A year after giving its football program a relaunch from a 24-year hiatus, Madison High School attempted to give its game some international flavor.
Canada Prep Football Academy, based on St. Catherine, Ontario, made a 14-hour trip to play the Trojans on Saturday. Well, most of them did. Passport problems left half of the Raiders stuck at the U.S. border. The 11 Canadian players who were allowed to continue on their journey succumbed to the heat of a Midwest August.
With temperatures soaring into the mid 90s, Canada Prep coach Andre Clarke forfeited the game at halftime, giving the Trojans, a Class 1A playoff team a year ago, the 2-0 win.
“We had some roster issues. Some guys had problems with their passports at the border yesterday, and we had to leave them behind. That’s basically what the situation is,’’ Clarke said. “’Our next game isn’t for another three weeks, and so we’re alright timewise.
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“We didn’t want to forfeit the game, so we gave the guys the option of playing the game or having a scrimmage and getting some reps in. The guys wanted to play, and they gave it a heck of an effort.’’
It’s not what Madison coach Mike Hill envisioned with the inaugural International Football Classic, which was advertised throughout the summer on highway billboards along Interstate 64. But as Hill put it, “a win is a win.”
Hill admits he would have liked to have played a full four quarters, but under the circumstances, he could fully appreciate Canada Prep’s position.
“I’m not disappointed. I understand that they had problems with their passports. I appreciate them coming down and playing us,’’ Hill said. “I am a little disappointed in us. I think we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board a little bit.
“But I see positives. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing in a lot of spots. But I see some positives. A win is a win today. We’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re happy with the win.’’
The Trojans, a young team led by freshman quarterback Anthony Sillas, had the better of the scoring opportunities. But Sillas, despite showing a strong arm, threw a pair of interceptions. Madison was also whistled for 11 penalties in the first 24 minutes, which ended in a scoreless tie.
But as the seconds ticked off to close the second quarter, most of the Raiders players knelt on one knee, while others simply rested on the grass after playing every play in a long first half.
Clarke, taking no chances with the safety of his players, met with the officials and notified them that they would forfeit the game.
“It wasn’t that we were injured. It’s just that these guys played more in one half than they would have in a whole game. I mean, we had guys out there who played every single play,’’ Clarke said. “They were getting dehydrated, and I noticed on the last punt that our guys were getting blindsided.
“I got to the point to where you ask yourself about the kids’ security. I had one kid throwing up, and I know it’s the heat. I played college football down here at Southeast Missouri State. I know about how hot it gets down here.’’