By Kevin Eickman
Before the season began, the Milford Buccaneers knew that their opening night contest was going to be difficult. With the Cape Henlopen Vikings expected to be a top team in Division-I, the game was sure to challenge the Buccaneers in all aspects of the game.
By the time the night was over, two things were evident, Milford has some exciting playmakers and Milford has some young players on that need to gain experience. “We knew going in that we had some younger guys on the lines, and that we would have some rough spots,” stated Coach Mike Tkach. “We made some mistakes tonight that are very correctable.”
The evening started well for Milford, beginning the opening series with senior Vance Daniels operating the read option offense for the Buccaneers. On the opening drive Milford moved the ball well, earning the games first down, on a third and short, courtesy of catching Cape off-sides. On the very next play, Daniels pitched the ball to senior Octavion Wilson, who let fly with a pass down the right sideline. At the other end of that pass, the ball traveled 61 yards, into the hands of senior Jason Parker. Milford missed the extra point, giving them a 6-0 advantage just 1:22 into the game.
Cape Henlopen was quick to respond however, after taking the kickoff to the Milford 47 yard line. The Vikings converted a 3rd and 17, for a first down. Following the key conversion, senior Justin Lopez scored the first of his three touchdowns from seven yards out. The score and failed conversion knotted the game at 6-6, with 7:53 remaining in the game.
Things began to unravel quickly for the Buccaneers, as they fumbled on their very next play from scrimmage. Cape again wasted little time, scoring a touchdown and two-point conversion to make the score 14-6. The turnover was a result of a poor snap, a problem that troubled Milford in the first quarter. Capes third touchdown of the quarter came after a poor snap on a punt set up Cape deep inside Milford territory.
With Cape Henlopen having a a 21-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter, Milford began to catch their breath, and played some of their better football of the night. Resolving their issues getting the ball back to the quarterback, junior Cole Davis hit senior Tikeace Harris for Milford’s second first down of the game. While Milford could muster little more on the drive, the chance to give their defense a rest was critical.
After Milford had punted the ball to Cape, the Vikings once again got deep into Buccaneer territory quickly. Milford once again had their backs to the wall, but this time came up with a key play to keep Cape out of the end zone. On 2nd and goal from the Bucs 13 yard line, Cape completed a pass. On the play, Wilson forced a fumble and the Buccaneers recovered. “I think the second quarter was very good for us,” Tkach commented. “The guys started feeling better about what was happening, and started to make some plays, O.T.’s was one of them.”
Milford managed to move the ball off and on the rest of the quarter, but failed to score. Following the introduction of the 2013 Hall of Fame class at halftime however, Cape quickly began to put the issue to rest. The Viking offensive line began to assert themselves, exposing the youth of the Milford squad. “We had a few line calls that got lost in translation, things that we will work on going forward,” said Tkach. “But a lot of credit goes to Cape, they moved the ball well on us tonight.”
Cape would eventually work their advantage to 41-6, as Milford could do little to stop them. The lone bright spot of the evening came on a touchdown run by sophomore Son Martinez, who looked good on the drive. He also looked good at other spots during the game as well. “Martinez is a good young talent, he came in here and worked hard during the summer,” commented. “We need depth at the running back position, obviously with O.T. playing both ways, it’s important that Martinez can step in and give him a breather from time to time”
Next up for the the Buccaneers is a road game against Delaware Military Academy. The 1 pm start is part of a quadruple header, being held at the University of Delaware. “We have a long week to prepare for DMA., they were a playoff team last year, so we know they are good,” said Tkach. “I think we will be ready for them, and we are really looking forward to playing at the University of Delaware.”