West Elk tries to cap off perfect regular season with victory against Madison

HOWARD — Although there’s still a game left in the regular season, West Elk can already start preparing for postseason action.

Yet, the Patriots would like nothing better than to cap off another perfect regular season on Thursday with a home win over Madison. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Pat Simmons Stadium in Howard.

WEHS wrapped up the Eight Man I-District 1 championship last week, pulling away in the second half for a 62-28 road victory at Marmaton Valley.

With that win, the Patriots improved to 8-0 overall while officially punching their ticket into the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. West Elk will now try to finish the regular season a perfect 9-0 for the third time in the past five years. The squad has won 43 of its last 47 regular-season games dating back to the end of the 2012 campaign.

“It’s great to be district champs,” said Patriot coach Chris Haag, who has led the team to eight playoff appearances now in his 17th season at WEHS. “This is obviously something we’ve been shooting for all season. We haven’t been playing quite as well as we would have liked lately, but we are still winning. Now that we have the district championship, I think the boys will take a few deep breaths.”

With the exception of its perfect record, not much else is on the line for West Elk heading into its regular-season finale. Of course, the important thing is the Patriots want to remain healthy with a bi-district home playoff game set for Nov. 3.

“We are a little dinged up, so we need to get healthy,” Haag said. “This week, we want to stay focused. We’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted so far, but there’s still work to be done.”

The Patriots continue to be led by quarterback Cade Miller. The senior accounted for 309 of the team’s 408 total yards in the win over Marmaton Valley. He carried the ball 14 times for a game-high 160 yards and five touchdowns while also completing 5-of-13 passes for 149 yards and two more scores.

On Thursday, West Elk will be facing a Madison squad that has struggled in district play following a 4-0 start to the season. Falling in three of their last four games, the Bulldogs take a 5-3 overall record into the regular-season finale. They are coming off a 28-6 home loss to Sedan.

“The one thing you have to remember about Madison is the tradition of their program,” Haag said. “You are still playing Madison, so we will see everything from them this week. We have to go out there and take care of business.”

This will be just the second meeting between West Elk and Madison since WEHS moved to the eight-man ranks. A year ago, the Patriots captured a 66-18 road win over the Bulldogs.

(Photo credit to Lynne Miller)