By Kevin Eickman
As they took a knee for one last time for the 2014 football season, there were a lot of things for the Milford football team to be proud of. For those players there at the end they were proud of just making it to the finish. When things do not go your way it is easy to quit. When the deck is stacked against you, it is easy to toss your cards in. The Buccaneers that had gathered in the southern end of the Lake Forest end zone, had made it. They had finished a season that tested their character from beginning to end.
Make no mistake about it these Buccaneers did not do it, they refused to quit. While the final score may have been 40-13 in favor of the Spartans, in the end that was just a number. In their final game of the season, Milford gave everything a 9-0 Lake Forest team could handle. After Lake had made it look so easy scoring their first points early in the game, Milford gave notice that they were not about to lie down for their closest geographical rivals.
Lake was methodical to begin the game, controlling the ball and clock with their running game. Just six minutes into the contest, Lake got their first score. Trailing 7-0 it looked like Milford would be in for a long night, but something happened on the ensuing drive that should buoy the hopes of the Milford faithful. Beginning at their own 31 yard line, the Milford offense looked as balanced as it had been all season. With freshman running back David Bowman leading the way, Milford began making their way down the field. It was not just Bowman who was on point this evening, senior quarterback Ricky Armstrong had his best game of the season. With everything clicking for him, he was able to find the open man in the passing game as well.
Milford would work their way into Lake territory and in the middle of the drive Armstrong would give way to Bowman. While the Lake defense began to key on the Bowman running game, all they were doing was setting themselves up for the fall. As the rushing yards began to become scarce, Milford dialed up a pass play for the first year starter. The result was an 18 yard TD completion to sophomore Shawn Snowden. On the extra point attempt came a special moment. Senior Micheal Tkach scored his final point as a high school player as he converted the PAT. While a PAT might not sound special, the fact that Tkach was on the field at all deserved admiration. Tkach was playing the game with a broken collar bone, just another player trying to make it to the end, trying to finish out the season.
The Spartans are 9-0 for a reason however and for the rest of the first half they dominated the Buccaneers. Responding with a touchdown drive of their own following the Milford score. It looked as if Milford would enter the locker room trailing just 13-6 but champions are champions for a reason and the Henlopen South Champions were not done yet. As the half was coming to a close Lake drove 60 yards and scored with just 16 seconds remaining in the half. From that point on they did not look back.
As coach Mike Tkach continued to talk to his players, it was impossible to listen to him. You could not help but be fixated on the Milford players who had just finished their careers. Kneeling alongside Micheal Tkach was another senior, Rafiq Henry. Henry is person that is going to go far in this world. As smart as they come and as nice a young man as you would ever want to meet. Tkach and Henry, once again sharing the moment. It’s a moment that only they could understand, four years of Milford football now finished, how could anyone but them understand what they were feeling. Talking to coach Tkach after the game, I asked him about Rafiq and Micheal. As he started to speak a tear rolled down the side of his face and his voice began to crack. Well maybe there was someone else who understood what this was all about as well.