Madras football finds rhythm late in 35-12 loss to Ridgeview
Madras football was back in action on Friday night, but the White Buffalos were unable to hold off a dangerous Ridgeview offense as the Ravens prevailed 35-12 in Redmond. Leading the way for Madras was junior quarterback Dru Boyle, who rushed for over 100 yards and both scores in the Buffs' loss. With the result, Madras moves to 2-2 on the season.
'I think we just found our Brett Favre'
Throughout the first half of the season, Dru Boyle has shown a proficiency for taking matters into his own hands as the Madras quarterback. While the junior is still finding his groove as a passer, he has a keen understanding of when to pull the ball down and run. That ability was on full display against Ridgeview on Friday, as Boyle bowled over the Ravens' defense.
"I love it," said Madras head coach Kurt Taylor about his quarterback's improvisational skills.
"I just said it to (Dru)," the coach continued. "I think we just found our Brett Favre."
While Boyle may have a way to go before catching up to the Hall of Fame signal-caller, his coach is a firm believer that this style of play is a perfect match for his quarterback.
"We've been asking for it for weeks because he's got the ability," said Taylor of his quarterback taking over the offense with his decision-making and athleticism.
"He's a great leader," Taylor added. "He's got the physical abilities. He can throw the ball, run the ball. Now that he sees that he can do those things and become our gunslinger, he's going to be a really good ballplayer. I think we saw that tonight."
Boyle had a decent game throwing the ball, too. The junior was 6-of-12 through the air for 66 yards and an interception. That third-quarter turnover was mostly forgivable, though, as it came on a diving grab from a Ridgeview defender after a tipped ball.
The blossoming quarterback did not really get trucking until the second half, when he scored both of his touchdowns for Madras. The Buffs struggled to get the offense going in the first half, however.
After Cael White picked off Ridgeview on the Ravens' opening drive, the Madras offense stalled out in enemy territory after a fourth-down incompletion. The other first-half drives resulted in two punts and their final possession in the second quarter was interrupted by the halftime whistle as the Buffs trailed 21-0.
The offense showed improvement right out of the gate in the second half, scoring on their first drive. Following a 30-yard completion from Boyle to White, the quarterback scampered into the end zone for the White Buffalos' first score. The first attempt at the extra point was good; however, a penalty forced Madras to retry the kick, and the second attempt was blocked by Ridgeview.
Boyle lost a fumble on the next drive, but the Madras defense forced a three-and-out after a sack by edge rusher James Lange. Two plays later, the Ravens grabbed their tip-drill interception off of Boyle.
The Madras defense got the ball back when Cael White, who left the game briefly due to a lower leg injury, came up big once again. He grabbed his second interception of the game — and his third on the season overall — on Ridgeview's first drive of the fourth quarter.
While the Buffs didn't score on the ensuing possession, it did feature one of the most entertaining plays of the game. On second down, Boyle tossed the ball laterally to senior tight end Reece White, who then reared back and threw his own pass to younger brother Cael for a 25-yard connection. The younger White finished the game with four catches for 80 yards.
Madras rounded out their scoring near the end of the fourth quarter, when Boyle truly pushed his running game into overdrive. The junior quarterback strung together three consecutive first-down runs to open the possession. In total, Boyle gained nearly 60 yards on the ground during the final drive, capped off by his 12-yard TD run with 1:08 to play.
Unfortunately for Madras, there was not enough time left to mount any sort of a true comeback. When Ridgeview got the ball back, they simply went into victory formation and knelt the game away.
Yet another schedule change for Madras
"You could definitely tell that we've had two weeks off," said Taylor after the game.
The shifting of the schedule has become a common theme for Madras this season. As it stands, the Buffs have had to alter their schedule in four of the five weeks so far this season.
Last week's scheduled contest with Klamath Union was canceled because the Buffs were in the COVID-19 protocol. The team's most recent game, prior to the Ridgeview matchup, was its 14-13 home loss to Sweet Home on Sept. 17.
Its opening game against Corbett was canceled due to COVID. Its second game against Sisters was postponed a day due to wildfire smoke. Then, following last week's cancelation, the White Buffalos came out of their own protocol earlier in the week, only to find out that Molalla was going into one. The Indians' forfeit benefitted the Buffs, but it also left Madras without an opponent.
"It's really hard to go 'game, time off, game, time off,'" said Taylor. "There's no steadiness to it."
That unsteadiness has not only changed when and where the Buffs play their games, but also in how the team prepares for those contests.
"You're constantly trying to mitigate and redirect your practices in a way that keeps kids healthy, but also allows them to continue to get better, like we would in a normal season," said Taylor.
"We saw that a little bit tonight," the coach continued. "The first eight minutes or so, we looked really good. Then, we just kind of wore down a bit. It's tough."
The Buffs had a bit of luck when they found out that Ridgeview got a similar call from their own opponents, La Salle Prep, who was also quarantining this week. Suddenly, the Ravens needed a game and nearby Madras was happy to oblige. By Wednesday morning, the game was on.
"It's essentially an exhibition game," said Taylor after the loss. "We wanted to win, but it's like, 'Hey, we lost our game (against Molalla). Now it's Wednesday morning, let's exchange film (with Ridgeview).'"
"We didn't see any film until Wednesday," Taylor added. "It's not a typical game, but we've got to play football games."
Now the focus shifts to league play
As Madras recovers from the loss, there is something of a silver lining to the result. Because Molalla was forced to forfeit, the Buffs did pick up a league win this week. Still, Taylor knows that the remaining games in 4A Special District 2 are going to be tough.
Kurt Taylor is ready to go to war for this team, though.
"100 percent, this is the best buy-in we've ever had," said Taylor after the game. "Hands down."
However, while the coach is not concerned about his team's heart or dedication, he did note that the Buffs need to continue getting stronger — both physically and mentally.
"If we can just get them to go to the weight room for the entire year, that would be amazing," said Taylor, who runs the strength and conditioning program at Madras High School.Â "That's where we lose games. We lose games in the weight room."
"One of the things that we've got to do a better job of," the coach continued, "is maintaining — I don't want to call it momentum. It's not momentum. It's something else. It's this aspect of, 'Hey, we're doing a good job. We're moving forward, we're doing the things we need to do.' Then something happens, and we get into the negative self-talk. Then, we fade a little bit."
"We have to be resilient, get rid of that and move on," Taylor added. "It's like playing golf. You hit a slice into the woods, it's got to be 'next shot.' If you stay in it and stay in it, it really eats at you."
"That's what we did tonight," said Taylor of his team's performance at Ridgeview. "You could just see it. You could just tell. That's not really normal of this particular team."
Taylor is ready to put this game behind him and forge ahead as conference play looms.
"Now, we've got to go into league play and go," he said.
"The next four games are the most important games of the season, until we get into the playoffs," Taylor continued. "We'll take them one week at a time, starting with a really, really, really good team next week."
Madras' season resumes Thursday, Oct. 7, with a road trip to Estacada to face a very good Rangers team. Estacada is currently undefeated and came into Friday's 48-13 win over Gladstone as the No. 2 team in all of 4A.
Earlier in the season, the Rangers also beat Seaside 30-14. That win is extremely impressive because the Seagulls, who were ranked No. 9 in the 4A classification this week, have not allowed a single point to any of their other opponents so far. Further, the Seaside offense has averaged 57.3 points per game in its other three games but was held to just two touchdowns against Estacada.
The matchup will be a tough one for Madras, but with the team at full buy-in and with Dru Boyle finding his rhythm on offense, the Buffs are looking forward to the challenge.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.