By Kevin Eickman
In his second year as head coach of the Milford Buccaneers football team, coach Shaun Strickland and his staff earned a 9-1 record, along with a playoff birth. This year Strickland will be looking to improve off that success, with a roster that has seen some huge changes due to the departure of 16 seniors. While that number may be significant, Strickland points to another set of numbers that he believes are more important
“One you take a look at our first year here, we only had 50 guys come out for football. This season we had 70 come out, that’s a real indication of a program that is gaining momentum.” Strickland stated. While there are only 10 seniors on this years squad, Strickland does not see that as an issue “These guys all know how to compete, they are not without experience and can play the game of football.” said Strickland.
One player Milford is looking forward to having a good year from, is junior Rahshawn Price. Injured for most of last season, the Bucs are looking forward to having him back in the fold. Projected to play on both sides of the ball, Price will see action at running back on offense, in a deep backfield that will also have senior David Bowman returning. Also in the backfield will be senior Jordan Waters and junior Caleb Watson, all four of those players are captains
“This is an exceptional group of players, who are leaders as well.” Strickland continued “We feel blessed to have four guys of this caliber in the backfield.”
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Taking snaps for Milford this year will be junior Tayone’ Matthews, who has been quarterbacking at the JV level for the last two seasons. “Tayone’ has really put in the work to improve his play at quarterback, he has earned the right to be our starting quarterback,” Strickland stated. “He is an outstanding athlete who throws the ball well, yet he also has the ability to run it as well, offering a real dual threat at quarterback.”
Milford will have some new starters at wide receiver as well, with junior Terrell Gibbs and freshman. Marquis Gillis who had an outstanding camp and has continued to look solid in practice and scrimmages.
Last Thursday Milford scrimmaged against Appoquinimink and looked solid on both sides of the ball. While the offense started a bit slowly, they gained traction as the play wore on. The defense looked solid from the start and looked to be almost as good as last year’s squad, fostering optimism for Strickland. “Our defense has a lot of guys that love to play the game and have a nose for the ball. We are really excited about what they can do this season,” Strickland stated.
Part of getting better is competing, and the Buccaneers have certainly upgraded the level of non-conference teams they will be battling this year. The only returning team is Delaware Military Academy, who also qualified for the State tournament last season. The other three teams are Sussex Tech, Cape Henlopen and Polytech, all Division I teams “We know it’s a step up, but we feel it is something we needed to do to keep improving,” Strickland said. “We know it’s going to be a challenge, but it is something that we are up for.”
Milford will open the season on the road this Friday at Sussex Tech, with kick-off scheduled for 7pm. The home opener will be the following week against DMA, also slated for a 7pm kick-off.