Mav­er­icks rush to 27-6A crown

League ti­tle first for Madi­son since 2012; open play­offs against Warren

San Antonio Express-News - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL - By Ter­rence Thomas tthomas@ex­ Twit­ter: @en_ter­rence

Madi­son quar­ter­back Dante Heag­gans sim­ply just wanted some con­ti­nu­ity. He wanted to see the same head coach and of­fen­sive scheme ev­ery time a new sea­son started.

Heag­gans knew the tal­ent and de­ter­mi­na­tion were there. But they were lost amid the re­volv­ing door of head coaches.

The Mav­er­icks found sta­bil­ity in coach Blaine Ped­er­son, a for­mer stand­out player at the school. They claimed some­thing even more prized — a District 27-6A cham­pi­onship.

Paced by a bal­anced and pun­ish­ing rush­ing at­tack, No. 3 Madi­son raced past No. 7 John­son 4928 on Fri­day at Co­ma­lan­der Sta­dium. The Mav­er­icks (8-2, 7-0) se­cured their first league crown since 2012 and will face Warren (8-2) next week in a Class 6A, Divi­sion I bidis­trict con­test.

“From where we started a year ago, to go un­de­feated in district is a big deal for us,” Ped­er­son said. “Part of it was they needed con­sis­tency. I tried to be there ev­ery day, make sure that they know that I’m not go­ing any­where. We had to build them up, get them to be­lieve in them­selves again. They do, and now we’re reap­ing the ben­e­fits of it.”

Three years ago, the se­niors were fresh­men when Madi­son fin­ished 0-10. The tra­jec­tory to get­ting back to where league ti­tle and deep play­off runs were the norm was achieved on a chilly and cold evening.

Heag­gans raced 75 yards for a touch­down on the game’s first play to set a tone for the Mav­er­icks, who beat John­son (7-3, 5-2) for the first time in six years.

“I just wanted to start fast,” said Heag­gans, who rushed for a game-high 206 yards and two touch­downs. “Our line­men did a good job all game mak­ing holes for me and the run­ning backs.”

Madi­son’s dom­i­nance at the line of scrim­mage paved the way for a rush­ing at­tack that amassed 481 yards on 41 car­ries, an av­er­age of 11.4 yards per at­tempt.

It also al­lowed the Mav­er­icks to bounce back af­ter John­son scored twice in five min­utes to lead 14-7. Jaguars run­ning back Justin Ro­driguez scored on runs of 14 and 5 yards. He fin­ished with 193 yards and four TDs, adding scor­ing runs of 66 and 1 yards.

Madi­son reeled off 21 unan­swered points over­lap­ping the sec­ond and third quar­ters to break open a tie game. Run­ning back Chris­tian Her­nan­dez scored all three touch­downs, tal­ly­ing runs of 65, 1 and 33 yards. He fin­ished with 155 yards.

The Mav­er­icks went into half­time lead­ing 28-21 af­ter a wild back-and-forth open­ing 24 min­utes.

Madi­son scored 14 sec­onds into the con­test. John­son re­sponded with TDs on its next pos­ses­sions for a 14-7 lead. The Mav­er­icks replied with two scores of their own for a 21-14 ad­van­tage. The Jaguars scored to even it at 21 be­fore Madi­son scored with 2½ min­utes to take con­trol for good.

Her­nan­dez scored the first of his three scores to end the half, while Heag­gans scored on runs of 75 and 39 yards.

“Af­ter see­ing that 0-10 sea­son, we just re­ally wanted to change this pro­gram back to how it used to be,” Heag­gans said. “It was just stuck in our head. That was just our mind­set all sea­son and off­sea­son.”

Pho­tos by Marvin Pfeif­fer / Staff pho­tog­ra­pher

Madi­son’s Jamie Fer­gu­son knocks the ball away from John­son’s Justin Ro­driguez while mak­ing a tackle dur­ing the sec­ond half. Fer­gu­son and the Mav­er­icks beat the Jaguars for the first time in six years.

Madi­son's Darien Gill fol­lows a block dur­ing the sec­ond half. The Mav­er­icks rushed for 481 yards on 41 car­ries.

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