By Kevin Eickman
Last Friday was supposed to be Milford’s homecoming game against Polytech. This was a game the Buccaneers were looking forward to, after a brutal three-game road stretch against Caesar Rodney, Smyrna and Sussex Central, and losing all three contests.
Instead of celebrating homecoming, Milford received word last Tuesday that Polytech was forfeiting the contest and giving the Buccaneers their fourth win of the season; however, it was a game MHS would have rather played.
“You always look forward to homecoming and you always bring a little extra to the field for that game. The fact that we didn’t get to play is kind of disappointing,” Bucs Coach Shaun Strickland said. “However, there was a legitimate concern about Poly being able to field a team. This was about safety, so we completely understood.”
After receiving word of the forfeit last Tuesday, Milford immediately switched gears to preparing for Lake Forest. The Spartans, who won last year’s Battle of the Bell 31-28 on a last-second Kade Collins field goal, will come in with a sense of purpose knowing that a victory will secure them a spot in the Division II tournament. A loss, however, will most likely leave them on the outside looking in.
“This is a very good football team. They beat us last year and are going to be coming in here looking to make the playoffs by beating us,” Strickland said. “This is a great rivalry and the stakes are higher this year than I can remember for a long time. I know that they are going to bring their best. We just have to be ready for it.”
The Buccaneers’ task will be tall as the high-flying Spartan offense comes in averaging just over 33 points a game. Lake is loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball, with quarterback Damian Galindez under center and running backs such as Taj McNair and Isaiah Johnson just to name a few standouts.
“Their offense is well disciplined as well as very talented, it’s going to take a terrific effort on our part just to try and contain them.” Strickland said.
One of the players on the field last year was Milford senior Anthony Diaz, a solid force in the middle of the defensive line. To beat Lake, he understands that Milford will need to be at their best.
“We have to be smart and disciplined,” Diaz said. “They have a very good offense and every one of us needs to do our job correctly if we want to beat them.”
Another Milford senior is running back Jabraih Luke who will be counted on to provide production on both sides of the ball and is looking for redemption after last year’s three-point defeat.
“Losing last year left a really bad taste in my mouth. It’s one of those losses you don’t forget.” Luke concluded, “For us seniors it’s our last game, nothing would be better than to come away with a win and the bell that goes with it.”
Friday’s game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Milford.
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