When Madison County started the year 0-3 (0-4 if you count a pre-season loss to Suwannee), there was naturally a question as to how steep would the drop off be from last year’s senior laden team to this year.
After a six-point regular-season opening loss to Rickards Cowboys coach Mike Coe said, “I guarantee no one else in 1A is playing this schedule.”
And after a 37-0 defeat at the hands of Wakulla (9-1) in Week 3, things could have gone further south. But then Madison County came up with a 14-10 win over Florida High.
“The first two games against Suwannee and Rickards we could have just as easily won,” Coe said. “The next two games we had five or six starters out against really good football teams. But I’m glad we played those games. The speed of the game was fast and it showed us where we were weak at. We made changes in personnel and it showed our guys how hard they were going to have to work.”
Eight weeks later, the Cowboys are winners of eight in a row and are coming off a 65-12 shellacking of previously 9-1 Lake Butler Union County.
“Winning cures a lot,” Coe said. “You learn how to prepare. You learn what you can’t and can’t do. It showed us who was going to stick it out and who wasn’t. Their confidence never wavered. Once we got the first one, it just steamrolled from there.”
Madison’s question mark over who would make up for the 2,873 combined yards of rushing offense from graduated quarterback Akevious Williams and running Eric Bright got answered along the way.
Perhaps even more so.
Senior running back Patrick Brown has 1,122. Hamilton County transfer quarterback Kentwan Daniels has 969, while sophomore back Teryon Henderson’s 732 has eclipsed Brown’s 600-range total from last year, bringing in the possibility of three 1,000-yard rushers.
“I knew after the Wakulla game we’d be OK, because those kids practiced hard and played hard, especially our quarterback,” Coe said. “Kentwan would break through (into the secondary) and (safety) Keith Gavin would be there to tattoo him. But he just kept running and kept fighting and he kind of won our team over in that game.”
After the preseason game, in which it came out in a wing-T option as Madison has been known for in previous years, the Cowboys went back to the Auburn zone read that worked so well last year during an 11-4 season that got Madison to the Class 4A state semifinals.
The Cowboys (8-3) are a win over Fort White (9-2) away from reaching that point again, which would mark the fifth time in six years reaching the state semifinals regardless of classification.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Coe said. “Fort White plays a physical brand of football. They like to run the ball and control the clock. We’re going to have to go play dirty football and earn it.”