MADISON — One of the most storied seasons in Oswego Indians history came to an abrupt end on Friday night. The Madison Bulldogs established its dominance in the second round of the KSHSAA 8-Man I playoffs, beating Oswego 60-0 in a game that ended at halftime.
Madison went to work immediately, scoring touchdowns on three of its first four offensive plays.
“They had a great gameplan,” Oswego head coach Matt Fowler said. “They found some areas that they could attack and did a great job with that. They played very well and all I can do is tip them my cap.”
Oswego also had some self-inflicted wounds with five lost fumbles and three penalties charged against the Indians. Madison took two fumbles back for touchdowns.
“As the level of competition ramps up,” Fowler said, “that makes things tough. They’re obviously very good on defense. So sometimes you feel like you have to press a little harder than what you’re capable of. I don’t believe it was from a lack of effort or focus. Sometimes you get going faster than you need to and mistakes happen.”
Oswego managed just 51 yards of total offense while Madison amassed 78 rushing yards on 12 carries and 111 passing yards on five completions.
The loss brought Oswego’s record to 8-2 to end the season. The 2020 campaign for the Indians included a Three Rivers League title and the school’s second-ever playoff victory.
Fowler, in his third year as head coach at Oswego after constructing one of the state’s 8-Man powers at Spearville, credits a senior class that went 1-8 in 11-man football as freshmen for turning the tide of the program. Those seniors included Isac Elkins, Lance Teal, Isaac Elliott, Mayson Mills and Tristan Gray.
“They have grown up a lot and matured a lot mentally,” Fowler said. “They put in a tremendous amount of work. They bought into the things we taught and became teachers for the younger kids. It came down to hard work, maturity, belief and buy-in.
“Anything we do going forward will stand on their shoulders as we continue to grow.”
While this year was unquestionably one of the most successful ever in Oswego history, Fowler still has visions of taking the program even further.
“The answer is one day at a time,” Fowler said, “all year round. It’s not necessarily football stuff. We have to work on the mentality and get better physically. It’s everything that has to continue to improve. Weight room attendance, even coaching. We have to improve and I think we will.”
Oswego also played eight games — the Indians got two wins through non-COVID-19 related forfeits in the regular season — without having to cancel a single one due to the pandemic.
“I don’t know if I feel pride or anything but blessed for the opportunity,” Fowler said. “There’s teams that have done everything the right way and still the virus found its way in. We have done a good job of controlling some things, but we’ve really been blessed that we haven’t had it hit us.”
Going into the offseason, Fowler will continue to sew the seeds of an 8-Man program that hopes to continue to progress toward contender status.
“The biggest emphasis will be getting stronger and faster,” Fowler said. “We’ll be counting heavily on sophomores and juniors from this season. So we’re trying to get those guys as physically ready and mentally tough.”
As for Madison, it remained undefeated at 10-0. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 3 in the class by Kpreps, will face undefeated Canton-Galva in the quarterfinals next week on the road.
“They’re going to be a state champion contender,” Fowler said. “They have a tremendous shot. There’s several other great teams to get through, but they’re definitely one of them that has a chance.”
Madison 60, Oswego 0
Madison: 40 20 — 60
Oswego: 0 0 — 0
MA: Hunter Engle 30-yard run, 9:18, 8-0
MA: Casey Helm 14-yard to Ryan Wolgram, 7:50, 16-0
MA: Helm 63-yard pass to Brome Rayburn, 6:03, 24-0
MA: Engle 1-yard run, 1:45, 32-0
MA: Wolgram 7-yard run, 0:08, 40-0
MA: Engle 62-yard fumble return, 8:48, 46-0
MA: Isaac Miser fumble return, 8:22, 54-0
MA: Tristan Smith 26-yard run, 4:02, 60-0