Madison High School’s football team is surging toward a double prize — the outright Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title and a Division V, Region 20 playoff berth.
Both seem likely, but there are no absolutes right now, especially when it comes to Harbin computer points.
“All we can do is control these last two games and hope we’re in a good spot at the end,” said Mohawks coach Steve Poff, whose squad is on a five-game winning streak. “We’re preparing like we always do. We’re worrying about ourselves.”
Madison is 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the SWBL Buckeye. The Mohawks have already clinched a share of the Buckeye crown, their third in the last four years.
Two road games remain in the regular season, Waynesville (1-7, 1-3) on Friday and Northridge (0-8, 0-5) next week. Madison is currently second in Region 20, but there’s not a lot of available Harbin points the rest of the way.
The Mohawks have never made the playoffs, so a berth would be historic.
“It (would be) huge because our class wasn’t the best growing up,” said Madison senior Tyler Baumgartner, a halfback and cornerback. “If we lose, our dreams are crushed, so we’re focused on Waynesville. You’ve got to play every team like they can beat you.”
“Everybody started talking about the playoffs during our scrimmage games,” Poff said. “But the playoffs aren’t possible if you don’t take care of the next game. If we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, we don’t know who our opponent would be, so there’s no sense in worrying about that until everything gets figured out.”
Things weren’t so encouraging early in the season after the Mohawks lost to Monroe (27-13) and Valley View (32-7) to fall to 1-2.
Poff said Madison learned a valuable lesson from Monroe, which is 1-7.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from Monroe. They played better than we did that night,” Poff said. “Trust me, it’s something we talk about. Don’t take plays off and don’t take days off and don’t take weeks off. You’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand.
“I didn’t feel the Valley View game was a total loss. I was never embarrassed about the way we played. I felt like we were physical and tackled well enough. We had some blown assignments, and once they scored a couple times, we couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding.
“Walking off the field against Valley View, we knew it was time to refocus. Our whole season was right in front of us, and it was one game at a time. We said, ‘If you want to make the playoffs, this is a playoff week.’ We’ve kept that approach.”
The Mohawks haven’t been seriously challenged since the Valley View game, outscoring their five opponents 221-42. And they’ve done it their way, pounding the rock on offense and defending with physicality.
“Winning breeds and boosts confidence, and right now I think our kids are confident,” Poff said. “We do our best to keep them grounded about the little things. I’ve said it before, but we’re details away from being a really good team. Anybody on our schedule, if we lined up and played them again, I think we’d be a tough out.”
Madison has rushed for 2,743 yards and passed for 316. Junior Cameron Svarda (129 carries, 1,005 yards, 12 TDs), Baumgartner (96 carries, 708 yards, 11 TDs), junior Evan Crim (86 carries, 473 yards, four TDs) and junior quarterback Mason Whiteman (39 carries, 296 yards, seven TDS) are doing most of the running.
“Just running right at you,” Baumgartner said. “If you can stop it, stop it. But we’re going to find something that works.”
What: Madison (6-2, 4-0 SWBL Buckeye) at Waynesville (1-7, 1-3 SWBL Buckeye), 7 p.m.
Where: Spartan Community Field, 735 Dayton Road, Waynesville
Last year: Madison won 48-7