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Mark Madland

Auburn Panthers/Pierce County Bengals

1981-1988
 

Mark Madland was the defensive signal caller on the most dominant football team in Northwest history's post-war era.  Leading the charge on a team that shut out 10 of 16 opponents in 1986 and 6 more shut outs in 1987, Madland-led defenses gave up more than 10 points on only 5 occasions through the final32 games while he earned All-NFA first team linebacker in 1985 (No league awards were given out in 1987 when the NFA shut down).

 

The "M&M's" of Madland and (Steve) Matychowiak made it virtually impossible for opponents to run the ball on the Panthers 3-4 defense.  A knee injury slowed him down, but it did not stop him from being one of the most dominant linebackers to ever play the game.  His ability to read offensive linemen and teach future stand-outs like Matychowiak the techniques are rarely seen attributes of today's minor league players who rely on their bench press numbers and 40-times rather than their eyes and brains to play dominant football.

 

After a stellar high school career at Wenatchee HS where he earned 6 varsity letters in Football, Wrestling and Baseball and All-State honors, he earned All-Conference honors at Spokane Falls Community College.  After a redshirt season at BYU, he transferred to UPS in Tacoma dominating at linebacker for 3 seasons earning NAIA All-Northwest and Little All-America honors.  Mark is a member of the Wenatchee HS Athletic Hall of Fame.

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In his own words:

 

The year was 1985 and somehow I wasn’t considered yet as over-the-hill, even as a 31-year old strong side middle linebacker.  This was especially true after having just been a teammate in a perfect 15-0 season and time-honored 3-4 defensive scheme used by our Northwest Football Alliance, Auburn Panthers.  The Panthers were coached by ex-Pierce County Bengals Chief, Steve Harshman.  The Bengals, owned by the legendary Doc Door, had actually disbanded and in essence became the Auburn Panthers in 1984. It was after their improbable 4-year 57-1 record, West Coast Championship and National Championship run, the Panthers franchise finally returned to being the Pierce County Bengals in 1988.

 

In 1986 we all were on top of our own world after having come back from our season’s final game, beating the San Jose Bandits 14-7 for the MPFA West Coast Championship.  This Bandit’s game was played the week after winning the Northwest Football Alliance Championship by beating the Salem Stars 19-3 in Auburn. 

 

For me personally, it was the very best of storybook seasons. Coach Harshman somehow, again, took a ragtag group of extreme and "disparate individuals" (other side of the tracks type of folks) and found a way to build the most perfect, however flawed, undefeated championship team.  As the defensive captain and signal caller in’86, I was fortunate enough to be recognized with All-NFA Linebacker honors from the league’s coaches.  Although, even more meaningful than the awards, or our team meetings held at the local tavern after every practice and game, was a season which provided the epitome of demanding physical challenges.  I had never imagined I would be playing a semi-pro football play-off and two championship games only two weeks after completely severing my ACL.  This very loud pop and resulting tear was verified two months later by a camera on a scope maneuvered by Dr. Royer Collins, which was three weeks after kicking San Jose’s butts in our last game that season. 

 

Entirely meaningless was the final regular season game where this unfortunate ACL tear took place, except for proving we could kick the West Seattle Warhawk butts 31-0.  The game was actually quite fun until the 4th quarter leg whip which was performed by yours truly in a moment of shear mind numbing ill focus.  The need was to tackle the running back, but without being in good enough position to do so, there was an excruciating and loud pop which made me roll on the turf for a moment in agony while holding my knee.  It didn’t take more than 5 seconds for our concerned safety (whose name I will remember later) to hover over me saying “if you need to die, don’t go doin' it out here on the damn field!”  I immediately knew my only course of action would be to deny anything ever happened.  But this would also need to be after springing back up onto one leg and hopping off the field (unassisted) and heading for a quick barf on the sideline.  After taking a moment to hone my denial, I ran, as best as possible, back to the defensive huddle.  I needed to prove I could still play as good as I ever could.  After three plays of telling my knee to do what it would not, I resigned myself to “punt” if you will, and left again for the comfort of the sidelines.   

 

If you have ever been injured on a semi pro football team, you would know that your fellow teammate are so disgusted that you would allow yourself to get injured, they not only DON’T speak with you, they won’t even make eye contact.  Coach Harshman could only shake his head, apparently attempting to get rid of the thought of having lost his LB, defensive captain, and signal caller, on the eve of the playoffs.  All I said to him was “it will be alright. I have two weeks to recover before we have to play again”.  All Harsh could do was react with a visceral laugh and say, “no you won’t you idiot, you’re done”…hence, the brilliance of Coach Harshman.  Had he laid out the challenge in any other way, I may not have become so inclined and determined to take it head-on and absolutely prove him wrong.  I told him I would be back to play the first playoff game in two weeks, but no one will see me before then. And so it was written, in spoken words, as I limped off into the wilderness for two weeks of my own private hell hiking in the hills. 

