Madison has been a snake-bitten football team a year after the best season in school history.
And the fangs are in deep.
Injuries have not only been widespread, but afflicted some of the key playmakers for the Patriots (4-4, 0-3).
Former All-WNC lineman Derrick English had 54 tackles through three games. Then he went down with a knee injury, right around the time fellow senior Tyler Rogers (535 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions) broke a femur.
Rogers was a 1,000-yard passer in 2012 when the Patriots went 13-2 and made a run to the 2-A Western Regional championship game. Now, the quarterback is expected to be out two more weeks with another leg injury.
So when Madison coach Mark Gosnell calls Tyler Hoffman “steady,” it couldn’t be a much bigger compliment for a 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior with 1,645 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
“I really try not to worry about the individual stuff,” Hoffman said.
“Really, my goal each week is to put my team in a position to win. Our offensive line is opening up the biggest holes I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible, I owe so much to all of them.”
Hoffman ran for a single-game school record 334 yards in Friday’s 44-26 loss at Owen and now has 4,219 career yards.
The Patriots’ school record is 4,282 and held by 1986 graduate Robert West, whose single-season mark (1,703) is also in jeopardy this week as Madison hosts Avery County (3-5, 0-3).
Hoffman’s offensive line is a group of blockers made up of Brent Turner, Dylan Hilemon, Cody Cantrell, Bobby Dodd and Jacob Patterson.
“We never imagined we’d have the kind of injuries we’ve had,” Gosnell said.
“When you’re a school our size and you lose one player, that usually means having to fill (multiple positions). It’s been a challenging year. But Tyler has been steady Eddie for us. He’s really been the highlight each week. It’s like I told our staff, if I was a college coach and I watched that Owen game, there’s no way I wouldn’t want a kid like that.”
After reviewing the film, Gosnell said he counted 29 tackles that Hoffman broke on his record night in the Swannanoa Valley. Hoffman has easily surpassed his junior year totals (1,380 yards and 15 touchdowns) and averages 28 carries a game for Madison.
“Everyone has preseason goals and mine was to get to 2,000 yards,” Hoffman said.
“But I couldn’t get it done without the players around me. The season hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, but no one is giving up.”