It almost seemed destined to happen. Madison and West Central clearly showed they were the two best teams in class 11A all season long. Both teams took care of business when they needed to, and West Central's only loss was to Madison Sept. 11 by the count of 28-7. Throw in the great title game played in 2013, and it was a recipe for another great game.
Madison won the opening toss and deferred, giving West Central the ball to begin the game. The Trojans immediately made it clear they intended to use their three-headed back monster of Jonah Rechtenbaugh, Jordan Lueth and Joseph Hansich to move the ball. Madison then doubled down and made it clear they knew that, forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession.
Madison didn't fare much better on their opening series, getting assessed both a holding and a false start penalty during the drive. Madison was penalized for false starts five times in the first half alone. The first quarter was largely played between the West Central 40 and Madison 10 yard lines, with neither side gaining a clear advantage, resulting in a scoreless first quarter.
The Madison defense came up big on third down again out of the quarter break, and West central lined up for a field goal but took too long and punted after a delay of game penalty.
Madison took over on their own 20, and a Micah Hansen pass that hit Mason Leighton downfield for a 37 yard gain on 3rd and 7 to give the Bulldogs a first down at West Central's 28. That pass opened the lanes for running back Brodie Frederiksen, who gained 18 yards on the next play. Two plays later, Madison capped the 8 play drive with a 9 yard touchdown pass from Hansen to Leighton. Brayden Gilbert added the extra point, and Madison had a 7-0 lead with 8:05 left in the first half.
It was a lead they carried into the halftime locker room, even though West Central threatened the goal line a few times. A fake field goal attempt fell short, and a 4th and 2 from Madison's 12 yard line fell short just before the half.
Madison took the ball to open the second half at their own 19 yard line, and on 3rd and 5, Hanson swung a quick pass to Leighton on the left side at the line of scrimmage, and 76 yards later was in the end zone for the Bulldogs' second touchdown. Gilbert's extra point made the score 14-0 with 10:36 to go in the third.
The Madison defense then kicked it up a notch on the next series and got another three-and-out, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Trojans a first down at the Madison 41. After a fumble on the ensuing play, West Central called time out facing 2nd and 12. After that time out, West Central moved the ball to the Madison 6 yard line, where the Trojans faced 4th and goal. Skinner found Lueth on the play, but he was brought down at the 2 yard line, where Madison took over on downs with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
On that drive, the Bulldogs were bailed out by two offside penalties. Frederiksen carried the load before Hansen found Leighton downfield, this time for a 44-yard touchdown pass, their third such connection of the game. After the extra point, Madison carried the resulting 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
West Central finally got on the board with 11:00 to play, capping a nice drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Dan Skinner to Rechtenbaugh. The extra point closed Madison's lead to 21-7. Madison's offense went on tilt after that slight momentum shift, overthrowing two deep passes. Madison punted, and the Trojans took over at their own 35 with 10:00 to play.
This time it was West Central getting bailed out by yellow flags, one for pass interference and another for a late hit near the goal line that set up 1st and goal at the Madison 2 yard line. It took two cracks from there Skinner to beat a Madison defender to the pylon for the Trojans' second touchdown of the fourth quarter. Noah Vettrus' extra point closed the gap to 21-14 with 7:43 to play, and the momentum had swung in the Trojans' favor.
Madison moved the ball to their own 39, but confusion and a swiftly expiring play clock resulted in the Bulldogs using their first time out of the second half with 5:29 to play. On the ensuring 3rd and 3 play, the Trojans' defense completely smashed the play for a 4-yard loss, and Madison found themselves punting again.
After another penalty, West Central had 1st and 15 from their own 20. A pass to Vettrus was broken up by a hard but legal hit from Leighton. The next pass was intercepted by Jaxon Janke. Madison fumbled the ball on the first play, but recovered for a 3-yard loss. Hansen then took off with the next snap and ran 40 yards through several defenders to get the ball to the West Central 1 yard line. Frederiksen finished the job with a 1-yard touchdown run. The extra point gave Madison a 28-14 lead with 2:45 to play.
West Central wasn't going away though. On their first play of the next drive, Skinner found Rechtenbaugh on a short crossing route, who took off up the sideline, somehow keeping himself inbounds, and ran the rest of the way to complete the 65-yard touchdown play, making the score 28-21 Madison with 2:26 left.
After a 40-yard kickoff return to the West Central 30, Madison looked stalled, and West Central had used up their time outs on defense. Madison had 4th and 9 from the West Central 29. Hansen's pass for Brady Balogh was incomplete, and West Central had one more shot with 1:07 to play and the ball at their own 29.
West Central tried their hardest, but a last-second multiple-lateral play came up well short, and Madison's first-ever football championship was theirs after falling short by one-score margins the previous two years.
Leighton was named Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player of the game, with five receptions for 169 yards and three touchdowns in the game, as well as four tackles and two pass breakups defensively.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
WEST CENTRAL 0 0 0 21- 21
MADISON 0 7 14 7- 28
RUSHING: WEST CENTRAL: Rechtenbaugh 11-49-0TD; Lueth 15-39-0; Skinner 9-23-1; Hanisch 3-12-0; Vettrus 1-4-0. MADISON: Frederiksen 24-114-1TD; Hansen 5-50-0; Leighton 1-(-5)-0.
PASSING: WEST CENTRAL: Skinner 26-40-274-2TD-1INT. MADISON: Hansen 12-18-220-3TD-0INT; J. Janke 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING: WEST CENTRAL: Vettrus 9-95-0TD; Rechtenbaugh 5-92-2TD; Swier 3-44-0TD; Lueth 8-33-0; Hanisch 1-7-0. MADISON: Leighton 5-169-3TD; J. Janke 2-16-0; Palli 2-15-0; Balogh 1-10-0; Frederiksen 1-7-0; Jaden Janke 1-3-0.