Bucs’ defense is key as they aim to end Wildcats’ 19-game winning streak

MILFORD — Reigning Division II champion Delmar High hasn’t lost a football game since Week 2 of last season.

The Milford High football team is looking to put an end to the Wildcats’ win streak, which currently sits at 19 games (including playoffs), when the two face off in a Henlopen South tilt tonight at Briggs Stadium.

It’s a game that’s been on Milford players’ minds ever since the Bucs (3-1, 5-3) fell just shy in last season’s state title game against the Wildcats (4-0, 8-0).

“Ever since last year when we walked off the field, it never left our minds,” said senior Eric Bennett.

The 14-7 title loss ended the Bucs’ 2017 Cinderella run, which included a 24-23 quarterfinal victory over Woodbridge and a 14-7 semifinal win over Wilmington Friends.

“It’s been motivation for us,” said sophomore Marquis Gillis. “That’s all we’re thinking about right now — beating Delmar. It’s like a championship game for us.”

Bennett, a defensive end, helps lead a Milford defense that graduated just three starters from a season ago.

Gillis is a key member of Milford’s secondary.

They both know a strong defensive effort will be crucial to a Southern Division upset.

“We’ve practiced hard all week, and we told ourselves if we just play our keys and focus on our responsibilities we know we can win,” Bennett said.

Delmar’s high-powered attack is tough to predict from week to week, with three quarterbacks making plays with either their arm or their legs and a backfield with plenty of depth behind starter Te’Shawn Dennard.

“We know that they’re going to try to get to the outside a lot against us, because they can’t run up the middle with our defensive line,” Gillis said. “So we’re ready for that speed on the outside.”

“Practice has been more intense this week,” added junior defensive lineman Anthony Diaz. “Everybody has to be physical, we have to get our hands on them.”

Diaz isn’t focused on who is under center or who is carrying the football for Delmar, he’s just focused on getting to the ballcarrier and bringing him down.

“Whoever is back there, we have to get to the backfield,” he said. “We don’t care who is quarterback, we just have to get back there. We’re not worried about that, we just have to do what we have to do no matter who is back there.”

Milford has won five of its last six games and the defensive unit has surrendered just 54 points over that span.

“We just need to play physical,” Gillis said. “I just need to play my part, play my role and if the rest of the team plays their role we’ll be good.”

Coach Shaun Strickland and his Bucs aren’t strangers to ending a long win streak against a Henlopen South foe.

A 20-6 win over Woodbridge High in Week 6 of last season ended the Blue Raiders’ 18-game streak.

“It would be amazing to end the Delmar streak,” said Diaz. “We just need to stay disciplined and don’t make any dumb mistakes, like penalties.”

“It would really mean a lot to us,” Bennett said.

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