OSWEGO — For the second time in school history, the Oswego Indians will play a second playoff game in a season.

To earn a third, Oswego must beat undefeated Madison on the road in the second round of the KSHSAA 8-Man I playoffs.

“It’ll be a tough game,” Oswego senior lineman Tristan Gray said. “If we stick to what we’re taught, it’ll be a good one. We need to respect them and know they’re a good team.” 

Madison is ranked No. 3 in the classification according to Kpreps and hasn’t had a competitive game since a Week 1, 48-24 win over Burlingame. Every matchup for the Bulldogs since has been a mercy-rule victory.

“There’s no doubt Madison should be confident,” Oswego third-year head coach Matt Fowler said. “We’ll have to put them in positions they haven’t been in before. Little things like making them punt. It’ll be more on us and how we respond to everything.” 

One of Madison’s most dangerous players is running back Hunter Engle. Only 10 times this year has Engle been tackled or pushed out of bounds on a rush.

On only 28 carries, Engle has 541 yards and 18 touchdowns.

That puts the pressure on Oswego’s defense to limit Madison’s proclivity for big gains.

“I feel my biggest role is on defense,” Oswego senior linebacker Isac Elkins said. “I have to keep everybody uplifted. I’ll need to take on the guard as hard as I can, get them weak and get low on the backs.” 

“They have a lot of good skill guys and throw the ball well too,” Fowler added. “When it comes down to it, we’ll do what we’re taught and play football from there. They’ve got great talent. But if we take on the blocks and maintain our gaps, that’s what it comes down to.” 

As for Oswego’s offense, senior quarterback Lance Teal knows it’ll take a new dynamic to find holes in a defense that has posted three shutouts.

“We’ll do some things to try and mess with their reads,” Teal said. “I’m excited. This group of seniors earned it.” 

Oswego and Madison are two of the 16 teams left in 8-Man I. It’s November football. Neither team should expect anything to come easy.

“When you get to this time of year, you have to be patient,” Fowler said. “You can’t have penalties and turnovers. You can’t inflict yourselves. If you can stay on schedule, we can go three yards at a time.” 

Madison has lost two games since the start of 2018. Oswego is a program on the rise under Fowler.

Friday’s matchup is a celebration of two teams peaking. But it’ll also be a war to see who can make the quarterfinals.

“We earn the right to play games at this time of year,” Fowler said. “Our seniors have turned this program around. They’ve come in from freshmen year being 1-8 and they’ve constantly improved. So we’re going to try and find a way to give them another week of practice.” 

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