Everyone in Madisonville is raving about the Mustangs, who spent Thanksgiving week practicing for a playoff game for the first time since 2017.
Head football coach Russell Urbantke says he has had parents and members of the community who have reached out to him asking what they can do for the team. Players say they heard about this week’s game from everyone in town.
And even though it’s Thanksgiving week, the Mustangs throw a farewell party for the team on Friday afternoon.
“I’m really excited,” said Madisonville kicker Alex Torres. “My friends are all talking about it. We hear about it everywhere. It’s a lot of intensity. I look forward to it.”
Madisonville (8-4) will take on Silsbee (12-0) in the Spring Class 4A Division II regional playoffs at Planet Ford Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
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“It feels great to be able to train with my brothers and enjoy the atmosphere with my brothers, especially during the Thanksgiving break,” said Madisonville linebacker Jeramiah Burns. “Since my sophomore year when we went to the first round but lost to China Spring, I’ve never experienced that. It is a good feeling.”
The Mustangs already caused a stir in the playoffs with last week’s surprising 9-3 win over Bellville.
Urbantke credits Madisonville’s 61-14 regular-season loss to Waco Connally as a turning point. The game against Waco Connally was for the district championship and was Madisonville’s last home game of the season.
“Ever since that game, we felt like we had to prove ourselves to people because we really weren’t,” said Urbantke. “I think we had about six turnovers that night and that’s just not Mustang football. We had a heartfelt chat as a team after Waco Connally week and boy did we get back up and come back and finish the season with a tough game at Salado and we carried that momentum straight into the playoffs.”
Madisonville defeated La Grange 41-21 in the bi-district round two weeks ago and then sent shockwaves via 4A-II by with the district win over previously undefeated Bellville (11-1).
“There were a few times when I definitely had the feeling that my heart was beating out of my chest,” laughed Urbantke when asked about last week’s win. “I trusted the players. I trusted our kicker, trusted the defense, trusted our offense. I knew we had it in us. Our defender, coach [Heath] Brittain, the defensive coordinator and his boys did a great job planning that slot-T offensive that Bellville runs so well. For us to keep them at three points, someone who averaged over 30 points a game, and for us to keep them at three, man, that was an excellent performance by everyone on the defensive side of the ball.
Now the Mustangs turn their attention to another undefeated team in Silsbee and say they’re ready to slay another dragon.
“It gives me a lot of confidence because I wouldn’t say we’re the best, but I know our defense and our team, the talent we have and I feel like we’re up there with these top teams can be in 4A in our division,” Burns said.
The plan for Friday is simple.
“Fight and never give up,” said Madisonville wide receiver/cornerback Lorenzo Johnson.