For Madison’s football team, the nerves keep on coming, but so do the wins. The Warhawks demonstrated their flair for the dramatic once again last Friday in a 28-21 win against Fairfax that marked their fourth consecutive victory featuring a second-half comeback.
Junior running back Nick Scott shot out of the gates with 162 yards and two touchdowns on five carries to help Fairfax claim a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Trailing 21-14 at the half, the Warhawks changed into their Superman outfits and returned to pitch a second half shutout that limited Scott to just 23 yards rushing.
“We keep talking to our team about character, and we’re revealing our character,” Madison coach Lenny Schultz said. “We thought coming into halftime that we were in pretty decent shape having just scored to make it 21-14. If we could score that first drive and set the tone for the second half, we’d be OK. We managed to shut them down and put our defense together and did a great job coming back. It was a total team effort.”
Madison benefitted largely from two players filling in for injured teammates. Senior quarterback Mitchell Goddard — in just his second start in place of Dan Powers — came away with several clutch plays on his way to completing 16 of 20 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown.
After engineering a momentum-shifting 99-yard scoring drive just before halftime, Goddard completed an improbable 53-yard jump-pass to Ben Sanford that set up the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. His performance will leave coaches with a difficult decision to make this week, since Powers figures to be healthy after nursing a foot injury.
Senior running back Grant Hofmann also came away with his biggest game of the season, rushing for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the wake of a foot injury that sidelined Jacob Hall in the first half. Hofmann’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:28 to go put the Warhawks ahead 28-21, their first lead of the evening and one they wouldn’t relinquish.
With seven straight wins under its belt, Madison (7-1, 5-0) has locked up at least a second-place finish in the Liberty District. A runner-up finish would equal the ending of last season, when the Warhawks’ 7-4 record marked their best campaign since going 9-3 in 2007.
The season’s toughest test awaits Madison on Friday night when it hosts Stone Bridge (8-0, 5-0). The Warhawks aim to avenge last year’s outcome, when Stone Bridge beat them 35-20 to secure the Liberty crown.
“We’ve got to play our best game of football against Stone Bridge,” Schultz said. “They’re number one in the state and number one in the area and have been king of the hill for so long, we’ve got to play our best game of football and maybe get a break here and there to be in this ball game. If we can play them close, we’ve got a chance.”
Centreville claims third straight Sully Bowl, 45-31
Madison’s comeback against Fairfax hardly was the most surprising turnaround of last Friday’s slate of games. Centreville opened its homecoming night trailing Chantilly 17-0 by the end of the first quarter before erupting for 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to grab the halftime lead. The Wildcats rode that momentum into the second half, scoring on seven of their final eight possessions to pull away with a 45-31 win and their third consecutive Sully Bowl victory.
After being outgained 159 yards to 21 in the opening quarter, Centreville’s defense stepped up in a big way, allowing just 150 yards the rest of the game. That performance, which also featured three interceptions, gave the offense a level of confidence it hadn’t reached all season.
“It was kind of the game this year that we hadn’t had yet,” Centreville coach Chris Haddock said. “I’ve been telling our guys all year that we’ve been close, but we hadn’t really clicked together. I think some things finally clicked. We certainly made our share of mistakes, but I think for the most part we played our best game and some lightbulbs went off in some guys’ heads.”
The win moved Centreville (6-2, 2-1) into second place in the Concorde District. It’s within striking distance of Westfield (8-0, 3-0), which the Wildcats face on the road Friday night.
Though a balanced Westfield team poses multiple threats at just about every position, Centreville players have been using practice this week to focus more on their own game than that of their opponent.
“I’m not really worried about their personnel,” said sophomore AJ Turner, who had two touchdowns and an interception against Chantilly. “I just think that if we fill our gaps, intercept the ball, hit people, we’ll be fine.”
With 18 of its 22 starters from last season gone, Centreville began its 2012 campaign with a fresh supply of young players ready to forge a new legacy. A talented slew of sophomores has received the bulk of the attention so far this season, but Haddock emphasizes the hard work put in by often-overlooked seniors like Brendan Willis, Marcel Smith, Kris Watson and Mike Masseria, all of whom have provided a solid foundation for the team’s young playmakers.
Still, youth has been the team’s defining quality this year, something that’s yielded more positive results than negative ones.
“Our kids have been pretty resilient this year, and I think a lot of people are concerned about our youth and inexperience, and in a lot of ways, I am too,” Haddock said. “But in a lot of ways our youth kind of gives us a spirit where it doesn’t matter what the score is, they still feel like they can beat anybody anytime.”