It’s the biggest day of the season for the Rattlers. And the most memorable and devastating in the life of the Lamar Mady center.
A year ago, Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Mady’s brother, Lashawn, from an apparent accidental drowning in a creek in Kansas. The 25-year-old, who was five years younger than Lamar, had disappeared earlier in the week.
It left a huge hole in the heart of Lamar, who used this year as his healing season.
Through her game and her prayers, Mady intends to send a message to her brother on Saturday evening at 6:05 a.m., when the Rattlers (11-3) face the Northern Arizona Wranglers (11-2) for the best record in Indoor Soccer. Western Division of the League at the Footprint Center.
“This week is really important to me,” Mady said earlier in the week after practice. “I had ups and downs. But I’m really focused.
“A lot of guys in the team were my brother’s age when he died. That’s why I take them under my wing. A lot of them are like my brothers.”
Mady, 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, was going to quit football after last season. Last September, at the press conference following the Rattlers’ 37-34 overtime loss at home to the Massachusetts Pirates in the IFL Championship Game, Mady announced he was retiring.
But when training camp started in March, Mady was back. He has been the anchor on the line since 2017, when the Rattlers began their transition from the Arena Football League to the IFL. He was an All-IFL first team in 2017 when the Rattlers defeated the Sioux Falls Storm for the championship.
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Coach and general manager Kevin Guy was happy to see Mady again. He came to the Rattlers as a center, his natural position, but moved around the line during his tenure. He’s played both guard and center this year, battling injuries.
Mady is a big voice in the locker room. The players respect him. And they know it’s time to step it up a notch with the Wranglers who beat them a few weeks ago in Prescott Valley in a game the Rattlers let slip at the last minute with turnovers.
“We missed the game, that’s what we did,” Guys said of the 37-34 loss to second-year franchise NAZ. “We put the ball on the ground six times. Their defense was more physical than our attack. They wanted it more. We weren’t mentally strong when we had to be and we didn’t shut it down when we had the advance.minute to mount four.
“Northern Arizona is mentally strong. They’ve shown that all year. They’ve had a lot of close games. They keep finding ways to win. And we’ve shown that we melt in those situations.”
Mady is certain the Rattlers won’t falter like they did last year when they couldn’t avenge the regular season loss to Massachusetts in the title game.
Guy was all over the players at the end of Wednesday’s training, feeling too many missed missions to be ready to play NAZ in the biggest game of the year.
“We’re not perfect, but we strive for perfection,” Mady said. “So a missed mission, a little this, a little that, is too much within Rattlers standards. It’s not necessarily bad practice, but it’s not Rattlers practice.
“We really have no excuse. We have to improve in what we do. The coach tells us what we have to do. We just have to be men.”
A win on Saturday, and ending July 10 with a home win over the Vegas Knight Hawks (5-9), the Rattlers will have home court in the first two rounds of the playoffs, before the championship game takes place. plays in Las Vegas. August 13.
“Our offense can improve,” said running back Shannon Brooks. “It’s something we work on as a team to be physical. It’s really the basis of the team, to play physical, to play hard. We have to work every day.”
Quarterback Drew Powell blames himself for the loss to NAZ, he fumbled in the final minute as the Wrangler rallied to claim a 37-34 win.
“Coach is putting together a pretty good game plan this week,” Powell said. “For me, it’s just about understanding the protection of football and putting ourselves in a good position.”
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Mady holds her teammates to a high standard. He said it was a close-knit team.
They were surrogate brothers after losing his own brother.
“It probably made me stronger to see what I can handle, what I can take on going forward,” Mady said of playing this season. “I’m glad to be back.”
Her mom won’t be at Saturday’s game, but Mady said she will be at the championship game.
“I say this with confidence that we will be there,” Mady said. “She’s going to be there and she’ll probably come in the last game of the playoffs (before the final), because we’re going to sweep there too.
“With the team we have, I have a lot of confidence. If you say so, it will happen. I feel like nothing is stopping us, but us.”
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