By TJ Millman
As we reported last week, the 2008 Milford Football Team is going to be this year’s addition to the Milford Football Hall of Fame. That team, which turns ten years old this fall, was a perfect mixture of stars, leaders, and role players. They lived and breathed football, and each member of the team served a purpose.
“The biggest thing I remember was how so many accepted their role on the team, which helped us have success. We had some 1st team all-state guys like Jason Kollock, Alex Bell, and Chris Drummond. We had one of the best Delaware running backs of all-time in Brandon Legrand. Ryan Deeney, Devon Sivels, and Marques Jones did a ton for us on both sides of the ball. The Allen brothers…the list goes on and on. Like I said before, we had a lot of guys who played their roles. Some rotated in, some played one side of the ball, and others were just on special teams. It was a total team effort,” Championship Winning Coach Mike Tkach said.
Though that season was full of triumphs, both Tkach and ’09 graduate Ryan Deeney remember their losses as much as anything else.
“Two moments that really stick with me are those losses to Cape and Delmar. Our team didn’t get down on ourselves. We truly learned from those losses and regrouped. I’ll also never forget that home playoff game at a snow-covered Briggs Stadium and finishing my Milford football career with a great defensive team win in a packed out Del State stadium,” Deeney said.
Tkach also remembers that snowy game, but with a laugh to go along with it.
“We make the playoffs for the first time since the 70’s. Everyone is nervous and excited to be playing Wilmington Friends. Warmups go good, and we go back inside. It’s time to come out for the game. We open the doors, and there is a blizzard outside. It totally distracted our kids and took the nerves away. Our Defensive Coordinator Chris Johnson turns to me and says, “This is a good sign. They said it would be a cold day in hell before Milford wins a championship,”” Tkach said.
Tkach had a few more memories to go along with that one as well. “There are also a couple of other memories from that Championship game that I will always treasure. My brother gave me a piece of advice that I now pass on to coaching friends of mine that play in the championship. He said to take a moment during warmups. Look around, Look at your kids, look in the stands, and see the people who came out to the game. Take it in because when the game starts you won’t be able to. It was so true. This town came and provided so much energy for us, and that is one of the great things about a small town like Milford. The other was sharing this night with my family. Family who came from PA for the game. Seeing my mom, wife and daughter up in the stands and my sons with me on the sideline as waterboys. Celebrating with my team immediately after the game and getting my leaping hug and kiss from my wife on the field. It will be a memory I will keep my entire life,” Tkach said.
Even though it has been 10 years since Milford’s triumph, the bond of a championship still serves to hold teammates together today. “A lot of my teammates and I are still close friends today. Experiencing those triumphs and tribulations with a group of people makes relationships stronger. We all learned together the T.E.A.M. means Together Everyone Achieves More. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the truth, and learning that was pivotal in our bonds as teammates and as life-long friends,” Deeney said.
For Tkach the joy has not been only in friendships, but also in seeing his players go on to succeed in life as well. “As coaches, we try and teach them the game of football, but also along the way prepare them to become quality young men. You hope they go out and contribute positively to society, and they begin their adult lives. It’s neat to have been able to see a few play in college, and others just go to school or begin working. Next, you see them get married and start their own families. Some have successful careers. Some have gone into teaching and coaching. That’s what makes me so proud, and is the pay you get as a coach. You will run into someone out in public, like at a game, Walmart, or a restaurant, and you get a hug and hear how they are doing. That is what warms my heart. That Championship is something we will always have and share,” Tkach said.
The 2008 team will be inducted in one month on Friday, September 7th, at Milford’s home opener against Sussex Tech. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.
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