The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 23, 2013

Blue Streaks earned every bit of it

For the Star Beacon

MENTOR — All throughout the playoffs, there was a motto that permeated the entire community of Madison.

One Town.

One Team.

One Goal.

The goal — an Ohio Division II state football championship — fell short to a bigger and faster Glenville team, 40-7, at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium Friday night.

The legacy of what this team accomplished on the field this year, however, will be talked about for years.

But, perhaps the most significant contribution from this run has only begun to be written.

Being a Madison resident for the past 12 years, I have witnessed many comments from residents feeling as if Madison often gets overlooked.

Much of that could be attributed to the lack of chain restaurants in town. Some might point to the slow development along the lakefront or off of Interstate 90. And some could be attributed to the division in common purpose between the two governments (Madison Village and Madison Township) that run the town.

Madison, like many communities, is constantly faced with the influx of people out of the cities and into the suburbs. It was evident Friday night as the visiting Madison was given the home side to sit on, while No. 1 seeded Glenville and its smaller following sat on the other side. In short, how can you achieve growth without losing that small-town feel?

But, no matter what disputes take place on where the town should be headed, Madison has many solid things to hold its hat on.

It is a community that is filled with people who look out for each other. It has passionate people who work hard. It supports local business. And, despite state budget cuts that have cut many teaching positions, the school system has achieved the State of Ohio’s highest possible rating the last two years.

And, of course, it is a town that loves it sports – most particularly its football.

 As superintendent Roger Goudy has often said, “Madison is one of the best-kept secrets around.”

The 2013 Blue Streaks football team has helped bring the town notoriety. It has brought a sense of unity, and despite the lopsided loss to the Tarblooders, it has shown that it can run shoulders with the very best.

As a tearful senior quarterback Austin Burkholder, realizing it was the last high school football game, said, “I just hope this team is remembered forever and the efforts this team has put forward. We worked hard and definitely earned it.”

From senior linebacker Bo Ransom, “I gotta say, this community needs to look forward to the next several years. Those sophomores, they are good too. They just need to go along for the ride.”

And from an emotional Madison coach Tim Willis after the game. “I hope as a football program that we can build off it. It was good for the community to see that if you work hard and take care of the little things that we can get here. It was fun. What it means for our community? It means a lot. They love football, they love the sport of football, and I loving coaching at Madison. Hopefully, we can continue to be successful.”

School administrators, parents, teachers and community members have praised the character of the players on this year’s team. Willis has continually praised the leadership of his seniors.

None of that was more evident than when senior fullback Ben Bruening suffered a season-ending and near life-threatening injury late in the season against Lakeside. The team and entire community showed care for their beloved teammate and his family.

Bruening’s injury was a rallying cry for this team during this playoff run for sure. At a pep rally a couple weeks ago, senior Jared Yoe quoted something that has been on posters all around town:

“If you are playing for something, you’re hard to beat. If you’re playing for somebody, you’re unstoppable.”

Well, Glenville did end up stopping Madison’s 2013 season. But, the spirit this team has shown will live on.

“I think this made a lot of people feel good about themselves,” Goudy said. “In these tough economic times and times where people are having trouble, I think it is great when the football program like this can bring a whole city to rise and celebrate their success. I don’t think, by no means, losing today changes that, because this team went deeper than any team in Madison in the playoffs. Every kid out there should feel proud, not only for what they did for this team, but the entire community.

He also thinks this success will spill over into other areas.

“Absolutely, it will. You see it in the schools. I think you’ll see it in the program in future years.

“And, now they believe!”

Negin is a freelance writer from Madison.