Mountain View claims state title

The Mountain View Buffalos celebrate at War Memorial Stadium after claiming their second state title in three years. The Buffs beat the Buffalo Bison 24-14 on Friday, Nov. 15, and were led by standout running back Kimball Madsen (No. 19), who scored all three of Mountain View’s touchdowns on the University of Wyoming field in Laramie. (CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE/Cayla Nimmo)

Buffalos survive second-half comeback to win 24-14

In a rematch of last season’s 2A State Championship game, the Mountain View High School football team flipped the script on Buffalo, holding off a second-half charge by the defending state champs to win 24-14. The win capped off a perfect season for the Buffalos at 11-0.

Mountain View’s Kimball Madsen was the workhorse on the ground, toting the ball 25 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns. The Buffalos were stingy on defense as well, holding the Bison to 225 total yards while racking up 441 yards of their own.

“We’re very, very happy,” said Mountain View head coach Brent Walk. “These are amazing kids — it’s crazy how committed they are, in the off-season, during the regular season. These are amazing young men.”

Mountain View received the opening kickoff and wasted no time moving the ball into Buffalo territory. Facing a fourth-and-5 on the Buffalo 41, Walk’s gamble to go for it backfired, giving the Bison excellent field position.

Buffalo’s initial drive went nowhere, and Mountain View once again moved the ball into Bison territory on the legs of Madsen and a 28-yard pass from quarterback Braeden Walk to Ashton Schofield. But the Bison defense was again up to the task, turning away Madsen on a fourth-and-2 on the 3-yard line.

After a fumble on their next drive, Buffalo found themselves in their best field position of the game, setting up shop on the Mountain View 26. Faced with a fourth-and-short of their own on the Mountain View 18, the Bison turned the ball over on downs. The game was still scoreless going into the second quarter.

Mountain View broke the stalemate on their first drive of the second quarter. On a first-and-10 from the 42, Madsen finally broke loose, scampering 58 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The play was a triple option that quarterback Braeden Walk read perfectly, pitching to Madsen at the last minute; Madsen trucked a defender and sprinted in for the score. Teancum Piekkola hit the PAT, and Mountain View led 7-0.

“Kimball [Madsen] was unbelievable, that first touchdown he scored was crazy,” coach Walk said. “After I watched it again, I told Kimball that night, ‘I’ve been coaching a long time, and in 28 years, this could be the best high school play I’ve ever seen.”

But the Madsen show was just getting started. After Walk helped his own cause on defense by knocking the ball loose from Buffalo’s Rowen Rudy on the Bison 8-yard line, Madsen scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run. Piekkola drilled the PAT, and Mountain View held a 14-0 lead.

After driving down to the Mountain View 15-yard line on the ensuing drive, Buffalo’s Rudy again lost the handle. Mountain View’s Jimmy Medler came up with the loose ball, and the Buffalos were back in business on their own 25.

After a penalty pushed Mountain View back to their own 10, Walk again connected with Schofield, this time for 30 yards to the Mountain View 40. With less than two minutes left in the first half, Madsen broke another long touchdown run, this time for 60 yards. The Buffalos went in to the locker room with a 21-0 lead.

The game became a tale of two halfs following the break, as  the Bisons’ Rudy made up for his two earlier miscues by taking the opening kickoff 91 yards for a score.

Suddenly, Mountain View found themselves in a game.

It was a defensive battle after that, though Mountain View was able to score once more in the third, a 29-yard field goal by Piekkola to make it 24-7.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the Bison marched down to the Mountain View 20-yard line. On a second-and-11, Rudy scored what would be the final touchdown of the game, a 20-yard run to cut Mountain View’s lead to 11. Taylor Swanston hit the extra point, and it was a 24-14 lead with four minutes to play.

Buffalo had one more possession in the game, but failed to convert a fourth down in their own territory with 1:29 to play. Mountain View was able to run out the clock, and claimed their second state title in three seasons.

Buffalo was unable to find an answer for Madsen, who torched the Bison defense for 244 yards on the ground, 165 of that in the first half.

“Kimball ran the ball really well, he had an amazing game for us,” coach Walk said. “And our offensive line did an amazing job in terms of opening up holes all night. It was a great team effort.”

Walk finished with 24 yards, while Briggin Bluemel added 23.

Under center, Walk completed nine passes in 20 attempts for 132 yards, 77 of them going to Schofield with four catches. Bluemel had three grabs for 41 yards, while Madsen had a pair of catches for 14 yards.

Defensively for the Buffalos, Blumel led the way with 12 tackles, including seven solo; two of his tackles were for a loss. Madsen and Medler had eight tackles apiece; Medler also recovered two fumbles, both of which led to scores.

The Buffalos have 10 seniors on their roster, including Madsen and Walk. Coach Walk said the group has been coming over to his house to play football in his backyard since they were third-graders, and it’s a group not easily replaced.

“It’s just a very special group,” he said. “Great kids, incredible leaders and they have a great love for each other. What they’ve done in their high school career is incredible — three state title games, two championships. Just a very special group.”

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