After two hard-fought wins to open the season, Madison Central is being rewarded with another tough match up in week three.
On September 18, the Jaguars (2-0, 0-0) travel to Brandon to take on the Bulldogs.
The game will be the last game before Madison Central opens conference play against Clinton the following week.
Prior to Brandon, Big Blue took on the Cougars of Northwest Rankin and the Pirates of Pearl.
Head coach Anthony Hart said tough games early on in the year get the Jags ready for the equally tough conference match-ups later in the season. The Jags’ first conference test is against Class 6A Region 2 rival Clinton on September 25.
Clinton opened the season with a 30-7 win against Brandon.
“We play all four of the big metro schools in a row to start the season,” Hart said. “We do that because it makes us better on the other end.”
Despite an 0-2 start, history shows Brandon could prove to be the toughest challenge for Madison so far this year.
Since 2013, the teams have been pretty evenly matched, with Madison Central holding a four game to three lead over their Rankin County rival.
On the field, Big Blue has outscored the Bulldogs 127 to 112, with four of seven games played being decided by a touchdown and extra point.
Madison Central comes into the game with a strong defense but was still trying to get a footing on the other side of the ball.
“We played a new quarterback and new offensive line and all new receivers,” Hart said. “Basically, on offense we’re starting over and we’re trying to feel our way to what we’re good at right now.
“That will change each week, but we’ve got a lot of inexperience here.”
The Jags’ ground game is already showing promise. In week one, senior quarterback Tate Collins carried the ball for 57 yards and two touchdowns, while senior running back Duke Arnold put up 105 yards on the ground, Hart said.
Making room for the ground game up front is senior returning starter Cam Richardson. The 6’4,” 310-pound center and guard is the leader of the offensive line, and is being helped by seniors Braxton Bolden, Tyler Cresap and Chandler Welgos, and junior Daz Galloway.
While inexperienced on offense, the Jaguars are loaded on defense and special teams.
Senior Jackson Mize put up strong numbers in his season debut against Northwest, notching 74 yards on kickoff returns and 55 yards on punt returns, giving the Jaguars good field position.
And on defense, the Big Blue offense allowed 274 yards passing, but picked off two interceptions and held the Cougar ground attack to 109 yards.
Seniors Creek Robertson and Dalton Stevens did their parts, with each recording 14 tackles and an interception in the game. Stevens also notched a quarterback hurry.
Meanwhile, senior Joseph Perryman put up 12 tackles, and notched a fumble recovery, a quarterback hurry and a sack, Maxpreps.com states.
“Defensively, in the second half we did a great job,” Hart said. “We have a lot of guys coming back, so we expect to be good over there.”
Hart said the challenge so far has been stopping the big plays.
“We gave up three long plays. Other than that, they did not do a lot against us offensively,” he said. “We have to control those big plays, because they resulted in touchdowns.”
The Jaguars will take on Brandon High School on 7 p.m., Friday, September 18. The game is an away game.
Jaguars’ Keys to Victory:
Stop big plays: Three big plays resulted in touchdowns for Northwest Rankin, including 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Be the wall, O-Line: Madison’s offensive line is young. Step up to give your quarterback, receivers and runners time to make plays.
At a Glance:
Class/Division: Class 6A, Region 2 (MHSAA)
Head Coach: Anthony Hart
Assistant Coaches: Dusty Finley, Mike Hendershot, Nic Griffin, Mike Davis,
2019 Record 9-3