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Rematch with Cowboys starts Buff postseason

Team scored 112 points combined last meeting
On Sept. 21, two teams combined to score 112 points and put up more than 1,100 yards of total offense. It was an offense explosion for the ages and was the highest scoring game in Class 4A this season with the combined score.
   Those two teams will meet again Friday night.
   Madras and Crook County square off in another game, this one with much higher stakes, in the play-in round of the Class 4A postseason at 7 p.m. Friday night at Madras High School.
   Originally, no one in the Madras program thought the team would have another home game after their homecoming win against Estacada - a game they absolutely had to win - but as the playoff draw unfolded, it happened.
   Even with the third-place finish in the Tri-Valley Conference, the TVC's top two teams - La Salle Prep and Gladstone - received byes to the official first round of the OSAA playoffs. La Salle won the league title and ended the year No. 2 in the OSAA power ratings, but Gladstone finished the season right behind the Falcons at No. 3 in the ratings. The playoff qualifying rules say the highest ranked second-place team earns a bye with all the league champs, and Gladstone fit that bill, leaving the play-in home game for the Tri-Valley Conference open.
   Madras' power rating of 20th and league placement would suggest they hit the road for the play-in, but since Gladstone was elevated to the top group, Madras was placed in the second tier of teams as the last seed, allowing them to host Crook County, the top seed in the third tier of qualifying teams.
   "This is a big step in the right direction for the program," Madras head coach Rick Wells said. "It's nice to be at home for the first game, and it's great our community gets to have this experience, too."
   Wells said since neither team has a huge road trip to undertake in the opener, it should make the atmosphere at MHS on Friday electric.
   "This is going to be great," Wells said. "Two rival teams in the playoffs, and two communities that love football and will come out to support their teams. The atmosphere is going to be awesome."
   As far as strategy on the field, special teams were critical the last time the teams met. Devin Ceciliani returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, but Crook County speedster Marcus Greaves returned two punts for score. The Cowboys won the game, 60-52, but Wells doesn't think special teams will play that type of role in the rematch.
   "I think they know not to kick it to Devin, and we're certainly not going to kick it to Greaves," he said.
   He also doesn't think it will be a scoring fest, either.
   "I think both teams are ready for each other," Wells said. "I know we're a different team than we were earlier in the year, and I think the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will come out on top."
   Senior quarterback Steele Haugen, who had two touchdown passes in the 28-7 win against Estacada to get the Buffs in this spot, is happy his team made the postseason, but we wants to play more football past Friday night.
   "This program should be a consistent playoff team from here on out," Haugen said. "This was a huge win, but we aren't done."
   Game time is set for 7 p.m.