John Brandi 9 p.m., Sept. 17
Division IV: Valley Center vs Madison
Madison receiver Kevon Mitchell hauls in a pass over Valley Center defensive back Nico Carrasco
Warhawks upset Jaguars to capture first ever section title
QUALCOMM STADIUM – For the first time in school history, Madison has a football championship to celebrate. The 3-seed Warhawks used their speed to knock off top-seed Valley Center 40-14 in the Division IV finals on Friday.
“We were ready for this. We were the underdogs and we just came in and gave it to them,” said Madison receiver Jeremy Hutchison. “It feels amazing.”
Madison (12-1) broke open a 7-7 game just before half when Hutchison took a screen pass from quarterback Chase Knox and ran 71 yards for a touchdown, evading numerous Valley Center tacklers along the way. That score gave the Warhawks the lead and momentum headed into the half.
“I just read the defense, made a few people miss and everybody blocked for me and just got me in the endzone,” Hutchison said.
After Valley Center punted to open the second half, Madison’s offense picked up right where it left off, with Knox finding Kevon Mitchell for an 18-yard score. Knox finished the game 20-for-32 for 370 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“They opted to take away the run and we were able to pass it,” Knox said. “Our line was blocking awesome, too.”
Mitchell intercepted a pass from Valley Center quarterback Beau Reilly on the next drive and Madison needed only two plays to find the endzone again. After a long pass down to the Jaguars’ two-yard line, Hutchison punched the ball in from the wildcat formation to make it 27-7 with 6:42 left in the third quarter.
“We have five guys on that field that can score from anywhere on the field,” said Madison head coach Rick Jackson. “We live and die by the big plays and we understand that. Today it worked out for us.”
Defensively, Madison kept Valley Center running back Travis Bernard in check and forced the Jaguars to pass. The Warhawks limited Valley Center (12-1) to 185 yards rushing for the game and held the Jaguars to their lowest point total of the season.
“The defense is really the core of our team. When people look at us on the defensive side people think they can pound on us, run on us and do whatever because we’re undersized,” Jackson said. “But we have guys that are just really good football players.”
Ahead by 19 late in the fourth quarter, Mitchell punctuated Madison’s first ever section title by returning a Valley Center onside kick attempt for a touchdown. The Warhawks have only made one previous title appearance in the 48-year history of their school, losing to Valley Center in 2008.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s for everyone and it’s a fantastic deal,” Jackson said. “We felt we were good enough before and things just didn’t fall our way.”
By upsetting a Valley Center team that had the inside track to the Division III State Bowl, Madison now finds itself in the state bowl discussion. The Warhawks have won nine games in a row.
“That would be awesome, but it wouldn’t break my heart one way or another,” Jackson said.