MADISON TWP. — Steve Poff took his headset off and walked the Madison High School football team’s sideline with the usual, determined glare.
The Mohawks coach just watched his squad take care of business — again — as the fourth-quarter clock was winding down on a rare Thursday game night at Brandenburg Field.
Kaleb Miller and Jordan Perry each had a pair of touchdown runs, and Madison turned in a stellar defensive performance to register a convincing 34-7 victory over National Trail.
The Mohawks are 4-0 for the first time since 2018, the last season of Poff’s first stint that began in 2014.
“It’s hard to complain about being 4-0, but we have to get way better,” said Poff, who returned to the helm this season. “We’re getting into the tougher portion of our schedule, and we know that. People are going to say whatever they want about our first part of the schedule. We play the games in front of us, and we were able to win them. I feel like we got some quality wins regardless of what the world thinks.
“We’re glad to get away from it and glad to see how we can compete when we get into our league schedule. We know we have a good league, and it’s going to be competitive. We want it to be competitive.”
The Mohawks begin Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division play next Friday at home against Brookville. The seven Buckeye Division teams are a combined 19-3.
“I think we’re playing at half of what we could be,” Madison senior Aiden Grooms said. “We’re going to have to pick it up — especially when we have to play Brookville, Valley View and Eaton, and the rest of the league. I think we can compete with them. We just have to step it up.”
While the Mohawks cruised to a 27-0 lead in the first half, all of it was done without arguably their best player — running back and linebacker Kwenton Rhodus.
The senior scampered for a lengthy run down the left sideline before getting tackled hard near the National Trail 5-yard line on just the second play of the game. He hit the locker room and didn’t return.
“We’re not going to speculate too much, but it looks like the collar bone,” Poff said of Rhodus, who led the team in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and tackles heading into Thursday’s game. “He is a very key player. Not just on the field, but off the field. He’s one of our energy guys at practice. He’s got some great leadership. He’s not a team captain just because he’s a good player. He’s a team captain because people follow him.
“Whatever it is, we’ll come together and do our best to get through it. It’s just the way it is. I told them all along that bad things are going to happen. You’re not going to stop them from happening. All you can do is respond accordingly and keep moving forward. The plan is still the plan. The goal is still the goal. It’s easier if Rhodus is with us.”
Madison powered on, though.
Quarterback Cy Thompson put the Mohawks on the board first with an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:28 showing on the first-quarter clock.
Miller scored his first touchdown from a yard out to give Madison a 14-0 lead with 10:41 left in the second quarter.
“I seen 11 guys flying around,” Miller said. “I seen 11 guys flying around just trying to make plays.”
Junior Landen Adkins recovered a National Trail (1-3) fumble that set up Perry’s first TD, a 5-yard run with 9:42 left before the half. Perry had a 22-yard score that sent Madison into the locker room on top 27-0.
“We kept moving the chains a little bit and snuck a pass in there every once in a while. We will see if we can still do that,” Poff said. “I thought our offensive line matured quite a bit this week. We had a rough week of practice and on a short week. I thought they responded well after missing a day of practice during the week. We’re putting the pressure on the line. If we’re going to win, you’ve got to have that.”
Miller capped Madison’s scoring with a 2-yard plunge in the third quarter. Madison senior Jaylin Pendleton added an interception in the second half.
“We still have ways to improve. We’re definitely not playing at our potential,” Miller said. “The mindset has definitely been fast and physical all year, and that’s about it. Everybody has stepped it up, but I know we still have so much more room to improve. Personally, I haven’t played to my full potential, and I know that there are some other guys that haven’t as well.”
“They’re improving. It’s all a process,” Poff added. “Learning is a process. Learning how to win is a process. Learning how to handle winning is a process. It’s a new thing. Offense is new. Defense is new. What we’re trying to get done here is new.”