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After struggling against La Pine, MHS finds its footing to outscore host Ridgeview, 6-0

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - After falling in their opener against La Pine, the Madras defense pitched a shutout against 5A Ridgeview.

Fall football has kicked off for the Madras football team. The White Buffalos competed in their first live action against real opponents in a jamboree this past Friday, which was held at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.

Despite some struggles in the first matchup against 3A La Pine, the Buffs were able to shake off the preseason jitters and nab a victory over 5A Ridgeview to spoil the event for the Ravens. The game-winning play came on the last snap of the game, as junior quarterback Dru Boyle hit fellow junior Cael White, who looks to be the Buffs' top receiving option this year. That touchdown was the only score of Madras' final tune-up, as the team's defense swarmed the Ravens and kept them off the board.

"We played some tough teams out there," said Madras varsity head coach Kurt Taylor. "That's a really good 3A team — and a dang good 5A team, too," he added, referring to La Pine and Ridgeview, respectively.

"Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out."

The Buffs' varsity squad went out for two short "games" at the jamboree, during which each team was allowed exactly 18 offensive plays. In the first game against La Pine, the Madras offense took some time to shake off the rust from the offseason. There was an early interception on the team's first chance with the ball, as a La Pine linebacker jumped in front of a Dru Boyle pass. Later, the Buffs lost a fumble on a mishandled snap. The defense needed a few plays to get back to speed, as well, allowing the Hawks to score twice during the jamboree.

"We saw some of the same things we saw last weekend," said Taylor, referring to the teams' intrasquad scrimmage the previous Saturday. In particular, Taylor reiterated that the offensive line features many new players who are still learning the position.

That improvement was easily seen even within the jamboree itself, as Madras found its footing immediately following the La Pine game. It would have been easy for the team to go into the second game with their heads hung low, but instead, they came out swinging against Ridgeview, finding their collective poise while outscoring their opponents from the 5A Intermountain Conference.

Despite being outmanned by the Ravens, the Madras defense bent but never broke. While the Ridgeview running game saw some early success, Madras senior Ethan Graeme and junior Brady David repeatedly pressured the Ridgeview quarterback into errant throws.

"Defensively, we did good," said Taylor. "We tackled well, pursued well, we got to the right spots."

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Junior wide receiver Cael White made two big plays on the Buffs' final drive, including a long gain to set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from fellow junior Dru Boyle.

Then, on the White Buffalos' final possession, the offensive gameplan finally came together. With just three plays remaining in the game, Cael White caught a pass over the middle from Dru Boyle, broke a tackle and took the ball all the way down to the one-yard line. White nearly scored on the play, reaching out with the ball in a full extension of his body, but the officials ruled that he stepped out of bounds.

After a rushing attempt could not break through the Ridgeview defense, Kurt Taylor and the Buffs had one final play to walk away from the jamboree with a victory. The Boyle-to-White connection worked once more, as the juniors joined up for a two-yard touchdown pass.

Taylor noted after the jamboree that, in addition to the success of the short passing game, running back Johan Poland also impressed with his efforts carrying the ball.

The junior varsity team got some practice repetitions in, too, playing in a pair of games against La Pine and Crook County. The younger Buffs were pushed around a bit by two bigger teams and made some mental mistakes, dropping both of their games. The team never showed any quit, though, and they eventually strung together a few nice offensive plays. Freshman quarterback Kylan Yaw hit fellow first-years Isaac Hernandez and Dereck Salgado for a few big gainers, and freshman running back Jayden Esquiro managed to find holes in the defense to pick up good yardage.

Regardless of the outcomes, though, the jamboree provided invaluable experience to both the varsity and JV teams, which will help them throughout the season.

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Madras head coach Kurt Taylor said after the Ridgeview jamboree that he was 'happy with how it turned out,' but also noted that the team still has improvements to make before Week 1 against Corbett.

"All in all, I'm just thankful that we're able to get out here in front of fans again," said Taylor.

"Just really blessed to be out here."

Madras varsity football begins its quest for a 4A Special District 2 title this Friday, Sept. 2. The White Buffalos will host the Corbett Cardinals in a 7 p.m. home opener at Madras High School.

"There are lots of things to improve on before Week 1," said Taylor after the jamboree. "We'll find solutions, though. We will continue to get better throughout the season."

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