Whitney as a defensive member on the defensive line.
AC-S (7-4) will close the season with their
annual banquet later this year or in early 2018. After that, comes the work to
prepare for the 2018 season---the 50th year of Patriot football.
“Moving forward we have to build off a very
successful year,” Hood noted. “We went 7-4! There was one game I felt we
left out there that could have changed a lot of things but we cannot have it
back. So we have to move forward. This group had a good year and we
need to carry this momentum throughout our program. JV was undefeated and
the Freshman went 6-2 with the first loss being against a heavily filled JV
team. So the program took great strides this season. This
off-season needs to be about getting stronger and replacing several
starters. The good thing is we have a lot of young kids to take on this