It all breaks just right for Milford

MANCHESTER – The Milford High School football team certainly looked like it was deserving of a playoff spot on Friday evening, but the Spartans needed to wait until Saturday to find out if they actually were one.

Milford took care of business in a must-win contest, easily defeating Manchester West, 43-7, in the teams’ regular-season finale.

Thanks to Trinity’s loss to St. Thomas on Saturday, along with Lebanon’s win over ConVal and Plymouth’s win over Hanover, Milford took the final spot in the Division II South Conference championship game.

The Spartans will get a rematch with Windham, which beat Milford 41-0 on Oct. 24, on Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. at Windham.

Milford (5-3) dominated on both sides of the ball against Manchester West (1-7). The Spartans compiled 455 yards of total offense, including 325 yards on the ground. More impressively, the defense completely shut down the opponent’s running attack, limiting the Blue Knights to only 67 yards.

“Fortunately it’s the last game, so I had all of the film from their games this year,” said Milford coach Keith Jones. “They’re scrappy and they’ve got some kids that can run. They’re quick and they can do some damage in a hurry, especially if you do dumb things. We really prepared hard for this to make sure they didn’t run all over the place.”

The Spartans made their presence known from the get-go, as quarterback Max Urda found Bryce Walker for a 30-yard touchdown on the team’s first drive. The Spartans forced a West three-and-out and scored again at the end of the quarter, with Urda running the ball five yards into the end zone.

The Blue Knights cut the deficit in half midway through the second, when quarterback Zach Allard ran the ball 29 yards for a score.

West threatened again moments later when Walker fumbled the ball at midfield. Milford forced another three-and-out, and responded with a Walker touchdown on the next drive.

The second half followed the same script as the first, as the Spartans scored on each of their three drives to take a commanding lead. Following Teagan Vitali and Dustin Post touchdowns in the second half, Milford scored its most peculiar touchdown in the game’s waning moments. Backed up on its own 8-yard line, a Milford rush attempt turned into a fumble. Manchester West quickly recovered the fumble, but then dropped the ball. Milford’s AJ Smith found himself in the right place, picking the ball up and running into the end zone.

Jones understood that Friday’s game might have been the last contest for his seniors. The coach reflected on the group’s impact to the program in general.

“We have a great group of kids with tremendous character,” he said. “This group of seniors was a very unique group. They’re a little weird, and it made practice so enjoyable everyday. All four years that they’ve been with me, I’ve been very blessed.”

Walker and Mark Madigan provided much of the Spartans offense, combining for 322 all-purpose yards. Urda finished with six completions for 130 yards and a touchdown. Allard led the way for the Blue Knights, throwing for 156 yards and providing another 51 on the ground. He also threw a pair of picks to Madigan and Kyle Leach.