adidas superstar pink Lofty expectations remain for Madison Prep in one tough district
Michael Roach has dealt with high expectations before but never this high at Madison Prep. Still, positive predictions are just what he expected for a program he has led in all three of its varsity seasons.
Roach’s two previous head coaching stints, both at Southern Lab, brought the same expectation every year: Challenge for district and state titles. For a school with a long and rich football tradition, those expectations were met often.
Madison Prep, on the other hand, is the new kid on the block but this new kid is learning quickly. The Chargers have a 20 man senior class and are the favorites to win their second straight District 6 2A title.
“Originally, the expectations came from me,” said Roach, who led Madison Prep to an 11 1 record in 2015, including a 10 0 regular season mark and a berth in the Division III select quarterfinals. “I wanted to come into a new program, one that was probably going to be my last stop, and prove that the methods I used were ones that worked. I took it personal.”
Nine starters return on each side of the ball, giving the Chargers enough firepower to keep things personal for their opponents. Their blend of talent and experience is a rare sight, even for a veteran coach like Roach.
“We’ve got 20 seniors coming back, which is the most I’ve had since I’ve been coaching,” he said. “Fourteen or 15 of those kids should sign (with college teams) this year.”
All district players abound, including Edwin Kleinpeter, the Chargers’ 6 foot 3 quarterback who threw for 2,700 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. The defense lost 6 2A and All Metro 3A and below MVP Malcolm Roach but returns a solid nucleus.
Linemen Bryan Jones and Troy James are expected to lead a group with four new starters, including three sophomores. Leading the team starts with the right attitude, which Roach sees in his seniors.
“Kleinpeter, Bryan Jones, Troy James these are prime examples of players who are blue collar, hard working kids,” he said. “Sometimes they call me at 7 o’clock at night saying, ‘Coach, I missed a workout. Can I get in the weight room?’ That’s the kind of kids we have. They don’t mind getting up at 5 in the morning or coming in on Saturdays.”
Hard work will be needed to hold off the challengers. Episcopal was second last season, its only loss coming to MPA. East Feliciana, Dunham and Northeast took turns beating up on another, but all showed they were capable of winning on any given Friday.
Those capabilities aren’t lost on The Dunham School coach Neil Weiner, whose team returns most of its starting linemen on offense and defense.
“Anything can happen on a Friday night,
” Weiner said. “Certainly from a coaching standpoint, they’re top notch; from a talent standpoint, they’re top notch. They’d probably have to have an off night, but I think there are three or four teams in our district that can compete with them.”
Northeast pushed Madison Prep hardest last season when it lost 21 20 at home. Like East Feliciana and Dunham, the Vikings return more starters than Episcopal. Christian Life alsois looking to take a step up with its offensive line returning intact.
“We have one of the toughest 2A districts in the state,” CLA coach Ben Palmer said. “It’s not like the district I was in at Calvary Baptist. I don’t like to use the word ‘cakewalk,’ but there wasn’t as much competition as there is here. From top to bottom, there are teams with talent, and every game counts.”
Roach agreed that the road will be difficult.
“We always seem to have a nemesis out there, but this year you’ve got Episcopal, Northeast, East Feliciana, Dunham those are quality programs that are always in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not going to be a cakewalk to win the district. Nobody paid attention to us when we started out, but now we’ve got the spotlight on us, so we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game every week.”
Q Prep receiver Lyndon Rash
How is this team handling increased expectations after an 11 1 season?
Last year we exceeded expectations, which means we’ve set the bar high this year. Every game will be a big game for our opponent, and I’m interested to see how we handle it.
With so many seniors, who are the leaders?
We’re only losing one player on offense. On defense, we’re missing four players. Malcolm Roach was a big part of our defense, he was like a coach on the field, and we’re looking for (defensive linemen) Troy James and Bryan Jones to replace what Malcolm gave us.
How has the flooding affected the team?
A few players got flooded, but it’s bringing us closer. We’re helping each other out, spending extra time with each other. It’s not time on the field, but in the community helping people out. It’s making us closer, like we’re building a bond.
What are the team goals?
The goal this year is to win the state championship, but we have to take it one game at a time. You can’t win 10 games until you win one. We want to take it one game at a time, be smart and stay away from injuries.
Christian Life coach Ben Palmer
You’ve experienced success as a player and a coach. How has that helped you prepare to coach Christian Life?
What I tell folks is that I know what it takes to win because I’ve been around it my whole life, but it’s not anything that I’ve done. I was lucky to have grown up in Katy, Texas. I was a member of a lot of state championships there. I was lucky to get the jobs I had at Evangel, Calvary Baptist and La Costa Canyon High School (near San Diego),
which was the No. 1 program in California one of the years I was there. I was lucky to be a part of some very successful programs. To come here and try to do something different would be akin to trying to fix something that isn’t broken.