Experience should help Milford
Keith Jones has never shied away from giving his Milford High School football team the biggest challenges it can face.
Some years that has meant heading up to face Plymouth in a non-division game. Other years it’s been scrimmaging schools with double the enrollment.
This year, it meant going away to camp with two teams, Londonderry and Goffstown, that are expected to be contenders in Division I.
"What an opportunity for us to go to camp with two great teams like Londonderry and Goffstown," Jones said. "We did some great things, we found out a lot of things we really need to get better at, and there were some kids that we didn’t know about who stepped up and came to the forefront a little bit.
"We’re excited about that. We’ve got a little more depth than we originally thought. It was a very successful week."
Milford has been on a successful run the last few years, going 18-9 since the start of the 2012 season, including two postseason appearances.
While the Spartans lost what Jones described as "pretty good kids," they’ll be replacing them with quality athletes.
"We’ve got seven or eight kids who played varsity football last year and both sides of the ball," he said. "It’s been (replacing) one kid here, two kids there. The nice part is that most of the kids were replacing them with, we’ve been able to get them a lot of experience."
Milford returns two players in two of the most important positions in senior quarterback Max Urda and senior center Kody Palladino. Both have seen a lot of varsity time, starting when they were sophomores.
Also returing to the backfield are Mark Madigan, Bryce Walker and Teagan Vitali. Also in the mix will be T.J. Anderson, Dylan Salisbury and Ricky DeBernardo.
Palladino will be joined along the line by Dillon Burdick, who started all of last year at right tackle, as well as on defense. Stephen Dumais will be at left tackle while Corbin Galloway switched from fullback to guard and sophomore Michael Boucher will take the other guard position.
"(Galloway) has got a lot of experience and won’t miss a beat," Jones said. Steven Dumais has battled injuries but he played when he wasn’t hurt. It’s nice having him back. Michael Boucher, during camp he was tremendous."
With the changes made to the Division II playoff format – the four conference winners and the next four best teams based on rating advance – the Spartans hope to not be in what amounts to a playoff game every week.
"It takes a little bit of the pressure off," Jones said. "Two years in a row, we’re out here in mid-season, having a playoff game. It’s like you lose and you’re out. I’m glad that change is official."
Milford still has a tough schedule, with games against conference foes Windham, Souhegan and Trinty along with non-conference games with Lebano and Hollis Brookline.
"It’s keeps you on your toes, but it beats you up. But you want to be in those games every week, or at least I would. I want it to be a 14-7 game every week. The hard part is that all of a sudden, depth becomes a major factor."