By Kevin Eickman
Heading into last Friday’s matchup against Woodbridge, Milford was riding a three game winning streak following a rocky start. The offense appeared to be rounding into shape and the defense was looking solid. The Buccaneers and Blue Raiders appeared poised for a classic Henlopen South showdown. The only issue was Milford did not come ready to play.
The early season mistakes that plagued the Bucs over the first three games of the season reared their ugly head as Milford was soundly beaten on both sides of the ball. One of the early indicators that Milford was out of sync came on the very first play from the line of scrimmage in the contest. After the Blue Raiders returned the opening kickoff to their own 20 yard line to start the game, before the first snap of the contest Milford got penalized for 12 men on the field. It was the kind mental breakdown the Bucs would exhibit all night.
“We made way too many mental mistakes for us to even have a chance tonight,” Milford coach Shaun Strickland stated. “You can’t come out here against a quality team like this and do what we did tonight. Woodbridge played solid all night and we made things easy for them.”
After the teams had exchanged punts to start the game, Woodbridge took over on their own 15 yard line for their second possession and rapidly changed the tone of the game. Blue Raider senior running back Jamon Kane took the ball on a sweep right and traveled 69 yards. It took Woodbridge just three more plays to cap off the drive as Kane took it in from five yards out and the extra point gave Woodbridge a 7-0 lead with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter. The Blue Raiders never looked back.
The Buccaneer offense went three and out on their next possession and Woodbridge started their next drive at their own 20 yard line. Woodbridge systematically worked their way down the field aided by a few Milford penalties. It seemed that each time the Milford defense had a chance to get off the field Woodbridge would make a big play or the Bucs would make a mistake to keep the drive going.
“Like I said before, this is a team you can’t make mistakes against. You can’t gift them first downs and expect to beat them,” said Strickland. Woodbridge senior quarterback Troy Haynes would take it in from six yards out as the second quarter began as the Blue Raiders doubled their advantage to 14-0.
On the ensuing drive Milford would be stopped cold on a fourth and short from their own 40 yard line. Woodbridge was quick to take advantage of their good fortune as Haynes connected senior Gabe Wescott on a 39 yard highlight reel catch to the Buccaneers one yard line. Kane punched it in from one yard out to extend the Woodbridge advantage to 20-0. A lead which Woodbridge would take into the locker room.
Milford showed a glimmer of life as they emerged from the halftime locker room, stringing together a few nice plays. Although the drive stalled and the Bucs were forced to punt, Milford began to show signs of life.
The Milford defense responded as well to open up the third quarter, forcing a Woodbridge punt on the host’s first series of the half. Disaster struck as Milford fumbled the punt and the Blue Raiders pounced on it.
Woodbridge wasted no time taking advantage of their good fortune as Haynes connected with senior Richard Massey on a 24 yard scoring strike. Massey was so open on the play there was no doubt it was a missed Buccaneers assignment. This was not the only time of the evening that a Woodbridge receiver found themselves covered by nothing but open space.
“We really blew some coverages tonight, this isn’t something we didn’t know about,” Strickland said. “Everyone on the team needs to do their job, when they don’t that is how you find guys open with nobody around for 20 yards.”
Woodbridge extended their lead to 34-0 with 7:00 remaining in the game on a 52 yard pass play between Haynes and a wide open Wescott. The only scoring for Milford came long after the issue had been decided as Milford freshman quarterback connected on a 35 yard touchdown strike to sophomore Marquise Gillis with just 43 seconds remaining in the contest.
The loss dropped Milford to 3-3 (2-1) on the season and has left their post-season aspirations on life support. The Bucs will travel down to Lewes this Friday and face off against Cape Henlopen. It’s a game Milford has to have and has to be ready for.
“It’s about learning from your mistakes, it’s about getting better. We have to take what we learned this week and become better because of it,” commented Strickland. “It’s all about putting in the work, that’s what we have to do.”
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