Someone should tell Madison's Warren Anderson that the track season doesn't begin for a couple of months.
During the Warhawks' 28-0 win over W.T. Woodson last Friday, the senior quarterback scrambled out of the pocket and, unable to find a receiver, decided to run. He spied a Woodson player coming at him, so Anderson tried to leap over the defender -- and clipped him with his foot.
Flag on the play. Anderson was guilty of hurdling, a rarely called five-yard penalty.
"I saw the guy and he went low, so I tried to get over him," Anderson said. "They said I had kicked him in the face. I was just trying to fight for that extra yard."
Despite the penalty, Anderson's effort did not go unappreciated, even though it was not surprising to a team that relies on his leadership.
"That was just typical Warren," senior lineman Jake Thomas said.
Anderson does not have gaudy statistics, (22 of 45 passing for 371 yards; 43 carries for 317 yards), as do many of his AAA Northern Region counterparts, but his poise at quarterback has been critical for the Warhawks (4-3, 3-1 Liberty District), Coach Gordon Leib said. Madison has won three of its past four games, and a strong finish could land the Warhawks in the Division 5 playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
Madison traditionally features a strong ground attack, and three different players -- Anderson, senior Justin Duncan and junior Aaron Lambert -- have led the team in rushing in its first seven games. But Leib said that he has tinkered with the offense to put the ball in Anderson's hands more often. Against W.T. Woodson, Anderson responded with his finest passing day of the year, going 8-of-11 for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
"We only go as far as Warren takes us," Leib said. "We've changed our offense so he can run a little more and give him more opportunities through the air. I think he could have a breakout game passing, too."
Anderson, also a cornerback, made a point to give credit to the team's defense, which has held opponents to less than 10 points in all four Warhawks victories. The team will also be buoyed by the return of one of the biggest players on the roster, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Thomas, a two-way player who is back after a bout with mononucleosis.
If Madison wins its final three games, all against district opponents, the team has a strong chance of making the playoffs, which the Warhawks missed last year with a 5-5 record.
On Madison's regional championship team two years ago, Anderson subbed at quarterback for two wins when the starter was injured. This season he'd like to make the leap to being the starter on a championship team.
"Each game we're getting better and better," he said. "We have a winning tradition here at Madison and I'd like to keep that going."