Printed on: November 17, 2012

'Cats make their way back to the top

By Marlowe Hereford
mhereford@postregister.com

POCATELLO -- Moments after being presented with the 2012 5A state football championship trophy and banner, the members of the Madison High School football team didn't want to leave the turf of Holt Arena.

The Bobcat defense stood tall yet again in the fourth quarter to preserve a 37-30 win Friday over the two-time defending state champion Coeur d'Alene Vikings, completing a 12-0 season and taking home their first state football title since 1995. The fans who formed a sea of red behind them in the stands were deafening from field level, as was the student band.

For several minutes, the Bobcats shared embraces and words of congratulations with each other and supporters who began to make their way down to the turf -- relishing a season for the ages.

"It's amazing," said senior running back Hayden Hastings, who ran in Madison's final touchdown Friday. "This is what we worked for since Grid Kid."

Senior quarterback Logan Anderson, who completed 16 of 36 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in his final game, was just as ecstatic despite almost losing his voice from the rollercoaster win.

"I thought all of our hard work's been paying off," Anderson said of his immediate reaction when the clock hit zero. "It feels good to be a state champ."

The win unofficially makes Madison the first program to win a state football title in three different classifications. It also gave coach Mitch Buck a state title the same night that his younger brother, Blackfoot coach Stan Buck, repeated as 4A state champion with a 48-19 win over Middleton.

He commended the Bobcats for their perfect season and for the efforts of the seniors who helped make it possible.

"It's been awesome all year," Buck said. "They've wanted it more than anybody. They've been that way for a very long time. We're just glad for the moment."

The elusive blue trophy was a result of passing one of the biggest tests the Bobcats faced all season. The Bobcats extended a 21-7 halftime lead to 27-7 within the first five minutes of the second half when Anderson found Sam Baldwin for a 61-yard touchdown, but the Vikings (9-3) didn't leave quietly in a title game riddled with penalties and momentum shifts. Rather, Coeur d'Alene gave Madison a barnburner similar to last week's 45-38 semifinal win over Highland with a rally that went down to the wire.

A shootout unfolded in the fourth quarter as a 30-20 Madison lead was cut to 30-23 when a field goal attempt by Parker Wilson that caused controversy on the field was ruled good with 5:33 remaining.

Madison's Hayden Hastings raced into open field for a 41-yard touchdown and Dan Jones's extra point soared through the uprights to give the Bobcats a 37-23 cushion with 3:56 remaining. Still, the Vikings chipped away as a Kolby Dehaas' 7-yard touchdown reception and Wilson's extra point put Coeur d'Alene behind 37-30 with 29 seconds left in regulation. Coeur d'Alene looked to threaten when it recovered an onside kick, but the Madison defense batted away a Hail Mary pass by Gunnar Amos as the final three seconds expired.

"At halftime, we all talked about, 'We have a whole other half. We have to step it up,' " Anderson said of his defense. "They stepped up every game. I love these guys."

The roller-coaster win closed the curtains on the careers of the 2013 senior class that brought a state title back to a program that had won eight games from 2009 to 2011 and did not have a winning season since 2007.

"We're brothers," Hastings said. "We pushed each other to get better on the field and outside the field."