The unforgettable 2017 season came to an end for the Mustangs on Friday night in New Caney at the hands of West Orange.
West Orange prevailed 28-26, but it took everything out of one of the state’s best teams to silence Madisonville.
“We’re all so proud of the kids,” said Madisonville head coach Rusty Nail. “They were picked to finish third in District and to go 3-8 again in most publications. They finished off this season going toe-to-toe with a two-time defending state champion and lost two games by a combined 5 points all year. 11-2 surprised everyone.”
A win for Madisonville on Friday would’ve resulted in a trip to the Quarterfinals. The Mustangs faced far and away the toughest defense they’d see all season, but were still able to post 26 points despite 4 turnovers and less than 100 yards rushing.
“We had to be very creative since their defensive front was dominating us,” said Nail. “The turnovers were huge and allowed them points that proved to be the difference in the end.”
Three of the turnovers were interceptions from Phillips, one of which came in a last-ditch effort to try and win the game. Still, the senior signal caller posted over 150 yards through the air and tossed two touchdowns.
All of the other mistakes might’ve been forgiven if Madisonville could’ve hit a 2-point conversion late in the fourth to tie the game at 28.
Senior Kendell Moffett had just taken quarterback Ben Phillips’ pass 47-yards to cut the West Orange lead to 2. The Mustangs were trailing all night after leading 7-0 and finally had a chance to tie things up. The Mustangs put the ball in the hands of Cornelius Merchant, who has been one of the most dynamic playmakers all season long. However, Merchant had nowhere to go on a sweep play and West Orange came up with a big stop and held onto the lead for the rest of the way.
“We would love to have the 2-point conversion back,” said Nail. “We had a toss pass ready off of the sweep, but the defender never let Kasey (Williamson) off the line of scrimmage. I would love to have that one back along with a timeout. I felt like that was a key point in the game that I squandered.”
While Nail will naturally take the heat for the loss, Madisonville still had one of the best seasons in program history under his guidance. With a large group of seniors and talent on board, everything clicked for Madisonville in 2017. The seniors have instilled a winning culture into the locker room moving forward along with Nail and his coaching staff. Future Mustang squads will use 2017 as a blueprint and try to take that next step closer to a state championship run in Madisonville.