 

You can imagine the surprise of my teammates when I sauntered into the locker room, out of the blue, two hours before game time in full uniform.  All Harsh had to say was “It’s about time!”  I asked the trainers to tape my knee but was surprised by Harsh taking over the job, saying he was best at taping knees into casts.  I peg-legged out to the field where, by some miracle, everything about my knee was holding together.  After double digit tackles and a third quarter interception deep in our territory, I was named player of the game in defeating the Snohomish Blue Knights 36-8.  Ironically, events were very similar in our next week’s championship victory over the Salem Stars 19-3. Then on to take on San Jose’s running game the following week.

 

A month later during the team banquet, Coach Harshman handed me the Most Inspirational Trophy in recognition for my effort during the season and began telling the team his version of my last four games, which ended with me limping off the field in San Jose with a minute to go in the game and the Panthers leading 14-7.  My knee had finally let me down and only allowed a slow limp to the sidelines.  After review of the game films, Coach Harshman tallied 18 unassisted tackles to my credit in that game.  In an exceptionally odd quirk of fate, the knee injury turned out to be the best defensive assist for a once overly mobile inside linebacker.  The injury put the “governor” on and at the right speed to keep from over running the Bandit’s vaunted off-tackle power running attack. Instead, they were run into, and stopped dead in their tracks.

 

I played a couple more seasons for Auburn but never repaired the knee.  At that time there was no operation which would work effectively.  I was advised by Dr. Collins to fix it only if it ever gives me any problems.  It never has.  Fortunately, as Dr. Collins related to me, 5% of the athletes who rupture their ACL have a mysterious muscle structure that contracts at just the right time to keep the knee joint from falling out when they take a step forward (John Elway is the most famous of the "5-percenters").  I owe my best football season to that 5%, and to a great and unsurpassed football Coach named Steve Harshman.

 

 

THE 1988 SEASON

 

Ironically, only two years later I would find myself as the defensive captain and defensive player coach on a 4-year undefeated team (57-0) playing the last game of the franchise in Auburn against the same San Jose Bandits.  That game ended up being the first and last loss of the franchise. The loss came with 1min 20 seconds left in the game with the Bandits on their own 20 facing 4th down and 10 yards to go.  The impossible happened. The Bandits threw a simple post pattern. The 2nd team safety who was filling in for the injured starter, fell down trying to tackle the post pattern receiver after his catch. That receiver went on to score the 80 yard play and defeated the Panthers 17-21.  No league honors were ever given that year. 

 

This game was already planned as the last to be played by the Auburn Panther Franchise, even before the loss.  Utterly devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how we all felt after this final game of the 4-year franchise.  Can you imagine the horror?  We had beat the Bandits all game with our base defense.  Steve Matychowiak and I as inside linebackers had totally shut down their rushing offense…once again.  We did it entirely using Base Defense reads of the offensive linemen.  Base Defense had to be the final call.  I reasoned that we never played the prevent well. But, prevent should have been the call.  The contrast from this season to the one in ’86 is the type of lore which I am sure inspired the Greek Tragedy.  The loss made any hint of ever reclaiming redemption, utterly impossible.  I will live with this mistake forever.

 

HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF

 

I was the All-State Linebacker and team captain for the 1973 Wenatchee Panthers, who in 11 games preceding the first ever state championship game, had only 7 points scored against us.  We had shutout 10 out of the 11 teams we played going into the State Championship. In the playoffs we had shut out Jack Thompson 20-0 of Evergreen (the throwin' Samoan at WSC and later Cincinnati).  We held Steve Dills (Fort Vancouver/ Stanford/8 years of NFL teams) to 7 points, winning 10-7.   99 out of 100 times we would have beat the 9-2 Kentridge team in the State Championship, but this time we lost by two points.  There were many reasons, but n the end, I was not able to help us win, and that is my High School Legacy, and horror.  A mistake without redemption, which carries lifelong consequences.

 

…But here is the rest of the story. 

 

Post Script:

 

Another interesting and overwhelmingly significant fact about the 1985 season was that a 19-year old girl named Kerry Eggerud from Auburn High School who was a trainer for all 4 years of the Auburn Panther franchise.  During 1986 season, Kerry eventually ended up as the person I trusted most to tape my ankles into casts every practice and game to prevent injury.  This is a routine I had become accustom to playing football in the late ‘70s for the University of Puget Sound.  Head UPS trainer Zeke Schultz always taped my ankles in similar fashion during my years playing football for Coach Paul Wallroff and Coach Paul Simonson at the UPS, playing in the NCAA Division 2 Independent league.  At UPS I earned All-Northwest and Little All-American honors at inside Linebacker.

 

Kerry Eggerud eventually went into nursing school and now is a Physician’s Assistant living and working in Wenatchee.  She has been happily married for 22 years, has a 17 year old son, 13 year old daughter, 3 dogs…and me as a husband.  We moved back to my home town, Wenatchee, in 1991 and live in a rustic log house on a chunk of land at 2400 feet elevation, only 8 minutes from town.   We love our lives and where we live.  It is difficult to imagine a better life. 

 

The Wenatchee Panthers got me playing college football.  College football got me playing for the Pierce County Bengals and the Auburn Panthers.  The Auburn Panthers are directly responsible for who, what and where we are right now…funny how things work out. 

 

 

 

   
 
 
 
  2011 GNFA GREATER NORTHWEST FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION.