New coach brings a philosophy to a team that needed it

Photo Credit: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - First-year Madras coach Sean Cease addresses his team after Friday night's practice inside the new football stadium. Cease has brought a well-needed attitude adjustment with him and his players seem to respond to it.Sean Cease is not a big man.

At just 5 feet, 6 inches, he easily gets lost in a crowd, especially one that gathers around him. But everywhere the first-year Madras football coach goes these days, a crowd follows.

And it is due to a few simple things: his fiery personality and no-nonsense approach to coaching football.

Cease may be small in stature, but he brings a big attitude with him. Intense and fiery are just a few words his players readily rip off when asked to describe the first-year coach.

The fire and intensity Cease brings with him not only seems to be what the Madras football program needs at this stage, it is what its players want. And he is happy to oblige them.

“We’re trying to change the attitude,” said Cease, who takes over after a stint as an assistant at Portland’s 6A power Jesuit. “Some of the stuff we do is very negative; if something went wrong, the players would start pointing fingers and stuff. We’re trying to change that attitude.”

Cease inherits a team that struggled through the 2013 season with a 2-7 overall mark and went winless in the Tri Valley Conference.

The negativity was apparent the very first day of practice, he said, but things are slowly getting better.

“It’s happening. It’s hard to change that culture; it easy to be negative when things are going wrong,” Cease said. “It’s a process and it’s happening. The kids are trying, but it’s going to take a little while.”

The kids are trying mostly because they like the new attitude Cease has brought with him. It’s almost like some of them have been waiting for this to happen.

“It’s way better. We have something more to look forward to with everything new,” senior lineman Quinton Big Knife said.

One of the biggest changes is the pace of practice. Senior Ethan Short said they are intense and quick, there is no time wasted and there is always something to work on and learn.

That pace has the players on their toes, as well as the coaches.

“Coach will get on us when we need it,” senior quarterback Chad Lindgren said. “And I like it.

Attitude adjustment aside, the White Buffalos must also find their way on the field.

Cease said when he took the job that he would not bring a system with him, instead choosing to build a system around what he’s got to work with.

So far, he likes what he sees.

“We’ve got hard-working kids that will do anything that I ask them to do,” Cease said.

Offensively, the Buffs will hang their hat on a power running game. It’s what the team has shown to be the most effective weapon at this time.

With the makings of a solid front line, anchored by Big Knife, a solid quarterback in Lindgren and skill out on the edges, the Buffs will have opportunities to do a lot.

But the run will come first and that will set everything else up.

And with a large stable of backs, Madras will be able to go with a two-man set and shift in and out of it depending on the situation.

Heading into the year, junior Chris North and senior Jered Pichette expect to see their share of carries with Matthew Marcotte and Short joining the rotation.

When it is time to throw the ball, Lindgren will have options with wide outs Howard Bell-Raines and Miklo Hernandez as targets.

“I think we are looking at a good year. I mean, I’m not going to blow smoke up our skirts, but I think we’re going to be fine,” Lindgren said.”We just need to do our jobs. And when we do our jobs, we’ll win games.”

Cease said the key to everything is the front five, and so far so good. He added that by the end of the season, he wants to be so good up front that his guys can tell the opponent the play and still execute and gain yards.

“That’s the attitude I want our guys to have,” Cease said. “We’re going to run no matter what. We’re going to be smart enough to audible, but when we want to run something, we’re going to run it.” If there is a major change to the Buffs this year, it comes on defense.

Gone are the 4-4 schemes of the past. Cease will use his strength and athleticism at linebacker to get Madras into a 3-4.

“I think we have the guys to do it; it gives us a chance to be more athletic and maybe not as big with our defensive line,” Cease said.

As with the runningbacks, the defensive front seven will see heavy rotation and playing time will depend on health and results.

Voshaun Bryant, Colton Goss and Cristian Quintana are a few of the linemen that Cease expects big things out of, but as many as seven guys could end up playing an equal amount of time.

“Our defense is going to get better as the year goes on,” Cease said. “Our defense is basically two weeks old. I know we are going to give up points, but we are going to work hard to get better.”

Of course, winning a few games early on would definitely help, in all areas. But Cease said there is so much more to this process than just wins.

“Our attitude and our willingness to get better and be a team is really what is important,” Cease said. “It would be great to go into league with a nice winning record, but we need to make sure we are building a team that’s going to be the foundation for the next 15-20-25 years. And that’s really what I’m trying to do.”

“I don’t want people to think that wins aren’t important, because they are very important,” Cease said. “But I don’t want the kids to gauge our success just by wins. We’re trying to build something that is going to be bigger than that. And hopefully we’ll build some memories for these kids.”

Quick facts

Last season: 2-7 overall, 0-5 in 4A Tri Valley Conference.

Key returners: Chad Lindgren, Ethan Short, Jered Pichette.

Key games: Oct. 3 at Gladstone, Oct. 9 Crook County at home.

Season outlook: A new coach, a new stadium and a new attitude all add up to a new-found desire to succeed for the White Buffalos. With first-year coach Sean Cease at the helm, the Buffs are getting a taste of what it takes to be successful. Cease coached at 6A Jesuit, a staple in the state semifinals and finals, and wants to get Madras going in that direction, soon. He has some solid players to work with, but importantly, he has players who want to work.

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