During the Milford High School Football home opener game on Friday, September 23 four Mr. Joe Lank, Mr. Jim Smack, Mr. George Davis and Mr. Paul Mills were inducted into the 2011 Milford High School Football Hall of Fame. The evening’s awards were be presented by Jack Simon, President of the Gridiron Club, and Glen Stevenson, Athletic Director at Milford High School.
The first inductee of the night, Joe Lank was a two-way end for the Bucs from 1946 through 1947. Mr. Lank was a key player for Milford’s football squad during these years. He was captain of the 1947 team, and scored 48 points that season which made him one of the highest ranked scorers in the state. Mr. Lank was the first student at Milford High School to letter in four sports. Fellow Milford Hall of Fame inductee, Coach Barney Briggs, said “Joe Is an unending source of inspiration to the youngsters in the school.” After graduation, Joe went on to further his career at the University of Delaware. He played all four years for Delaware and during his senior year, Mr. Lank was the only 60 minute player on the squad, playing offensive end and defensive halfback. He was the second highest scorer on the team that year. At the end of 1951 season, Mr. Lank was awarded the Taylor Memorial Trophy by his coaches and teammates. Upon graduation, Mr. Lank was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and served 28 years, retiring in 1980 at the rank of Colonel. He was then appointed Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard in 1981 and served for 8 more years. Due to his outstanding athletic career, Mr. Lank was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame this year. Joe Lank was accompanied on the field by his wife Gigi to accept the award.
The second inductee, Jim Smack, played offensive line from 1957 through 1960. During his senior year, Jim was moved to the position of fullback. The opportunity to carry the ball and block from the backfield was a ‘dream come true,’ for Mr. Smack. When Milford played Georgetown, Jim carried the ball 13 times, gained 113 yards and scored 3 touchdowns as Milford went on to win by a score of 19 to 13. The 1960 high school football team recorded an 8 -1 record. During his senior year, Mr. Smack was selected 3rd team All State. Throughout his time at Milford, Jim also ran track and was a member of the wrestling team. Due to his outstanding athletic abilities, Jim earned a full scholarship to play football at the University of Delaware, where he played all four years and was a part of the 1963 team that won the Lambert Trophy and the national championship. Upon graduation, Mr. Smack was invited to try out for the Minnesota Vikings. However, he was committed to serving the US Army after completion of the ROTC program at the University of Delaware. Mr. Smack has said , “Milford Football has played a very important part in my entire life, and has allowed me to get a college education, serve in the armed forces and move on to other leadership positions.” Mr. Smack was accompanied by his wife, Chris, and Coach Larry Gocella, the head coach of Milford High School in 1960, to accept his award.
The third inductee, George “Butch” Davis, played running back and defensive back from 1963 through 1964. Mr. Davis was the first African-American player to earn All-State and All-Conference honors for Milford after the school district integrated. He was selected first team All Lower Delaware and second team All-State. During his senior year, Mr. Davis served as co-captain of the team and rushed for over a thousand yards, and was a leading scorer in the state. He was selected to represent Milford in the annual Blue-Gold All-Star game during which he scored the Gold teams only touchdown, in a 12-6 loss. Throughout his time at Milford, Mr. Davis also was a member of the track and basketball teams. During his senior year, he served as co-captain of the basketball team and while playing point guard, scored 235 points, making him one of the leading scorers on the team. The 1964 basketball team, led by Mr. Davis, became the first undefeated team in Milford basketball history with a record of 18-0. After graduation, Mr. Davis joined the United States Army. While serving in Vietnam, he received the Purple Heart and other meritorious service awards. In 1982, he became ordained as an Elder and served as President and Spiritual Advisor of the Pentecostal Highlights. The induction was awarded posthumously, and was accepted by his son Anthony Davis.
The final inductee of the evening was Paul Mills, a loyal supporter of the Milford High School football program for over 35 years. Mr. Mills is the first nominee to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in this category. Since 1974, he has tirelessly volunteered his services on the sidelines of the Milford High School football field as a member of the chain crew. To this day, Mr. Mills has never missed a game. Not only does Paul volunteer his services during the game, he also supports the team through various donations. In 1989, Mr. Mills helped start the Milford Football Boosters program. Through the years, Mr. Mills has also helped coach Pop Warner Football, and was a member of its building committee. He helped construct the building that is still in use today. Mr. Mills is active in other sports in the Milford community as well. He has helped coach the Milford Middle School wrestling program for 10 years and officiated the sport for 22 years. When Mr. Mills is not standing on the sidelines of a game, or coaching, you can find him cheering in the stands. Rarely does a Milford event go by without attendance from Paul. His dedication and enthusiasm for Milford athletics has helped to support programs in the community for the past 35 years. Mr. Mills was accompanied by his wife Bobbi and his mother Frannie May Wilkins.