Photo by Gerald Castillo
Madgett runs back to roots at running back
Offensive coordinator Victor Sierra demands that all 11 of his players on the field be on the same page on every play.
But two days prior to San Marcos’ 28-17 loss to Buda Hays, junior Takai Madgett was in a whole new chapter.
The Rattlers had just found out that senior Jamon Johnson, the team’s starting running back, was out for the game. Sierra wanted to make sure that he explored all of his options in finding a replacement.
Madgett had spent his middle school seasons at running back, but moved outside to wide receiver when he entered high school. As a sophomore last year, the coaches offered him a spot on the varsity roster – on defense, as a backup safety. Madgett was happy to oblige.
“That’s what the team needed,” Madgett said. “And, even though I was a two, I got the experience it was to be on a varsity field with everybody else and what to expect out of everybody and what a district-level team looked like.”
A month after the end of the 2017 season, Madgett asked Sierra to be moved back to receiver, though. He’d always felt his skill set was better suited for the offense and had been getting faster during track season.
“We want to do what’s best for the team, first,” Sierra said. “And, if he was needed on defense, then he needed to stay on defense … And he was understanding of that.”
The team ultimately decided having Madgett back on offense would be beneficial, and agreed to make the move.
“He was ecstatic,” Sierra said. “He was really happy that he was able to move to the offensive side of the ball.”
During the offseason, Madgett wanted to prove that he was taking the transition seriously. He spent the summer working with Silverback University, an athletic training program based in San Antonio.
When he arrived for training camp, the coaches noted that he might have had better conditioning than anyone else on the team.
“Takai Madgett looked really good,” defensive coordinator Gilbert Rodriguez said on the first day of practice. “He’s in shape, you can tell he’s ready to go. You know, he could’ve gone another eight drills. He came out really good.”
Madgett had successfully made the transition back to receiver. But when Johnson was ruled out last week, Sierra tried him out at running back for a few plays during practice.
The junior turned back the clock and used his instincts to make cuts that receivers don’t typically make. The offensive coordinator liked what he saw.
“Running backs coach (J.J. Sierra) told me ‘Alright, I’m going to give you a crash course right now and you’ve got to learn this before the game,’” Madgett said. “And I was like ‘Alright, let’s go.’”
The coaches only selected a handful of plays they wanted Madgett to learn, and explained which plays he needed to block, which plays he needed to swing out for a pass, and which plays he needed to take the ball and run.
Madgett crammed just enough for the game against the Rebels. Down 21-10 late in third quarter, San Marcos put him in the game at running back.
On the first play of the drive on the Hays 31-yard line, junior quarterback Cameron Vidrine caught the snap and handed it off to Madgett, who cut towards the strong side. Sophomore tight end Ronnie Perez bumped a blitzing linebacker and defensive end out of the way, opening a gaping hole for Madgett to burst through.
“I just saw Moses parting the Red Sea,” Madgett said. “It was wide open. So, I saw it and just went. I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me.”
Once he reached the second level, Madgett shifted back left and broke free from two defensive backs’ arm tackles. From there, Madgett accelerated down the sideline and made it to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown, the Rattlers’ biggest gain of the night.
“Everybody (was) on the same page,” Sierra said. “And then, like we tell our running backs, ‘We’re going to get you from point A to point B. Once you get to point B, it’s on you.’ And that’s what he did, once he got to point B, he made those cuts.”
Madgett finished the night with one catch for nine yards, and led the team with six carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. He said he plans on continuing to make big plays, no matter where he lines up.
Sierra said the Swiss army knife should expect to see his role expand as the season progresses, beginning on Friday against San Antonio Johnson inside San Marcos Toyota Rattler Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
“I bet he could be a great offensive lineman if we put him there,” Sierra said. “He could play anywhere if he wanted to and he’d probably put his mind to it and wrap himself around it and go, whatever it takes for the team. That’s just what he does, that’s just the kind of kid he is.”