2018 saw the Madison Bulldogs return to the top of the Lyon County League, claiming their first league championship since 2014. The Bulldogs steamrolled through the regular season with an average margin of victory of 39.25 points. Maranatha Academy and Burlingame were the only two teams to play within ten points of Madison. The Bulldogs would bow out of the playoffs in the second round to eventual 8-Man D1 state runner-up Solomon 30-26.
Madison lost Devin Stutesman, Austin Watts, Dylan Maltbie, and Duke Beyer. All were league selections last year. The Bulldogs were youthful in 2018 and will return seven starters offensively and five starters on the defensive side of the ball. Leading the defense will be Junior Hunter Engle. 2018 saw Engle garner a unanimous 1st team LCL and honorable mention all-state after collecting 46 tackles and five sacks. Nasun Wasson, 1st team LCL, is top returner on offense after leading the team in rushing last year.
Head Coach Alex McMillian enters his fourth year at the helm with a 17-11 overall record. Joining him once again on the sidelines are assistants Brett Dannels and Dustin Stutesman. Madison will run multiple schemes on offense and will have a base 3-2 defense.
Coach McMillian answered a few questions before the Bulldogs started practice last week.
Eastern Kansas Sports: A 9-1 record last year was the most wins Madison had seen in six years. How important was it in restoring tradition at Madison?
Alex McMillian: Madison was in a dark place when I arrived in 2016. I knew they had a ton of tradition, and it was just a matter of getting them back to that point. We’ve come a long way to get to this point. The community and administration have been awesome. The kids have worked their butts off to get us back to where Madison used to be.
SEKS: A heartbreaking defeat ended the season against Solomon. Was there a certain play that has eaten at you during the off-season?
AM: Solomon was a very good football team. There wasn’t a certain play, but the crazy stat of the game is that we only ran ten offensive plays in the second half. We turned the ball over three times, and Solomon recovered an onside kick. It was definitely a tough way to go out but was very proud of what we accomplished.
SEKS: What are some goals for 2019?
AM: We hope to build from last year and make a bigger run in the postseason.
SEKS: Largest obstacle to overcome in 2019?
AM: We graduated a good group of seniors, so that will be tough to replace. We are also on the radar now, and we have a target on our back. We will see how we adjust to being the team to beat. We’re going to have to remain humble and hungry each and every week.
SEKS: Biggest strength coming into this season?
AM: We have a lot of experience coming back, and our Junior Varsity did well last year. I also think we will be more athletic as a team this year, with good speed.
SEKS: Any individuals that stood out during summer camp/workout programs?
AM: We had a lot of guys go to camps this summer. Everywhere from KSU, Pitt St, Jake Sharp Performance, and USA football. Those camps helped them get better on the field and in the weight room.
SEKS: Game on the schedule you are most looking forward to?
AM: Maranatha will be solid again this year, so that’s the first one I’m looking forward to. Burlingame is always a fun one with a big-game atmosphere.
SEKS: What will define 2019 as a successful season?
AM: The biggest things we are focusing on this year are two-point conversions and taking care of the football. One of the biggest reasons for our success last year, as we believed in one another and trusted each other as long as we continue to do that we will always have a chance.
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Thanks to Coach McMillian for taking the time to answer our questions. Good Luck to the Bulldogs in 2019.