By Kevin Eickman
With an opportunity to earn the Henlopen South title this past Friday, the Milford Buccaneers traveled to Delmar seeking victory. What transpired over 48 minutes of football was nothing short of disappointing football for a team that hoped for so much more.
Beginning with the opening series of the game, it was clear that something was not quite right with Milford. After a big return of the opening kick-off into Delmar territory, the Bucs advanced to the Wildcat 19 yard line before facing a third and long situation. With the endzone full of Delmar defensive backs, a third down pass from the Buccaneers did not stand a chance. Delmar easily picked off the ball, putting an end to the Milford threat.
The Milford defense responded, allowing just a single first down on the ensuing Wildcat possession. Delmar got off a beautiful punt and managed to flip field position. After both teams had exchanged possessions, Milford lined up in punt formation with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The kick was partially blocked by Delmar who fielded the ball at the Milford 42 yard line. Delmar took the ball straight down the sideline for the game’s first touchdown, with the extra point giving Delmar a 7-0 lead that they never relinquished.
Milford could do little on the following possession and after a three and out, Delmar took over on their own 37 yard lone. Fate shined on the Buccaneers for one of the few times in the game, as Delmar coughed up the ball, which Milford pounced on at the Delmar 42. The Bucs moved the ball with some purpose, but the drive eventually stalled. Junior kicker Jonathan Gaglione connected on a 39 yard field goal, to cut the deficit to 7-3 as the second quarter got underway.
Delmar was quick to respond, driving to the Milford 30 yard line following the field. While it seemed as if the Bucs just might dodge a bullet, Delmar had other ideas. On a 4th and 13, Delmar sophomore quarterback Jacob VonArx connected on a crossing route down to the Milford five yard line. The Wildcats needed one play to punch it in for the 14-3 lead, a lead they would take into the half.
While it may have seemed as if Milford had a chance, that hope was predicated on stopping the Delmar opening drive of the second half. Setting up shop at their own 32 yard line, the Wildcats settled the issue on their first play from scrimmage. Taking a hand off straight up the middle, Wildcat senior sensation Brooks Parker raced untouched 68 yards for the touchdown. It was the first of three touchdowns in the game for Parker, who was nothing short of spectacular in the game on both sides of the ball.
From that point on, Milford offered virtually no response. The Delmar defense clamped down on the Milford running game and the Buccaneers were unable to get anything going in the passing game. The result was the most one sided loss Milford has been a part of this season. With each passing possession, any thoughts of a Henlopen South championship evaporated, replaced by possibly the worst enemy a football team can have, doubt.
There was little doubt that Delmar was the better team, but what was discouraging was the lack of response on the part of Milford when facing adversity. While Milford may have lost other games by big margins under coach Strickland, this was the first time they looked disinterested in doing so.
“We can’t stall on drives, we can’t miss assignments,” Strickland stated. “There’s not much more to it than that, we had so many things we did where we just shot ourselves in the foot.”
The Buccaneers will have to get things fixed in a hurry as they will host Lake Forest this coming Friday, in the annual Battle of The Bell. The game is more than just a renewal of the annual rivalry, Milford needs a win to earn a probable spot in the State Tournament. Lake Forest would love nothing more than to win back the bell and knock Milford out of the playoffs at the same time.
“A lot of the things we did tonight, guys lining up wrong, missing assignments, it’s all really, really basic fixable stuff,” Strickland said. “There are a lot of guys, when they see the film, they will see hey we were here, we had it, we could have done this or that and we need to fix it.”
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