Madras football tops Crook County to clinch elusive playoff spot
It was a night to remember for the Madras football team last Friday. The Buffs beat neighboring Crook County 21-12 to secure their first playoff spot since 2012. It will be just the second postseason appearance at the 4A level for the White Buffalo program since the OSAA moved to six classifications in 2007.
"Man, it was a great day to be a White Buffalo, I'll tell you that," exclaimed senior linebacker Texas Arreola after the win. "It was so special. That was us. What we've been trying to put out here."
"That's the new Madras," Arreola continued. "That's the new us. We're here to shock the city and we're here to shock the world and the league and everything."
Shock the league they did, as the Buffs secured an elusive playoff spot for the first time under Madras head coach Kurt Taylor. It was also the first win over nearby Crook County in 12 years for the White Buffalos.
"It feels good," said senior Reece White. "We haven't beat them in like 12 years, so it's been a long time. It feels amazing. The team's all coming together at the right time."
"We stayed together, and we just do what Madras do," Arreola added. "D.E.S.I.R.E. Discipline. Effort. Service. Integrity. Respect. Excellence. That's just our code. That's us."
The "D.E.S.I.R.E." slogan is a mainstay of the Madras program, emblazoned on team gear and apparel and repeated as a mantra throughout the team and coaching staff.
Those core values have helped this roster coalesce into something more than just a football team. Taylor has repeated time and time again throughout that "there is love in this team." It certainly does not hurt that there is talent on the team, too.
Though the team has yet to put together a full four quarters of efficient and mistake-free play, a strong first half from the Madras (4-3, 3-1 Special District 2) gave the Buffs a 21-6 lead by halftime.
Junior quarterback Dru Boyle tossed three touchdowns, including two long passes to favorite target and fellow junior Cael White. The pair have now connected for five scores on the season. The other TD pass went to Ayden Holcomb, who leaked out from the backfield on a run-pass option play and bullied his way into the end zone.
In the second half, the team could not keep up the same offensive firepower, failing to score in either the third or fourth quarters. That scoring drought opened the door for Crook County (2-6, 1-3 Special District 2) to mount a comeback attempt. A third-quarter touchdown pass from the Cowboys cut the lead to 21-12, but the two-point try was no good. Leading by two possessions, Madras was not yet in extreme danger.
Near the beginning of the fourth quarter, Crook County drove into White Buffalo territory but was stopped on third down. On the ensuing field goal attempt, the Madras defense stormed through the line and blocked the kick. Chaos erupted thereafter, as numerous Buff players made their way to the sidelines while one of the Cowboys grabbed the loose ball and ran it in for an apparent touchdown.
Much to the chagrin of the Prineville faithful who made the short drive to support the visiting team, an inadvertent whistle from the referee on the Madras sideline negated the score. Though the play should have remained live after the blocked field goal, the referee's mistaken decision to blow the whistle meant that the down had to be replayed. After the dust settled, Cael White broke up a pass in the end zone to end the Crook County drive.
The teams traded a few short possessions back and forth after that, but the Madras defense held firm and Crook County never threatened to put points on the board again. The Cowboys did cross midfield on their final drive, but a fourth-down pass breakup by senior Carter Dunten sealed the deal for the Buffs.
This week, the team heads to No. 10 Gladstone (4-4, 3-1 Special District 2) to finish out the regular season. Because the OSAA rules dictate that the league gets three automatic bids to the state playoffs, both the Buffs and Gladiators have already punched their tickets to next month's proceedings. Their game on Friday will be important for seeding purposes, however.
If Madras were to win, the team would see a nice bump in its OSAA ranking, which is based on two statistical metrics. Those rankings will determine the matchups for the 4A State Playoffs, so the higher Madras can get, the better chances the Buffs will have of moving on in the tournament.
As it stands, Madras is the lowest-ranked team in the projected playoff field at No. 18. A loss in Gladstone would all but guarantee they would face either No. 1 Cascade or No. 2 Marshfield in the opening round of the playoffs on Nov. 5.
"It's just another game," said Reece White of the matchup with Gladstone. "We've just got to play good like we always do, and just keep being us."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29, at Gladstone High School.
Madras 21, Crook County 12
at Madras High School
Crook County — 0 6 6 0 — 12
Madras — 7 14 0 0 — 21
M — Dru Boyle 80-yard pass to Cael White (Johan Poland kick)
CC — Palmer Smith 3-yard pass to Joshua Knight (two-point try failed)
M — Boyle 11-yard pass to Ayden Holcomb (Poland kick)
M —Boyle 32-yard pass to C. White (Poland kick)
CC —Smith 26-yard pass to Eddie Freauff (two-point try failed)
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