Madison Prep coach Michael Roach isn’t in any hurry to change his strategy after the Chargers defeated reigning Class 3A state champion Livonia last week.
Roach had previously said the 13-7 win was the biggest moment for the third-year program and was committed to staying with the defensive end combination of senior Justin Wade and junior Bryan Jones that successfully contained Livonia quarterback Cee Jay Powell all night.
Wade, who had a handful of starts under his belt before last week, recorded a sack and three tackles for loss, while Jones posted two sacks and four tackles for loss in his first career start.
“(Wade) has kind of eaten himself into a defensive lineman and did a super job Friday night,” Roach said. “Jones is really going to be one of those kids that’s going to be a freak of nature. … His best football is ahead of him.”
Wade stands at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and uses his strength and weight to overpower opponents, Roach said.
He’s currently lining up at the right defensive end spot, a stark change from his original quarterback position when he first arrived at Madison Prep.
The transition was difficult at first, but Wade quickly realized his size was better suited for defense and fully embraced the new position.
Wade said he’s set a goal of 100 tackles this season and an all-district honor.
“Having played quarterback, I know how to get to quarterbacks,” Wade said. “I kind of have a little knowledge of what they’re thinking, and I can get after the ball and get the sack.”
On the opposite side of the line, Jones is effective in the way he’s physically built and his quickness off the ball, Roach said. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Jones is expected to stay at the starting left defensive end spot at least until the end of nondistrict play.
Roach particularly praised Jones by saying he believes he has what it takes to reach the next level with his long, powerful frame.
Jones said he was a little nervous heading into the season opener last week but beating one of the best teams in the state gave him a boost of confidence to take into the rest of the season.
“I came out kind of nervous and I had to shake it off, but then I came out and just dominated,” Jones said. “… (The win) gives me a lot of confidence, but I’m just preparing for the next team ahead of us, and we’re going to dominate again.”
The decision to start Jones last week didn’t come without considerable deliberation. For Jones to be bumped into the starting lineup, it meant arguably the Chargers’ best defensive player, three-star prospect Malcolm Roach, would move to middle linebacker.
Michael Roach said he wasn’t too concerned about his son switching positions, as it’s something he’s done for most of his career. It also provides Madison Prep with an element of surprise against teams who would normally double team Malcolm on the defensive line.
“The biggest factor was (Livonia) didn’t realize how athletic (Jones and Wade) were,” Michael Roach said.
“These guys are just as athletic as Malcolm, and Jones can really run. These guys are big and athletic and can make plays in space.”