Milford relying on offensive, defensive lines

The Milford High School football team will look a lot different in some areas when it takes the field for the first time this season.

Gone are Mitchell Banuskevich, Harrison Urda, Evan Perron and Willie Miles, guys who had been productive for the Spartans for some time.

But when the skill positions will feature a lot of new faces, the building blocks – the offensive and defensive lines – are made up of several experienced players.

“The offensive and defensive lines are awesome, they’re very talented and tough kids,” Milford coach Keith Jones said. “We now have to have some guys step up beyond them. They (the linemen) are the ones with all the experience. We’ve got inexperienced guys in the secondary, at linebacker, and as far as running backs, we’ve got kids who got a taste, but it’s up to them to replace guys. It will be interesting.”

One places where the Spartans have things figured out is at quarterback, where junior Max Urda will take over for his older brother, Harrison.

The younger Urda was able to get varsity experience a year ago, filling in for three and a half games after Harrison suffered a season-ending injury in a win over John Stark.

“It’s priceless,” Jones said of that experience. “You figure he had to play the last three and a half games. I’m very pleased. He’s come right in and not missed a beat.”

It will help having Travis Hughes, Adam Audet and Kody Palladino – the guards and center, respectively – back in the middle of the offensive line.

“It’s great, especially in our offense, where we do so much with the guards,” Jones said. “We’ve had to replace tackles. Not really replace, the two or three kids rotating in are kids that pushed last year that could have easily been the starter. (Nick) Skinner is a tight end who is just as seasoned and that’s working out very well.”

As for those skill positions, Jones estimates there could be about a dozen different players to fill almost as many positions.

“There are tons of newcomers, at all the skill positions,” he said. “Linebacker, fullback, split end, cornerback, safety, doesn’t matter.”

Mark Madigan – who stepped in at cornerback after Urda’s injury last year – and Bryce Walker are two that are leading the pack at running back, along with senior Jahir Romney, who has yet to fully participate in contact drills due to an injury.

“It’s a nice mix of hard-nosed, tough juniors giving us everything they’ve got,” Jones said. “There’s a couple of sophomores mixed in there. We’ll be different, but we’ll be solid up front.

“If anywhere you want to replace (kids) it’s at running back. You don’t want to have to replace linemen. I think that’s the nucleus of the team and to be able to have the quality we have coming back certainly has made life easier. The other thing, too, we’ve had kids get a taste and we have a system where it’s not rocket science. These guys from the get-go, many will step in and go. There wasn’t a huge learning curve, it wasn’t foreign to them. It’s all about angles and fluency.”

If everything breaks right for the Spartans, they once again could be in the mix in Division II’s South Conference after coming in third a year ago behind Trinity and Windham.

“I think knowing that they were pretty good last year, and we were right in the mix of the best group, and not making the playoffs hurt really bad,” Jones said. “The offseason workout for a lot of these kids has been unreal, the best I’ve ever seen.”