MADISON, NJ – The Madison High School football team is not accustomed to average seasons.
A 5-5 campaign in 2017 is considered a down year for a program that has gone undefeated four times since 2010, has 10 sectional titles to its name, has a .733 playoff winning percentage and has not seen a losing season since 2008.
After not qualifying for the state playoffs in 2017, Madison is back to what brought it such great success over the last decade.
“Nothing changes for us,” said Madison head coach Chris Kubik, who is entering his 12th year at the helm. “We approach every season the same way – whether we’re 5-5 or 12-0. You can’t win every game; you can’t win every year. Nothing has changed for us with our mindset. We’re going to go after another title and we’ll count out the wins at the end.”
While the Dodgers may be a little hungrier after their .500 mark last season, the team will need to adjust after losing a good portion of its roster.
While some may look at youth as a negative thing, Kubik relishes in guys taking advantage of their opportunities.
“I think we’ll be ready to compete,” he said. “It’s opportunities for people. Every high school team is young, that’s just how it is. We just have to replace people. We’ve done it year in and year out in the past, and most of the time we’re successful with it. I’m hoping we do that again.”
One guy who is experienced and brings in that senior leadership is captain running back/defensive back Matt Mulcahy.
Mulcahy will be one of the main weapons in the backfield for the Dodgers this season. He’s ready to encourage everyone and bring the team back to the winning side of things.
“We’re coming off a down year and a lot of teams can carry that into next year, but that’s not how we look at it,” Mulcahy said. “Our goal is to get to the top again. No matter how many players we have, big roster or small, it’s still the same goal.”
Madison is using the “next man up” theme in camp early on. While the coaching staff is still determining who will be starters and things of that nature, the Dodgers will need production from their younger guys.
“We’ve lost a lot of kids – whether it was seniors last year or even seniors that would have played this year – we’ve lost a lot so far,” Mulcahy added. “We’ve had a lot of kids go down or quit this week, so the next man up is what it is. We have a lot of sophomores playing right now, and they’re doing well so far.”
Fellow captain Brendan Quinn said the biggest task is motivating people.
“We just want to keep everyone in a positive attitude,” he said. “We have a lot of sophomores playing. Sophomores need confidence and they can play as well as the seniors.”
Madison will play five of its eight regular-season games at home. The Dodgers open at home against Mountain Lakes on Sept. 15 before back-to-back home games with Hackettstown and Bernards. Chatham is the team’s first road game on Sept. 29 before two games at home with Parsippany Hills and Lenape Valley.
Madison closes out the regular season with away games at Hanover Park and Newton in late October.
Madison concluded its Thanksgiving series with Millburn last year. Madison won the finale, 13-7, and pushed the all-time record in the series to 52-28-5.
The Dodgers will have three scrimmages prior to the season opener.
“We’ll start to get a feel for what we’re about,” Kubik said. “We’ll keep tweaking the lineup until we’re all set and we’ll get to Mountain Lakes week.”