The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

November 23, 2013

A Vince Peluso column: No shame in this one

MENTOR — All good things must come to an end.

The Madison Blue Streaks football team learned that the hard way Friday night when they ran into a Cleveland Glenville team in a Division II, Region 3 final that had too much size and speed for them to handle

The result — Tarblooders 40, Blue Streaks 7.

It was an abrupt and disappointing end to an otherwise historic season.

You didn’t need to see a Madison game or know much about football to know what coach Tim Willis’ group accomplished.

After a Week 7 loss at South, the Blue Streaks rattled off three consecutive shutouts to close out the season and take a share of the Premier Athletic Conference title.

Madison went back to South in the first round of the Division II state playoffs and stunned the Rebels, 42-14.

The Blue Streaks followed that with a thrilling upset of Brecksville-Broadview Heights, 21-20.

Five straight wins, a ticket to a regional final, one of only eight teams left standing in the state, the claim as the best team in school history; not too hard to realize the significance of those accomplishments.

“It’s been fun, it’s been great for Madison, it’s been great for our community,” Willis said. “They’re great kids. They’ll do anything for you. It’s always hard when it finally ends and I don’t think these kids wanted it to end tonight. It just happens.

“Some team’s gotta win, some team’s gotta lose.”

But, in a day and age when modern football has gone from a simple game to a complex one with playbooks as thick as dictionaries and play names so long and confusing everyone on the field needs a wrist band to remember it, Madison showed you can win by playing simple, fundamental football.

This, perhaps, might be the Blue Streaks’ most impressive accomplishment.

Willis admitted he felt his team out-thought itself in its loss to South. It lost its identity and tried to be something it wasn’t.

Not after that, though.

No one on Madison wears a quarterback wrist band.

While the Blue Streaks effectively used the wildcat formation during their run, they didn’t overcomplicate it.

For the most part, it was Brandon Davis off right tackle, Brandon Davis off left tackle.

Essentially, the Blue Streaks told teams, “We’re running — try and stop us.”

For five straight weeks, no one could.

In a game that’s dominated by the spread formation, thousands of different plays, smoke and mirrors and flinging the ball over the field, Madison methodically moved down the field on offense.

The trickiest thing it often did was a counter trap play to Ricky Simcic after faking a toss to Davis.

Anybody remember the counter trap? Not sure if that play is in any playbook on Madden 2014 for XBox, which sadly is the basis of knowledge of football for many in the 21st century.

Content to consistently run the ball for 3 to 5 yards per play, the Blue Streaks didn’t look to score in seconds, but rather minutes.

The PAC co-champs realized the key to a great defense is keeping the other team’s offense off the field.

In its purest form, football is running and tackling.

At a time when that concept seems to be forgotten, the 2013 Blue Streaks reminded us all of it.

There was no scheme that was going to defeat Glenville on Friday night.

At the end of the day, football is largely about matchups.

Glenville is an awful matchup for Madison.

When a team’s identity is power football and it’s up against a team with more size and power, well the results are what happened Friday night at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium in Mentor.

“Size was definitely… They were bigger than us on both sides of the line,” Willis said. “On defense, our biggest guy weighs 190 pounds. You saw what they have. I don’t have to tell you.”

What Glenville has is a team littered with Division I college prospects.

All good things must come to an end.

Still, anyone who got a chance to go on this ride with Madison should be happy to see a team in the modern age of football win playing with a simple, fundamentally sound style.

What a novel idea.

Peluso a sports writer for the Star Beacon. Reach him at vpeluso@starbeacon.com.

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