Wells gets first win as head football coach
It's been a long time since Madras High School enjoyed a football victory like it did Sept. 9 against visiting La Pine.
The White Buffalos forced nine La Pine turnovers and junior running back Joe Hisatake rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns during a 38-0 Class 4A nonconference victory over the Hawks, giving Madras season-opening victories in consecutive years for the first time since 1996-1997.
"The line did the work and I just reacted," said Hisatake, who had touchdown runs of 8, 65 and 10 yards. "This is a new year and the guys up front are working hard."
Madras has not held a team scoreless since Nov. 3, 2006, when the White Buffalos handed Crook County a 59-0 loss.
"I get to live my dream right now," said MHS first-year head coach Rick Wells, who earned his first-ever head coaching victory in his first attempt. "Our defense is amazing and every time we needed our defense to make a play, they did."
Madras, which has won a total of three games over the past three seasons, played nearly flawless football defensively.
"Our defense is the heart of our team," Wells said. "Yes, we scored 38 points and it looks cool, but we have a lot of work to do and areas to improve."
Madras wasted little time setting the tone in the ball game. Senior quarterback Andrew McConnell tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Mitchell with 6:59 left in the first quarter, and on the Hawks' ensuing possession, senior defensive end Travis Williams stripped the football from La Pine's Deion Mock and rumbled into the end zone from 37 yards out for a 12-0 lead.
"Once we started daily doubles and I saw the commitment level, I knew this team could be special," said senior captain Erik Quintana, who also had a fumble recovery in the game. "Travis is a beast and he set the tone with that huge play."
Madras' defense was quite stingy. The White Buffalos forced two turnovers and allowed 60 yards of total offense in the first half -- 33 of which came on one pass play.
The White Buffalos' defense was even more aggressive in the second half, forcing seven turnovers. Devin Ceciliani had two interceptions, Sloan Bush, Jordan Brown, Steele Haugen and Mitchell each had an interception, and Hisatake had a fumble recovery.
"We have a lot of returning players on defense and we like to get after it," Quintana said. "We have a lot of confidence on defense."
With the Madras defense dominating, the White Buffalos backfield went to work.
Leading 12-0 in the second quarter, Hisatake was bottled up on the left side of the field, but he reversed the field and scored from eight yards out to make the game 18-0 with 10:15 to play in the first half. He later made the score 23-0 on a 65-yard touchdown run with 7:38 left in the third quarter.
Brown also found the end zone. The senior running back bulled his way in from three yards out with 1:28 remaining in the third quarter. The White Buffs converted the two-point conversion on a Brown run and led 32-0.
"We have two fantastic tail backs that flat out run hard," Wells said. "I couldn't ask anything more of them."
Hisatake put the icing on the cake to his performance with 6:12 left in the ball game with a 10-yard touchdown run.
"Offensively, we have to clean up a lot of things," Wells said. "We have been piecing our line together, and hopefully, we can get healthy and figure it out."
Madras visits Sisters (0-2 overall) at 7 p.m. Sept. 16. The game will be unique because players will face last year's head coach Clyde Powell.
"We have to beat Powell," Brown said with a laugh. "We will have fun with it, but our focus is beating Sisters and keeping this going."
McConnell finished with 150 yards and one interception.
"We came out and wanted to win," McConnell said. "We know we have a lot of things to fix, but it felt good to put 38 points on the board."
Notes: The last time Madras scored over 35 points in a game was Sept. 28, 2007, when the White Buffalos defeated South Umpqua 47-14. Madras scored a total of 34 points the entire season in 2008.