By Kevin Eickman
Taking advantage of the gap between the end of the winter sports season and the beginning of the spring season, Milford Live will be looking back over the next two weeks to celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding athletes in both the fall and winter sports. This week will look at accomplishments of the 2012 fall season.
Football: The Milford Buccaneers football team got off to a fast start this season, with early season victories over Concord and Indian River high schools. During those two games, a number of Buccaneer players stood out including Vance Daniels, Octavion Wilson, Nathan Poore and Nick Jefferson on offense and Zachary Rickards and Andrew Marshall on the Defensive side of the ball. While Milford found it hard to maintain their winning ways, these players all had accomplished years and deserve recognition for their hard work.
However there can be only one player of the year and looking back on the season there was one player who stood out as a player and a leader. In a season that saw Milford struggle to a 3-7 finish, there was a player who answered the bell, time and time again. In week nine Milford fell at Smyrna by a score of 28-0. In that game Nick Jefferson was carted off the field and taken to the hospital after suffering through a game that saw him take numerous hits. Unlike the rest of the year, Jefferson stayed down for the first time.
The following week, Jefferson gave his best performance of the year in the battle of the bell. In that game Jefferson accounted for all four scores in the 28-27 loss to Lake Forest; the final touchdown was a keeper that looked to give Milford the winning score with just 48 seconds left. Unfortunately Milford couldn’t hold on, in what was arguably the best high school football game of the season. That game was indicative of the never give up spirit Jefferson demonstrated all year long. For that Nick Jefferson is selected as the Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Football Player of the Year.
Cross Country: What a year for Milford Cross Country, with the girls’ team finishing second in both the Henlopen and Kent County Championships and the boys’ team winning the Kent County title, while finishing third in the Henlopen, it was a solid showing for both squads. There is little doubt that runners on both teams stood out this fall season.
For the girls’ team, Alexis Groce finished second in the Henlopen Championships, then came back two days later and was named Kent County Champion. Groce not only won the title, be turned in a personal best, and set a course record in the process. In addition Groce also finished seventh in the State Championships held at Brandywine State Park. For that Groce is named Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
For the boys’ team, Henry Phalen won both the Henlopen and Kent County Championships as the Milford senior battled illness all season long en route to his accomplishments. When asked about Phalen after the County Championships, coach Czar Bloom expressed his admiration for the effort Phalen gave, “Henry has had a very tough year, but he has kept battling this season.” For that Phalen is named Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
Field Hockey: A program on the rise, Coach Andrea Fleming has the Milford field hockey team headed in the right direction. This season she was blessed with some senior leadership that paid off when they needed it most, as the Bucs finished the season strong on their way to a birth in the State Tournament. Milford had a number of players that stood out, a testament to the type of team that Fleming is building, which made the decision of choosing one athlete difficult.
In the end it came down to three players: Alyssa Mills, Peyton Shockley and Rebekah Yanacek, each one is worthy of the honor. Two times during the season, Milford faced almost certain defeat. Down a player in critical times against superior opponents, the Buccaneers looked sure to lose. However, when they needed it most, goalkeeper Rebekah Yanacek came up with the huge saves that kept the Milford season alive. For this Yanacek is named the Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Field Hockey Player of the Year.
Boys Soccer: Another program to watch going forward, coach Ken Outten did a fantastic job of getting the most out of his squad. Time after time during the year, Milford found themselves missing players due to injury and each time they responded. Connor Lingo and Andrez Luna-Lima battled injury all season and gave the Buccaneers everything they had on the way to an 8-5-2 record and a birth in the State Tournament. Another player who stepped up was Milford senior Philip Berry, that showed tremendous effort all season long.
There was however just one constant presence on the field this past season for the Buccaneers. Goalkeeper Brent McFarland answered the call all season long. Not only did the senior provide solid goal keeping, he also provided leadership to a young and developing back line that was tested all season long. For that McFarland is named Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Volleyball: The Milford volleyball team suffered through a difficult 0-14 season. This is a very young team that will be looking to improve. While suffering through the tough campaign, Milford kept a positive outlook all season long. This was the result of senior leadership that refused to let the team quit, and allow it to grow. Talking with coach Shawn Snyder, he credited this group with keeping the team together and pointing it to the future. It is because of these unique circumstances that we now break our own rule. For these reasons the Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Volleyball Player of the Year is, the senior members of the squad. They refused to quit and gave Milford yet another reason to be proud. We salute you : Rachel Suit, Lauriel Robertson, Sarai Sorcia, Brandi Paquette, Brandilyn Town and Brooke Hughes.
Among all of the fall sports athletes, one female and one male athlete were chosen as the Richard Y. Johnson Athlete of the Fall Season for demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. The winners of each season will be eligible for the Richard Y. Johnson Athlete of the Year Award presented at the end of the spring season by Milford Live. An award will be presented for both male and female athlete of the year. The Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Female Athlete of the Fall Season is Alexis Groce and the Richard Y. Johnson & Son, Inc. Male Athlete of the Fall Season is Henry Phalen. Next week Milford LIVE will look at accomplishments of the 2012-2013 winter season.