Buffs win big in season opener
The Madras White Buffalo football program made a statement in Friday's 53-7 victory over McLoughlin.
The hungry Buffalos took control of the game from the very first play of their 2018 season. Allen Jackson returned the opening kickoff 60 yards and scored to put the Buffs up 7-0, before even running a single play.
"The first kick return touchdown was really important; it set the tone for the whole game," said head coach Kurt Taylor. "I could tell we were really nervous at the beginning and that opened the flood gates. We were ready to rock and roll from there."
Once the special teams did their jobs, the Madras defense took full control of the momentum and stopped McLoughlin after only allowing one first down. The White Buffalo defense made plenty of stops, including a fourth-down stop on McLoughlin's own 30-yard line.
The Buffalo offense struggled in the first quarter, turning the ball over twice. A fumble during a Madras offensive drive and a bobbled ball in the end zone, led to a McLoughlin interception. Quarterback Liam White dropped back to pass at the goal line, and hit his receiver in stride, but the ball was bobbled and landed in a McLoughlin defender's lap and the ref whistled the play dead in the end zone.
Senior transfer Victor Torres made his presence known early, using his speed and agility to score on a 57-yard run in the second quarter. It gave the Buffalos a 14-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.
After the Torres run, the Buffalos' defense held up once again, shutting down the McLoughlin offense, and forcing a punt. Jackson returned the punt, weaving for a 25-yard gain before being hit. He would leave the game with a shoulder injury.
"Allen was the real deal back there," Taylor said. "Tall, can jump out of the building, great reads; we will need to work on trying to replace him for a couple games."
With good field position, the Buffs capitalized with a balanced offense for another score. Dual run/catch slot receiver Robert Pacheco caught a quick slant from White for an 8-yard gain.
Speed back Torres showed his strength carrying the defender to the 1-yard line. Power back Treyvon Easterling punched the ball in for a Madras 21-0 lead.
Mac-Hi's offense was sparked by a 48-yard reception to wideout Devin Humbart from quarterback Wyatt Gilmore. McLoughlin drove inside the 10-yard line and forced a Madras neutral zone infraction, giving the Pioneers a first down. They capitalized on the Madras penalty and Marcellus Brinkley found the end zone on a 1-yard run.
The Buffs had a 21-7 lead, with four minutes left in the first half.
With kick returner Jackson out, Madras put in senior varsity soccer goalie Byron Patt to return. Patt is the Madras High School soccer team's goalie and has only allowed one goal in their first two games. He was also the punter for the White Buffalos before the football coaching staff capitalized on his athleticism to return kicks.
Patt caught the ball near the White Buffalo sideline, breaking two tackles and running to the Pioneer sideline, before breaking free for a 60-yard touchdown — the second kickoff return score for the Buffs and first varsity touchdown for Patt.
"Byron's (touchdown) was great; awesome timing for both of them," Taylor said.
"I did not think I would ever get interviewed for football," said Patt. "I am a punter. I was really excited to get in the game and show what I could do. I told the coach going out there, 'Watch this,' and went in there and showed him something."
"It felt great," he said. "First varsity touchdown, first touch on the ball felt so good."
"This is a lot of work, but I think it is so fun, doing work for both teams," said Patt, about playing both soccer and football during the same season.
Madras had a 28-7 lead as the horn rang and the teams made their way to the locker rooms for halftime.
The Buffs came out in the second half with the mindset of not being satisfied with a 21-point lead. The Madras defense stopped McLoughlin, allowing a chance for their offense to put more points on the board.
White hit a slanting Pacheco for a 19-yard pickup for the Buffs in their first offensive possession of the second half. Easterling scored his second touchdown of the game with a 6-yard run.
McLoughlin's offense, desperately looking to score, went for it on fourth down, with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Buffalo defense held strong again for another fourth-down stop.
The first offensive play after the fourth-down stop was another long touchdown run by Torres. Torres took the handoff from White, ran to the edge, past the Pioneer defensive end, found an opening and took it for a 62-yard score.
"Victor (Torres) is unbelievable and he is such a great kid," Taylor said. "He wants to be a part of this family; he stood up in front the the team during last week's jamboree and thanked the boys for allowing him to be a part of the family."
"He is a stud and a dang good running back," he said. "You have a tough job as a head coach, and so does the offensive coordinator, when you have trouble deciding how many times you give Torres the ball and how many times you give Trey (Easterling) the ball. That is the toughest part of my job right now."
"They are both very good backs," Taylor said. "Trey has a different skill set and Victor is special. He is going to play at the next level. He has that kind of speed and vision."
Easterling ran for 1,068 yards and 11 touchdown last season, earning first-team all Tri-Valley Conference as a sophomore, while Torres ran for 1,267 yards and 11 touchdowns for Culver last season, earning first-team all Columbia Basin Conference at the 2A level.
"It is tough to transfer senior year and very different, but they embraced me with open arms and are really starting to become family," Torres said. "As long as we play all out for each other, no one can stop us."
The White Buffalos put all their subs in for the fourth quarter, with a 40-6 lead.
Pacheco took over for White at quarterback and used his legs for a 5-yard touchdown run.
Nathan Stout picked off Mac-Hi quarterback, Gilmore with four minutes left in the game. A 21-yard run by Pacheco and 26-yard run by Wesley Beamer put the Buffs into scoring position once again. Pacheco scored on a 2-yard run, giving Madras a 53-7 lead.
Madras offensively ended with 402 yards of total offense — 342 on the ground and 60 through the air. Torres ended the game with 187 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. Easterling finished the game with 55 yards and two touchdowns, on 13 attempts, and Pacheco, 40 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
"Our plan was not to put split backs in this early, but it was working," Torres said. "Trey and I are so different, it complements us and the team. We are going to keep going. The running back motto is don't stop and we won't."
Kody Zemke and Beamer also contributed with 57 yards rushing combined.
White ended the game 7-for-11, 60 yards and an interception. His favorite target was Pacheco, who led the team in receptions with three for 42 yards.
The Buffalo defense only allowed 180 total yards of offense. McLoughlin's offense went 2-for-13 on third-down attempts and 0-for-3 on fourth-down attempts.
The White Buffalos' 53-7 victory is the largest point margin since the 2006 season, when Madras beat Crook County 59-0.
"I thought we had a great game," Taylor said. "We practiced very well all week and it showed tonight. We have been telling them the same stuff all offseason and we expect good things now. If they keep putting in the work and believing in themselves, the sky's the limit."
"Winning the first game is huge; it really sets the tempo for the whole season," he said. "It gets the kinks out, lets you evaluate things, and helps continue with their confidence. It is all about confidence with these guys. We have athletes; they just have to believe in themselves."
"We face two really good opponents in the next couple weeks and we are going to take it one step at a time," said Taylor.
The Buffalos play the La Pine Hawks, in La Pine, Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m.
"La Pine is a good ball club," he said. "They are going to come right after our defense. We have to be a little quicker, as far as getting the ball in the end zone. We are always a little slow offensively. I would love to see us move the ball quickly."
The Hawks went 9-1 during the 2017 season, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Rainier. La Pine beat Douglas 18-12 last week, and is 1-0 this season.