I have come to the conclusion that the Madonna Blue Dons and Indianapolis Colts have a lot in common.
The Colts are being picked each week to lose despite being undefeated.
The same was said about Madonna ... maybe not each week, but the Blue Dons got no love when it came time to be tested.
Bridgeport will get them this year.
Catholic Central will let 'em have it.
They'll lose on the road at Clay-Battelle.
Tucker County's stud quarterback will run all over them.
Don't think so.
Wheeling Central's schedule is tougher than Madonna and so are its players.
Man will score on them at will.
I am not really sure why, on a weekly basis, people were doubting the Blue Dons.
Steubenville Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia has said for years he does schedule a 10-week football season to win a bar fight.
He does what he thinks is best for his team.
Why can't that be the same for coach Bob Kramer at Madonna.
Your schedule is your schedule because it is in the best interest of your program.
Kramer has not won 102 games in 12 years by accident.
That's an amazing feat, considering he went door-to-door (or classroom-to-classroom) to field a team.
He's never had a losing season.
Any other football coach who has been around for more than 10 years say that?
Madonna had doubters each week. Yes, those folks were on the outside of the program looking in, but why can't people just see that good is good and Madonna was really good.
You don't win 14 games in 14 tries because the other team wants you to.
You don't allow 45 points in 14 games because the other team chooses not to score.
You don't allow more than eight points in any game by accident.
You don't give up six touchdowns in a season - one every nine-plus quarters - because the guys on offense are utterly inefficient.
You don't allow 3.1 points a game without hard work and sweat. That doesn't happen on a whim. Your defense isn't ranked No. 1 in West Virginia in all classifications because people like your coach.
You earn all those things.
Can you imagine if South Charleston's defense had produced the same numbers as Madonna?
That defense would have been the best in the world because the Black Eagles are Class AAA and Madonna isn't.
I said over and over and over that Madonna was good but people always had a reason why the Blue Dons wouldn't go 14-0 and wouldn't win a state championship, which they did with a 27-7 triumph over Man Saturday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"Look at their schedule" was frequently said by many.
"They didn't play anybody" was also mentioned at least 1,000 times.
People have said that about Big Red for years.
Last time I checked, Big Red has a pretty good football program.
Why can't it be the same with Madonna?
"Wheeling Central beat Martins Ferry and Madonna can't beat Martins Ferry so Wheeling Central will whip Madonna."
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think a regular season game has any bearing on a state semifinal game.
I read the message boards and far too many people gave Madonna very little respect all year.
No. 1 in the state with a defense that hates to give up touchdowns, let alone a first down, and people were always finding reasons to say the Blue Dons couldn't win.
I do have to give the Man players and fans a lot of respect Saturday night. The crowd was large and loud and at least three times bigger than the pathetic turnout by the South Charleston fans.
The Hillbillies' defense didn't exactly roll over and let the Blue Dons do whatever they wanted.
But, bottom line, Madonna was the better team for the 14th time in 14 chances.
That is not an easy thing to do.
Saturday's game was over, in my opinion, when Connor Arlia took Man's punt and went 70 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game (ask Rob Metzger, I called than one before the third down plan was run).
All Madonna's defense needed was a 7-0 lead and it would take care of business.
And, it did.
The Blue Dons got the Hillbillies out of their game plan early. Man threw the ball a little less than nine times a game and threw it three times that Saturday.
The Hillbillies averaged 43 rushes and 266 yards a game, averaging 6.2 yards an attempt.
Madonna allowed them 70 yards on 29 carries, a 2.4 average.
That's not the first time Madonna's defense shut down the run.
It happened 13 times before that.
A new attitude
Congratulations to the Brooke football team for a great first season under coach Tom Bruney.
The 28-7 loss to South Charleston Saturday afternoon at Wheeling Island Stadium for the West Virginia Class AAA state championship was the Bruins' first of the year.
The 13-1 season was the best in a long time.
"The first thing I did with the kids on May 21st was I had them stand up and said I wanted them to reach as high as they possible could with both hands," said Bruney.
"They stood up and stretched. I said, "OK, everybody shake them out and pause. This time I want you to reach again, but reach even higher.'
"After they did that I asked them how many got even higher the second time than the first time and about 90 percent of them raised their hands.
"I said 'See, that's the problem here at Brooke. When you're asked to do something, you have to reach as high as you can the first time. You're not going to get that second shot.
"That's how we had to approach this season. When you're asked to do something you reach high the first time because we only get one shot at this one time."
You get one chance each week to win a football game.
Brooke had 13 chances and was successful 13 times. The 14th time it was different.
South Charleston was the better team on the turf, but that does not diminish what the Bruins accomplished.
Along with the hopes of the Bruins faithful, expectation levels were changed.
"Our expectations are here," Bruney said lifting his hand above his head. "Anybody can be here (with his other hand at his waist).
"If we set our expectations here (at the lower level) we'd have 500 kids out for football.
"Our expectations are here (at the higher level) and that's we have only 50-some playing football.
"Here's where we want you to get and we're going to push you as hard as we can to get you to that level. And, if you can reach that level, we're going to go ahead and set it again."
Seems like it worked this year and there is no indication why it won't work again next year.
That does not guarantee another trip to the Island, but your chances get better the harder you work.
The bad part with the Brooke football program are all the negative people who are still whining that a 'Brooke' guy was not hired for the position.
Get over yourselves.
Believe it or not, the football program is not about you.
It's about the kids.
You're the same person who is shaking Bruney's right hand and stabbing him in the back with your left hand.
This may be only about five percent of the population. But, the problem is that five percent is louder than the other 95 percent.
If you are in that five percent, and you know who you are, go buy your season tickets, sit in the stands and shut up, other than to cheer a touchdown.
Your negativity is not needed, wanted, welcomed or beneficial.
Adults need to step away and let the coaches coach.
Adults need to back the new coach and shut up.
Adults need to stop confronting Bruney at a Saturday practice and go through the proper channels. If you can't do that, you have no right to say anything at any time.
I am guessing what you did to the coach that Saturday is something you would never do to the third-grade teacher, to the science teacher or to the P.E. teacher while class is going on.
But, it's OK to do that to the football coach?
That's the garbage and junk that needs to be eliminated from that program.
Get on the really heavy bandwagon and cheer or jump off and shut up.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)