Mad­docks try­ing to turn around Cougars

Am­bi­tious new head coach mak­ing most of 22-player squad

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - SPORTS - By Jeff De­wees For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Char­lie Mad­docks Jr. isn’t back­ing down from the chal­lenge. He’s meet­ing it headon.

Kutz­town’s new head football coach, 38, could have been ex­cused for flinch­ing be­fore ac­cept­ing a coach­ing job that was, frankly, fraught with is­sues.

De­spite snap­ping an epic 51-game los­ing streak in 2016 with an im­prob­a­ble three­game win­ning streak, those vic­to­ries did not salve dis­sentions on and off the field with the Cougars. Lead­ing rusher Lo­gan Bach­man trans­ferred out. Start­ing quar­ter­back Bray­den Eck de­clined to come out for what would have been his se­nior sea­son. Nearly the en­tire ros­ter, save four, has been turned over.

Into this caul­dron stepped Mad­docks, the for­mer re­ceivers coach at Lan­caster Catholic — a proud dio­cese pro­gram with a his­tory of grid­iron suc­cess. He moved his fam­ily into the Kutz­town dis­trict and brought his sons Char­lie III and Owen along to play for him. Son Char­lie, LC’s backup a year ago as a fresh­man, is the new start­ing quar­ter­back. Owen is a wide out. It is dad’s first head coach­ing gig.

“The de­ci­sion to ap­ply for the job was want­ing to be a head coach,” Mad­docks said, “hav­ing to de­sire to do this. It had to be a lo­cal job.”

The hir­ing process was a two-way street. Once he felt com­fort­able with the com­mit­ment shown by ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mad­docks dove in head-first.

“The chal­lenge of it made me ex­cited,” he said. “When I got to the in­ter­view process and met with the ad­min­is­tra­tion, I saw how thor­ough they were and how in­volved they were in the process, I was sold. Meet­ing these guys and see­ing how much they de­sired to have a suc­cess­ful pro­gram — the whole spec­trum, not just wins — that was the clincher.

“Now, ob­vi­ously, I was be­ing in­ter­viewed, but at the same I was (also in­ter­view­ing). Be­cause if they don’t help me, if they don’t give me the sup­port, it would prob­a­bly end up be­ing the same thing over and over again.”

The catch­phrase Mad­docks re­peat­edly used on the turf at An­dre Reed Sta­dium at Kutz­town Univer­sity, fol­low­ing an open­ing 47-12 loss to Up­per Perkiomen on Fri­day night, was “chang­ing the cul­ture”. Mad­docks said it with a straight-for­ward be­lief, re­flected in his eyes. He be­lieves ini­tial change comes from within, not with per­son­nel or scheme: you change the first, the lat­ter will be pos­i­tively in­flu­enced.

Fri­day night’s score may not re­flect it, but that change has al­ready taken root. Kutz­town dis­played fight on both sides of the ball for the full 48 min­utes, de­spite be­ing buried for good by a 26-point Up­per Perk out­burst in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, Mad­docks made camp manda­tory. No more shirk­ing and show­ing up. The new head man showed up with what he thought were 26 com­mits. That num­ber quickly shrunk to 22 fol­low­ing his manda­tory camp dec­la­ra­tion. A re­veal, if you will.

“I ba­si­cally said, ‘if you don’t come to sum­mer camp’ — and I had heard that was an is­sue here be­fore — it’s a four-game sus­pen­sion,’” Mad­docks said. “Now I played at Ben­salem. If you didn’t at­tend camp you didn’t play. But, you’ve got to start in­cre­men­tally.

“We had guys who didn’t want to come to camp but didn’t want to take the fourgame sus­pen­sion. I said no. When I asked the play­ers, they said they would rather lose with the 22 they had than win with four more guys. And that’s the cul­ture change. It’s what the kids have bought into.

“A lot of them are kids who had given up on football at Kutz­town. They’re com­ing back. And it’s awe­some to see.”

The numbers will have to rise mov­ing for­ward for sus­tained suc­cess and Mad­docks knows this. In the im­me­di­ate term, in or­der to nurse his 22-player squad through the sea­son, he has ad­justed scheme to per­son­nel quan­tity. The Cougars switched to a 3-4 de­fense pri­mar­ily to be able to ro­tate the trenches — all seven line­man listed on the ac­tive ros­ter go both ways. Of­fen­sively, Mad­docks prefers an up-tempo at­tack but re­al­izes a no-hud­dle would a stamina-killer. So, the Cougars are hud­dling and tak­ing their time be­tween plays.

“We needed to make ad­just­ments,” Mad­docks said. “We switched to the 3-4. I need to give them some sort of breather. Hud­dling is not what I want to run on of­fense. I’m a no­hud­dle guy. But hon­estly, we’ve spent a lot of time con­di­tion­ing, even the big guys. We con­di­tioned with weights. Ev­ery­thing I told them about con­di­tion­ing this sum­mer, they’re feel­ing it right now.”

The Cougars were able to move the ball at times in the first half against Up­per Perk, but a pair of turnovers snuffed out one scor­ing chance and gifted the other to the In­di­ans. Son Char­lie — who would have been the in­cum­bent this fall at Lan­caster Catholic — com­pleted 12 of 18 passes for 102 yards and a late score. Owen, a fresh­man, caught three of those balls for 13 yards. Sopho­more run­ning back Caleb Riegel — al­ready a load at 225 pounds — rushed for 88 hard yards on 20 totes with a score while an­chor­ing the lineback­ing corps on the other side of the ball.

De­fen­sive back Bradlee Ben­jamin had a sec­ond half in­ter­cep­tion. Tyler Fisher — one of the kids who’s re­turned to the pro­gram af­ter not play­ing a year ago — played solid de­fense from his lineback­ing spot. Drew Miller had a solid game at line­backer and wing back.

Tal­ent is there. Now, the Cougars just need more of it. Mad­docks hopes the “cul­ture of change” he’s in­sti­tut­ing helps to bump those numbers up.

“There is no ‘try’,” Mad­docks said. “We ei­ther do it or we don’t. First time I said that to the kids, you should have seen the looks on their faces.

“But now, if you ask any of those 22 kids, they be­lieve it. They be­lieve it.”

Kutz­town Football Sched­ule

Sept. 1 - vs. Up­per Perkiomen, 7 p.m. Sept. 8 - at Shenan­doah Val­ley, 7 p.m. Sept. 15 - vs. Pe­quea Val­ley, 7 p.m. Sept. 22 - at Na­tiv­ity, 7 p.m. Sept. 29 - vs. Twin Val­ley, 7 p.m. Oct. 6 - vs. Schuylkill Val­ley, 7 p.m. Oct. 13 - vs. Ham­burg, 7 p.m. Oct. 21 - at Wy­omiss­ing, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 27 - at Berks Catholic, 7 p.m. Nov. 3 - at Fleet­wood, 7 p.m.

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