The Madison Bulldogs football team won the Class 11A football title Friday afternoon, completing a remarkable 12-0 season.
The Bulldogs beat every team in sight this year, winning all nine regular-season games. They were not easy opponents: seven of the nine teams were good enough to make the postseason playoffs.
Madison then beat three of those playoff teams by sizable margins of 21, 10 and 31 points.
And all this was from a team that was not ranked among the top five teams in Class 11A in a preseason coaches poll.
Those of us who know the coaching staff and team weren’t too worried about being ignored in a preseason poll. Sometimes that’s a better position to be in than to be highly touted.
There are lots of reasons for this extraordinary season, but we’ll focus on one that we observed: preparation. This football team was always ready to play when the ball was kicked off each game, and that’s credit to the coaches and players.
Head coach Max Hodgen is the standard-bearer for preparation. First, he doesn’t allow coaches or players to look past the game right in front of them. After the final buzzer each week, the coaches and players are singularly focused for the next six days on their next opponent.
Second, the preparation for each team is thorough. It would be easy to say we know the upcoming opponent well simply because we play them every year and we know the opposing coaching staff’s tendencies. But Hodge’s coaches look at film on the other team’s most recent games, looking for something that may have changed since the last meeting.
Then come the Monday practices, in which the players start to prepare for the next game, learning about the other team and working on improving their own skills. Practices even include the possibility of changes that may occur during the game.
We can learn a few things from this team: Don’t worry when you’re counted out early, be thorough in your preparation in whatever task lies ahead, and be prepared to adjust mid-game. We offer our congratulations to this year’s team.
— Jon M. Hunter