For the Oak Hill High School football team, it’s the second leg of the gauntlet. Two games in a row against the best teams Class D South has to offer.

The Raiders showed some good signs in the first game against Wells. Now they’ll look for even more against Madison.

“I think they’re very different,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said of the two teams. “Wells is four yards and a cloud of dust, and I think Madison is a home run. I think Madison has probably got the best offense in the league, and I think Wells has probably got the best defense in the league.”

The Raiders (2-3) lost that battle with the Warriors’ great defense, 41-21, but gave Wells a battle, climbing out of a 14-0 hole to tie the game at 14 before succumbing in the second half. It’s that early showing that has Madison (4-1) coach Scott Franzose expecting a challenge Saturday.

“We’re expecting them to play like they usually do. They’re going to come, they’re going to be competitive, they’re going to play tough,” he said. “It’s a big game for all of us, but for them especially with where they sit right now.”

It’ll be a tall task. With running back Sean Whalen, quarterback Evan Bess and a bevy of other options, Madison’s got speed to burn on the ground and through the air.

“They talk about ‘speed kills.’ Speed definitely doesn’t hurt,” Franzose said. “We’ve had it in the past, it’s a big part of what we do in fitting the system to the kids. We have these kids that play well in space, and they play with speed.”

Here is a look at the Madison-Oak Hill matchup:

Where: Oak Hill High School, Wales

When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday

Oak Hill’s Doucette on Madison: “They have a very athletic team, a senior-driven team. Their tailback, Whalen, is exceptional, and their quarterback is an exceptional athlete. A two-headed monster, so to speak, and their passing game is way above average, and deadly. Defensively, they’re sound. They play their positions and they’re well-coached.”

Madison’s Franzose on Oak Hill: “Coach Doucette and the Oak Hill program, it’s obviously a storied program. …Cruz Poirier in the backfield is a good ball carrier, the freshman at quarterback (Gavin Rawstron) is doing a great job. They’ve got some things they like to do there, but they move their formations well.”

Three keys for Oak Hill:

Find a rhythm right away…

Madison’s got a high-powered offense, the best in Class D (44.4 points per game), and the Bulldogs won’t be scuffling around and looking for an offensive rhythm early on Saturday. Madison will be ready to put up points from the first drive, and Oak Hill will need to be ready to match or risk getting buried early.

…and if you don’t, stay calm.

Last week could have been prime panicking time. Wells was up 14-0 in the blink of an eye, and the Raiders could have wilted and given way to running time. Instead, Oak Hill fought back and tied the score before halftime. Wells pulled away in the second half, but it was a lesson in resilience that could pay off in later games.

• Strike a balance on offense.

Oak Hill loves to run, and getting Poirier going behind a strong offensive line is the Raiders’ preferred style of attack. But Oak Hill’s offense is at its best when it also incorporates the vertical passing element, with Darryn Bailey proving himself to be a big-play option.

Three keys for Madison:

• Shut down the run game.

Poirier’s been a weekly threat to rush for over 100 yards, but Wells completely erased him last Saturday, holding him to 23 yards on 18 carries. The Raiders had some success moving the ball through the air, but were clearly limited without their engine.

• Find an answer for Darryn Bailey.

Oak Hill’s 6-foot-1, 191-pound wideout is a big play waiting to happen, with good speed, great leaping ability and terrific hands. Whether it’s with a one-on-one matchup the Bulldogs are confident in or with safety help over the top, Madison will need to find a way to neutralize Rawstron’s favorite target.

• Win the battle up front.

The only way Whalen and Bess can be contained is if Oak Hill is able to get a surge at the line and cut off running lanes and fill holes before they develop. If the Bulldogs are able to get their skilled ballcarriers room, points will follow.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM