Madison Academy is building momentum toward another shot at a state title.
The Mustangs opened the 3A state playoffs by dismantling Winston County 58-19 last Friday at Bill Washington Stadium.
Madison Academy (9-2) has a six-game winning streak as it prepares to face former Region 7 rival Plainview (9-2) Friday. The Mustangs beat them 35-6 during the regular season last year.
With a win, Madison Academy will face former Region 7 foe Sylvania or current Region 8 rival Colbert County next week. The Mustangs blanked Colbert County 42-0 on Oct. 26.
Plainview entered the postseason as the second seed from Region 6. They defeated Susan Moore 62-26 to advance to the second round. Although Madison Academy beat them soundly last year, Mustangs coach Eric Cohu said this year’s Plainview team is a much different opponent.
“They are familiar, but this is a new team,” Cohu said.
Plainview finished 4-5 in 2011 and snapped a 22-year streak of reaching the playoffs. Cohu said that a corps of eight sophomores on offense has helped get the Bears back into the playoffs.
“The sophomores are really improving week by week,” Cohu said.
Cohu and the coaching staff will prepare the Mustangs’ defense for Plainview’s Wing T offense. He expects a strong ground game and play-action passing attack from the Bears.
“We’ve got our hands full,” said Cohu. “It will be a challenge for our defense.”
To keep added pressure off the Mustangs’ defense, Cohu will count on the offense to continue its steady progress.
After being lead prominently by explosive playmaker Kerryon Johnson, LaMarkus Martin, Malik Miller and Logan Hamlett have stepped up to help
Johnson in the running game. Johnson and Miller had two touchdown runs each against Winston County. Johnson also rushed for 106 yards. Martin finished with a team-high 143 rushing yards and ran for a score. Hamlett also rushed for a touchdown.
Adding to the offensive balance, quarterback Blake Coward has settled firmly into the starting quarterback role. Coward connected with receiver Nick Haas for two touchdown passes.
Cohu said that after making adjustments early in the season the offense found its identity as players got more comfortable in their new roles.
Opposing defenses “can’t key on one guy,” Cohu said. He said the Bears will run a 4-3 defense with quick defensive backs and a tough defensive front.
The kicking game also has depth. Chandler Trach returned to his kicking duties after missing action for a few games with a knee injury. Nathan Geis filled in admirably in Trach’s absence.
Both saw kicking duty against Winston County. Trach kicked a field goal and five extra points. Geis added two extra points.
Even with the Mustangs’ defense consistently minimizing opponents’ scoring opportunities, Cohu said continued offensive balance will still be important.
“We need to keep that up,” said Cohu.