Game of the Week: #1 Madison at #2 Lebo
By Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 14, 2011 - 12:08 AM
To say the community of Lebo is excited about Friday night’s game against Madison would be an understatement.
“Around the town, you’ve heard nothing other than talk about Madison for the past couple of weeks now,” Lebo coach Troy McArthur said.
“I’ve only heard about the past, but I imagine Lebo is going to be a hopping town Friday night. When I got to school Thursday morning, there were already seven cars parked out at the field. There was one that already parked out there (Wednesday) night at practice.”
There is plenty of reason for the community to be buzzing.
Friday night’s tilt pits 8-Man Division I’s top two ranked teams in the state with the No. 1 Madison Bulldogs traveling to face the No. 2 Lebo Wolves for the Kpreps.com statewide Game of the Week.
But that’s not all.
The battle of unbeatens will decide the Lyon County League champion, and the winner will be in the driver’s seat to win District 3.
Plus, the Wolves look to settle the score against the defending state champion Bulldogs as Madison handed Lebo its only two losses – once in district and once in the state semifinals -- of the 2010 season.
“Through the years, we’ve developed a pretty good rivalry with Lebo,” Madison coach Fred McClain said.
“We know Lebo will be playing with a lot of emotion. They’ll have the revenge factor on their side. This is a big game. I told our players that if you can’t get motivated this week, then you’re not a football player.”
No motivational tricks are required for Lebo’s players either.
“A lot of the players have been asking, ‘Why can’t it be Friday?’” McArthur said. “They can’t wait for it to get here. They’re ready. They’re very motivated. Now, they need to come out and take care of business.”
The task is a tall order for Lebo and Madison as it will no doubt be the toughest game of the season thus far for both teams. The Wolves and Bulldogs have both cruised to 6-0 records with little opposition. Lebo has scored at least 36 points in every game and has posted shutouts in its past three outings. Madison has scored no less than 46 points and has tallied four shutouts.
The Wolves boast a lot of talented skill players and have been able to stay fairly balanced between the run and pass. Senior quarterback Trevor White has passed for 664 yards with 10 TDs and no interceptions, while leading the team in rushing with 390 yards.
One of the reasons White is so effective is his ability to make the correct reads on the option.
“White runs the options about as good as we’ve seen over the years,” McClain said. “Our D-ends will have to do a good job of not biting on that dive. Some teams run the option and call the pitch or the dive in the huddle. They run a true read option, and he does a good job with it.”
Lebo’s main running backs include Austin Holmes, who has rushed for about 360 yards, Walker Davies and fullback Sam Strawder. Holmes and Strawder are expected to be 100 percent after being injured in recent weeks.
When White throws the ball, he often looks toward tight end Thadd Barker (319 yards) or wide receiver Tyson Robke (269 yards).
Blake Davies is effective as a pulling guard on the offensive line and plays with a “motor” from his linebacker position.
McArthur, who took over the program this year after 25-year head coach Butch Jones retired, said he was fortunate to enter a situation with such talent and leadership from his 11 seniors.
“I’ve got a very good foundation,” said McArthur, who previously served as an assistant coach at Coffeyville, Shawnee Heights and Jefferson West. “Almost all of my starters are seniors. A lot of the kids had varsity time last years. The experience is there. The dedication and desire is there.”
The same goes for the Bulldogs.
Madison did lose several starters from last year’s state title team, but the hunger to win and many of the crucial pieces remain.
Those pieces include star running back Kole Schankie, who rushed for 1,902 yards and 52 TDs in 2010. A little shy of that pace so far, Schankie has still ran for 709 yards and 23 TDs on only 54 carries.
There’s no doubt he will be a focal point as Lebo gameplans for Madison’s 4-back unbalanced offense that includes a lot of misdirection.
“Schankie does a great job running the ball and catching out of the backfield,” McArthur said. “They run quite a bit of play-action and bring him out into the flat. They have a lot of good, quality players, but Schankie is probably the key.”
Schankie also is big on defense with six interceptions and three sacks from his defensive back position.
However, one of the things that makes Madison so tough is that Schankie isn’t the only player who can hurt you. Senior quarterback Collin Kile has completed an extremely efficient 22-of-30 passes for 504 yards with 12 touchdowns and no picks. As a team, the Bulldogs have rushed for 1,444 yards for an amazing 12 yards per carry. The 6-1, 212-pound tight end Bubba Smith offers a strong blocker and a big target in the passing game.
Defensively, Kile has three sacks from his defensive end position and cornerback Tanner Bybee has recorded three interceptions.
But all of the stats for both teams are in the past. The difference could come down to which team does a better job of responding to the big-game atmosphere and is able to execute in the key moments.
Both coaches know they will need their players’ best effort in order to win.
“This is what high school football is all about,” McClain said. “I think it will be standing-room only. It should be very exciting.”