By Kevin Eickman
As first year coach Shaun Strickland was addressing the Milford Buccaneers football team, following a less than inspiring 34-14 loss at the hands of the Delaware Military Academy Seahawks, the message was clear. They will get better from this, they will correct their mistakes and become a better squad because of what they learned.
Going up against a DMA defense that is considered by many to be one of the top units in the state, Milford was able to continually move the ball. Sophomore David Bowman continually baffled the Seahawks all game long, turning in runs and keeping the chains moving. It was obvious that Milford could move the ball, but it was other areas of the team that needed some attention. “When your kicking yourself in the butt and stalling drives, you’re going to pay a price against a good team like DMA,” Strickland stated.
Starting with the first series of the game, the Seahawks offense tested the Buccaneer defense. DMA drove the ball deep into Milford Territory, deciding to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Milford 10 yard line. The Seahawks never had a chance as the Buc defensive front devoured the Seahawks running back in the backfield.
On their first possession of the game, Milford fed the Seahawks a steady diet of Bowman. It was fairly simple, Bowman left, Bowman right and Bowman up the middle. It looked as if there was very little that the Seahawks could do to stop it. Eventually the Buccaneers would work their way across midfield before a key penalty contributed to the drive stalling on the DMA 36 yard line.
DMA took over and proceeded to move the ball well against Milford, using the ground game to set up the passing game. It looked as if the Seahawks would open the games scoring as senior Paul Wolfe found the tight end wide open at the Milford 20 yard line. Two Buccaneer defenders gave chase, forcing a fumble at the five yard line. Milford was able to recover at the one yard line, dodging yet another bullet.
While the Buccaneers were able to punch their way out of the shadow of their own end zone, the drive would stall and DMA would take over at their own 40 yard line. Working with both run and pass, DMA kept Milford off balance, as they marched relentlessly to towards the Buccaneer goal line. With just 1:54 remaining in the half, DMA would score the games first points on a 10 yard run by sophomore Todd Turner, taking a 7-0 lead.
Milford would waste little time responding as Bowman would return the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 7-6 following a missed extra point.
Unfortunately for for Milford, DMA was not done. Taking over at their own 40 yard line, they quickly worked their way into Milford territory. As DMA ratcheted up the passing game, the Milford secondary did not have an answer. Consistently DMA receivers found themselves open in the secondary, more alarming they were able to get behind the Milford defensive backs even when it was clear what was happening. The end result was a 15 yard touchdown pass with just five seconds left in the half. With the successful extra point, Milford trailed 14-6 at the break.
Milford would start the second half on offense and work the ball quickly to midfield, the drive would stall however and the DMA offense would once again cause problems for the Bucs. Driving right down the field they would extend their lead to 21-6 with a 6 yard quarterback keeper.
The final bright spot for Milford would be when Bowman turned in a spectacular 45 yard touchdown run. On the play Bowman looked to have been stopped for little or no gain, his legs kept churning however and soon to the amazement of many, he was free and headed to the house. A two point conversion would bring Milford to within seven, as close as the Buccaneers would get for the rest of the game. DMA would score two unanswered touchdowns to close out the Bucs and send them home with a 1-1 record.
While disappointed with the loss, Strickland believes that the mistakes that occurred are fixable and he is looking forward to getting back to work. “There are a lot of areas that we were able to identify that we can improve in,” Strickland stated. “We get back to work on Monday and we are going to fix those issues, we are going to get better going forward.”
Milford will host Saint Andrews this Friday at 7:30pm.