Madden Lowe was presented with two challenging tests during the 2016 season. The freshman quarterback at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia passed them both with flying colors.
Lowe opened the season as the starting junior varsity QB and he guided the Bears to their best record (8-2) in school history.
“It was great,” Lowe said. “We started out the season with a loss but after that we grinded. It was so fun after that. We worked really hard.”
Even though he was a freshman playing for Riverbend’s JV team, Lowe never doubted his ability to be successful.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “I was trying to be as confident as possible. But I could tell some people around me were sort of surprised. They thought I wasn’t going to perform as well as I did but I was just grateful. It was a great opportunity.”
Lowe’s season was not limited to his strong showing with the junior varsity Bears.
Tony DeMarco, Riverbend’s varsity head coach, was keeping close tabs on Lowe when he was playing quarterback at Ni River Middle School.
“I’ve known Madden for a while,” DeMarco said. “Ni River is our main feeder school and they ran our offense. I would watch their games when Madden was an eighth grader and think, ‘Wow, he’s making reads and getting the ball to the right people.’ Coming into this past season, I wasn’t sure who our quarterback was going to be. There was a period of time where I told our coaches, ‘Don’t be surprised if we start a freshman this year.’ They’re like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Madden Lowe, I’ve seen the kid play, I know who he is, I know his family. I coached his sister several years ago at our school and she was just a great athlete. He is so grounded.’”
Lowe might have opened the 2016 season as the Bears’ starting varsity quarterback, but DeMarco didn’t want to throw the then 5-foot-10, 145-pounder into a battle he wasn’t completely prepared for from a physical standpoint.
“My kid (Jordan) was our quarterback in 2015, and he was 205 pounds,” DeMarco said. “He got sacked 10 times in one game and that’s still fresh in my mind. So I’m looking at Madden and thinking his body would not take that kind of beating.”
As Lowe gained size – he’s now up to 5-foot-11, 150 pounds – he also gained experience with the JV team and practicing with the Bears’ varsity team.
“I looked at it that if he practices with us, practices against the varsity as the scout team quarterback, he’ll understand the speed of the game and know he has to get the ball out quick,” DeMarco said. “I knew by him going against our varsity defense, it would improve his game as opposed to starting Game 1 for us and just taking a beating from Game 1.”
DeMarco’s patience paid off in a big way.
In the eighth game of the season, Lowe joined Riverbend’s varsity team and he made his debut in the fourth quarter. The Bears were clinging to a 14-13 lead against a solid Freedom High School team and Lowe drove them to the end zone twice in a 28-13 victory.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Lowe said. “I was pretty nervous at first and then we drove down and got a touchdown. The sideline was wild after that. We came back and did it again to win 28-13. That was so much fun. It’s always going to be great memory.”
Lowe made more memories with the Riverbend varsity, which finished the season with an 8-4 record. In 5 games with the Bears, he completed 12 of 21 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also took the majority of the snaps in Riverbend’s two playoff games and didn’t turn the ball over while helping the Bears post their first postseason victory at home in school history.
“I was just blessed to get an opportunity to play varsity football for Riverbend,” Lowe said. “I’ve been watching games there forever and I was so blessed to play in a few of them. I thought it was a lot of fun. Riverbend has a great atmosphere, a great student section. It’s just so much fun to play in those games.”
Fortunately for the Bears, Lowe has three more years of varsity eligibility.
“Madden played very well for us as a freshman,” DeMarco said. “He doesn’t have the really big arm, but the deep ball is overrated. I have linemen that can throw the football 50 yards and they’re like, ‘Hey coach, put me at quarterback.’ Being a good quarterback is being able to make the reads and get the ball to the right people at the right time. Madden is able to do that, and that makes him stand above probably any freshman I’ve ever coached. He’s already shown he knows how to move the ball around the field, and that forces the defense to have to cover the whole field.”
For as impressive as he was as a freshman, Lowe is looking to be an even better quarterback as his Riverbend varsity career progresses.
“This past season, I wasn’t really expecting anything,” he said. “My goal was to perform the best I could and see where they were going to put me. Just perform as well as possible no matter what team I was on. For next season, I think preparation is the main thing. We’ve got to prepare because the best prepared team is going to win the game. My personal goal is to be the most prepared person on the field.”
Lowe has been training with NFA for three years, and that has helped him prepare to play varsity football at such a young age.
“NFA has helped me so much, throughout personal experiences, the speeches before the game, the selflessness,” Lowe said. “And with my mechanics, NFA really got me straight. I’ve never felt more confident when I throw the ball.”