Bulldogs have high hopes for 2013 football season
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
There are high expectations for the Madison Bulldogs football team this fall due to the number of returnees.|
There are eight returnees on offense and seven on defense for Max Hodgen, who is beginning his fourth year as head coach for the Bulldogs.
Madison finished last season with a 5-4 overall record and qualified for the playoffs. West Central knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs in the first round.
Key returnees on offense include running back Rush Milne, who had 728 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns and 188 yards receiving with one touchdown last year. Milne was an all-conference performer.
Quarterback Jacob Giles in 2012 completed 80 of 167 passes for 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns and only four interceptions.
"Giles throws the ball well," said Hodgen.
Wide receiver Preston Nordling had 19 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown.
Four offensive linemen return for the Bulldogs: Jordan Unterbrunner, Tyler Currey, Bradyn Steffen and Riley Leighton.
"Our offensive line all have experience; they are athletic and they have good size," Hodgen said. "It always comes down to how well you play up front on both sides of the ball. We will need to depend on them to create running lanes for Milne and Mason Hemmer."
Fullback Blake Gusso also returns to the Bulldog lineup.
"We also need to have a balance on offense and rely on the strength of our defense to create field position and turnovers," Hodgen said.
Top players returning to the defensive side of the ball include Giles, who had 33 tackles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 12 pass breakups in 2012.
Steffen had 43 tackles and two sacks from his defensive end position in 2012.
Milne had 20 tackles and three pass breakups last season.
Currey had 58 tackles, one interception, three fumble recoveries and three sacks in 2012.
Gusso had 24 tackles, two fumble recoveries and three sacks. Nordling had 33 tackles and one interception for a touchdown.
Newcomers whom Hodgen will be counting on are Dexter Nowstrup, Johnny Monroe and Hemmer.
"This season we have the fastest defense we've played with in about 10 years, which gives us the flexibility to bring pressure and play man," said Hodgen.
Madison averaged 114 yards rushing per game in 2012 and 111 yards passing per game. The Bulldogs scored 210 points for an average of 23.3 points per game.
On defense, the Bulldogs allowed 166 yards rushing per game and 119 yards passing per game last season. Opponents scored 197 points for an average of 21.9 points per contest.
Hodgen believes that the Bulldogs had a good offseason and were ready when fall practice started.
Finding a kicker and developing the depth are major concerns for Hodgen this year.
Assisting Hodgen are Tom Milne, Mike Ricke, Darren Swenson, Zac Johnson, Joe Bundy and volunteer coach Jared Peterreins.
Hodgen said that he and the players appreciate all of the community support shown to the football program.
Madison will open the season on Friday at Pipestone. Due the extremely hot conditions, the game time has been pushed back to 7:30 instead of 7 p.m.