The Dodgers are "ready to go" when Madison faces undefeated Mountain Lakes on Saturday for the North 2 Group 2 state championship at Kean University, Coach Chris Kubik said Thursday.
"Practice has been great all week," Kubik said. "The kids are ready to go. They're focused. It's been a great week as expected."
Mountain Lakes is a very good team with a very good running attack, Kubik said.
"We expect them to play as tough as they can on Saturday," he said.
Teams haven't been able to stop Madison's running game. And while Madison didn't throw a single pass in the semifinal, quarterback Carson Lassiter said Madison's passing game is underestimated and the team and coaches have made it more efficient this season.
As it did the previous two seasons, the running game, strong defense and hard work took the Dodgers to the finals, Kubik said.
The ritual for the Madison Dodgers before the state championship is the same as before all the other games: Watching film. Practice. A walk-through of all their plays until they are crisp and nearing perfection. A team dinner.
"We don't really feel pressure," Lassiter said.
The team has been making the most of the week, especially the seniors, who know it's their last week playing for Madison. They're not thinking about the win streak, or the people in the stands, or the media.
"We just worry about scoring more points than them," he said. "The whole team knows the win streak is there, the whole team just takes it one game at time."
Support from Madison High School students and faculty is strong, and it has been great seeing the Madison community rally around the team, Lassiter said.
The Dodgers are ready for a tough game, the quarterback said.
"This isn't going to be an easy game for us," he said. "Mountain Lakes is not a joke. We're ready to play."
"The bottom line is we're going to go out there and give everything we've got," Kubik said.
11 Guys Every Play
A driving force in Madison's running game is Rutgers-bound running back Justin Goodwin. Lassiter said he and twin brother Layton Lassiter and other seniors are interested in being recruited and talking with schools.
Asked to talk about some of the players on the team, he said middle linebacker and captain Matt McDonald acts as "the quarterback of the defense," hits opposing players as hard as he can, repeatedly, and is one of his best friends.
And while the backfield of Goodwin, Shone Register, Carson and Layton Lassiter gets attention, Carson Lassiter said the offensive line is key to Madison's success: center Billy Kennedy, right guard Jaywon Brown, right tackle Collin Scarpello who is playing for Mike Ubertaccio, who is out hurt, left guard Matt Fastiggi, left tackle Will Mottola, and tight ends John Young and Nick Haboj.
Kubik said the team is strong all around.
"There are 25 kids I could talk about," Kubik said. "We're a great unit across the board. That's the bottom line. Eleven guys every play that are going to put their hearts out. These guys do a great job and we're a great team."