POCATELLO – Oh, so close.
The Coeur d’Alene Vikings came within 49 yards and seven points of winning their third consecutive Idaho 5A state football championship – and they would have been the first team to accomplish such a feat.
But Coeur d’Alene came up just short, falling to Madison 37-30 Friday evening in Holt Arena despite a furious rally late in the fourth quarter.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” said Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos. “That’s all you ask, is them to sell out and care about each other. They certainly did that. They never gave up.”
Early in the game it appeared a defensive battle was at hand as neither team was able to put together a drive. Perhaps because Madison and Coeur d’Alene field offenses that put up ridiculous numbers, the defenses have been overshadowed all season.
Those defenses came to play Friday night.
“Madison, you talk about their offense a lot, but their defense is really good,” said Coeur d’Alene junior quarterback Gunnar Amos. “We had trouble with our base running plays. It’s something you live and die on, and we died on it tonight. Give props to them, they’re great defensively. It was a physical football game.”
Finally, with 4:52 to go in the first quarter, the Vikings’ Reece Mahaffy broke free for a 33-yard touchdown.
Mahaffy finished with 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also threw a late touchdown pass.
“They had a really good defense and they didn’t miss a lot of tackles,” Mahaffy said. “We had a few big plays on them, but they definitely got the best of us a few times.”
After the Vikings’ first score, the Bobcats reeled off 27 unanswered points, taking a 21-7 lead into halftime, and appeared to be in control.
Madison’s points came via the big play. Logan Anderson, a 6-foot-4 quarterback with deceptive speed, outraced the CdA defense from 30 yards out for the Bobcats’ first touchdown.
Anderson then found Logan Lee for a 29-yard touchdown pass. Linebacker Josh Lords capped Madison’s scoring in the first half with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“(The) first quarter offensively we were a mess, and Madison is too good to do that,” Shawn Amos said. “We came back and we had our chances. We made it a good football game.”
Down 27-7 early in the second half, the Vikings began their comeback.
Kolby Dehaas took a pass 13 yards for a score, Mahaffy punched the ball in from 5 yards out, Parker Wilson hit a 28-yard field goal, and Chase Blakley caught a touchdown pass from Mahaffy. Tthe Vikings trailed just 37-30 with 24 seconds to go.
“It shows how we never gave up,” Mahaffy said. “We never dropped our heads, we kept fighting and hoping.”
CdA recovered the ensuing onside kick and had the ball on the Madison 47. A pair of completions had the Vikings on the 38, but a personal foul moved them right back to midfield.
With 3 seconds left, Amos’ final pass fell to the turf.
“We kept fighting and we put in a pretty valiant effort. These guys never gave up, so that’s a positive,” Gunnar Amos said. “But when that ball dropped on that last play, your heart just drops with it. Everything you worked for in the offseason is just gone. I really wish we could have won it for these seniors. They’re the hardest working group I’ve ever been with.”
Amos finished 24 of 37 for 300 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His prime target was Blakley, who grabbed nine balls for 96 yards and a score.
Anderson had 242 yards on 16-of-35 passing, two scores and one interception for Madison. The normally potent Bobcats pass game was held in check by Coeur d’Alene’s impressive defense.
“Our defense, they stepped up huge tonight,” Gunnar Amos said. “They made a lot of stops … We have to put it in when they give us the ball back like that. We had a good game plan coming in, they really played well with that game plan.”
The Viks (9-3) say farewell to a number of outstanding seniors.
“We’re just going to celebrate our seniors for a while,” Shawn Amos said. “They’re kind of the underdogs of the world. All they did was keep winning football games. They don’t have a lot of all-stars on that group. They’re just hard-working, team program guys. That’s why we got to where we are.”