By Kevin Eickman
This past Saturday the Milford Buccaneers football held their first ever scrimmage under first year head coach Shaun Strickland. At the end of the scrimmage, as Strickland was addressing his players it was clear that he wanted to leave the past just where it belongs. “Let all the doubters thing whatever they want,” Strickland said. “We know how good we can be and that is all that matters.”
The past that Strickland was referring to was that of the last three years of Milford football. Over that time period, the Buccaneers could only muster a record of 5-25, including a pair of 1-9 records over the last two years.
Adding just a bit of intrigue to the scrimmage was the familiarity that the two coaching staffs had with each other. In leaving Caesar Rodney to come to Milford, Strickland was going up against his former team his first time out. Also adding a bit more familiarity was the fact that former Buccaneer coach and athletic director Mike Tkach was assisting for Caesar Rodney. While it is still way to soon to come to any conclusions on the state of Buccaneer football, they appeared to hold their own against the visitors from Camden.
Catching up with Strickland after the game, we took the opportunity to find out how it has been going and what the expectations are for this year’s squad. “It’s been moving quick, trying to get everyone on the same page,” Strickland stated. When reminded that the opening game was just three weeks away, Strickland was quick to add, “We got two, three weeks and then we’ll be right at it. I think today was a real great day, we’ll be good.”
When asked what type of offense he would be running, Strickland held his cards close to the vest. “We will be running a little bit of everything. You got a look at our spread today, you got a look at our I today,” Strickland said. “We have the stuff that we need and we’ll work of what teams do to us and adjust to it.”
Speaking with Strickland about leadership, he mentioned that the captains had just been selected and that he thinks they will provide the guidance the Bucs need going forward. Sophomore David Bowman, junior Ryan Jones and seniors Tyler Norwood and Jose Ortiz were selected captains. Strickland believes that there are several other players who will be helping out as well. “We get more leadership out of guys like [Shawn] Snowden and [Dominyc] Hovington and a few other guys who just missed the cut at captain but are still able to provide leadership.” said Strickland.
When asked about the second year running back Bowman, Strickland was quick to point out that he expects many more players to contribute. “The kids that have come in and the kids that have come back, I’ll tell you what, Milford has athletes,” said Strickland. “D.J. Bowman is a weapon, absolutely. But there are five, six other weapons we have that we can use.”
When asked how the transition to a new coaching philosophy has been going, Strickland explained that it has had its ups and downs. “Whenever you’re trying to change a mindset and get guys and get guys on the right path, it’s always difficult,” Strickland stated. “What we’ve seen is a lot of guys are buying in. Guys are buying in and playing hard, practicing hard, that’s why we have leaders stepping up.”
When asked about the team’s goals for the season, Strickland stated, “I want our guys to grow before anything else. We’re going to have ups and downs all year, it’s how we handle it as a team and how we perform that matters.”
Milford will open the season at home against Red Lion Christian Academy September 11 at 7:30 pm.