Fantastic Milford football season ends

HUDSON – The amazing turnaround by the Milford High football team has to be recognized, even after Sunday night’s Division II playoff, 32-19, loss at Alvirne.

Remember, this is a program that went 2-6 a year ago and graduated its entire backfield and one of the top linemen in the state in Michael Boucher.

To go 6-3 was a huge accomplishment for the Spartans, who will graduated just eight seniors this time around.

QB Gavin Urda will be back next year after an amazing season, and the backfield will be strong and talented again.

Caden Zalenski will get extended work in the backfield with the graduation of his older brother Owen, and, of course, bruising fullback Junior Ughu will return for his senior campaign.

“That’s a real tough football team,” said Alvirne coach Tarek Rothe. “Two weeks in a row, they gave us all we could handle.”

As good as the Alvirne-Milford regular-season finale was nine days ago, the encore might have been better.

The Broncos put together four superb quarters of football and made history, posting the school’s first football playoff victory ever, 32-19 over a gritty band from Milford.

“(Alvirne) had never won a playoff game,” said Broncos’ coach Tarek Rothe. “This it the fourth time making the playoffs and the first time we’ve ever won a game.”

Saturday, the third-seeded Broncos will bid to make add a chapter to this ground-breaking epic when they travel to No. 2 St. Thomas of Dover in the state semifinals. St. Thomas took the regular-season meeting, 26-22.

“Now we have to go to St. Thomas, are you kidding me?” said Rothe.

“We played them tough in the regular season the first time we were here. It feels like a lifetime ago.

“We’re going up there to give St. Thomas everything we got. It’s going to be tough, but we’re in the semifinals.”

In a battle of two of the state’s top quarterbacks, it was sophomore Kyle Gora, who had the final say. The Alvirne signal-caller was an absolute wrecking machine, completing 9 of 19 passes for 192 yards and running 11 times for 138 more.

“Kyle had a great game last week, and he just kept doing what he was doing,” said Rothe. “He kept his composure and he threw the ball great. He’s been throwing the ball great the last three weeks, that’s made the difference.

“He’s a special sophomore, that’s for sure.”

He threw a 58-yard TD bomb to Jamie Bertrand in the first half and dashed 13 yards for a TD in the third, but it was in the fourth quarter, right after Milford had taken a 19-18 lead that Gora turned this game for good.

With 6:14 left, Owen Zalenski broke through for a five-yard touchdown, pushing the Spartans to the lead.

The advantage was gone in a flash. A Maroon-and-Gold flash, sporting the number five.

“We’ve gotten to a point where we can trust one another, and we know we can come back on anybody,” said Gora. “It’s about digging deep. We just came together as a team.”

Taking over his own 35, Gora grabbed the direct snap, feigned a handoff and broke right up the gut. Sixty-five yards and 19 seconds later the Broncos had the lead for good, 26-19.

From there, it was all about closure, and Alvirne, with a hungry defense that held Milford to 238 on 60 snaps, just under 4 yards per play.

Of course, Gora didn’t do it alone. The QB had plenty of room with the Spartans trying to slow down bruising Alex Giuffrida.

The junior ran 15 times for 102 yards, and his final carry ended any hopes for Milford. With just over two minutes to play, Giuffrida ended any suspense remaining with a 29-yard TD dash, his second of the night.

Milford’s effort was certainly commendable. Urda had his moments, throwing for a first-half TD to Ughu. Urda led Milford in rushing with 85 yards on 13 carries. Zalenski rushed 21 times for 79 yards.