Madison Academy Advances In Playoffs- Expect “War” Versus Next Opponent
MADISON- The highly anticipated and a year in the making rematch between Madison Academy and Sylvania is now reality as the two Class 3A schools will meet this Friday in round three of the AHSAA playoffs. Both advanced to this point via second-round victories to set up the rematch of what many call the greatest game in the history of Madison Academy football, dating back to 1963, as the Mustangs lost to the Rams 48-45 in overtime in a second-round playoff game in 2022.
“We know what we have to do to correct the mistakes we made last year in that game and we’re looking forward to the rematch,” said Ken Cherry, senior running back and outside linebacker for Madison Academy. “We are a better team this year as we play for each other. We are locked into the mindset this is a team effort.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Cherry rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was an 85-yard sprint in the fourth quarter, to lead the Mustangs to a 21-14 victory over fourth ranked Mars Hill Bible (10-2) out of Florence. Cherry, who is ranked No. 1 in Alabama rankings by two companies which measure actual speed on sprints during games, has been clocked at 20.89 miles per hour and is being recruited by a bevy of colleges including UAB, Samford, Austin Peay, Alabama State and Jacksonville State.
“Yes, I think last year’s disappointing end to our season has been an inspiration for this team, though we haven’t talked about it,” said fifth-year Mustangs head coach Bob Godsey. “I do know the players have had this upcoming game in their minds.”
As for the 2023 matchup between No. 2 ranked Madison Academy (12-0) and the ninth ranked Sylvania Rams (10-2) out of Region 6, Godsey knows the home game for the Mustangs at Bill Washington Stadium could be similar to a season ago. He said, “Same story, different year as they have a lot of players back from last year. They’re one year older and one year more experienced. I’ll be shocked this game will be a track meet like last year as both defenses should be good.”
“Our defense is very confident (allowing just 10 points per game) as we look at the next play is the most important,” said Cherry. “We’re going into the Sylvania game with the same mindset we’ve had all season; play hard know the mistakes we made last year and change them. There’s always room for improvement with my personal play and I feel I can handle more.”
The Rams have scored 37.4 points per game and allowed just 16.5 per game. They suffered regular season losses to Pisgah (34-40) and Fyffe (10-21). Those two teams are also in their respective Class 2A third-round playoff games this week and have a combined record of 22-2. Against Madison Academy all time, Sylvania, which is the last school alphabetically in Alabama among those starting with the letter S, are 1-2 with its only victory coming in last year’s magical contest.
The maroon and gold Mustangs have the complete package. They scored at a 50.6 points per game pace while allowed a mere 10 points per opponent with two shutouts.
Cherry was a First-Team All-State selection last season and is expected to be chosen again for 2023 as he has over 2,240 yards rushing with 30 touchdowns going into this week’s game against the Rams. “We know what we have to do,” he added.
Bill Washington Stadium is expected to be filled to capacity in what is expected to be another classic. Godsey put the game in perspective as he said, “All of our statistics for both teams leads to an absolute war this week. After all, it’s a playoff game. We’ll roll out there see what you got.”