From the sports editor: Milford fans won’t forget Legrand

Mike Tkach can still picture it.

When Brandon Legrand scored a touchdown — and he scored a lot of them for Milford High — he would always run to the back of the end zone and simply hand the football to the official.

“Then he’d jog down the sidelines and he’d look at me,” said Tkach, the former Milford head coach. “He’d have this big smile on his face. I’ll always remember that.”

For Tkach, and a lot of other people around Milford, it’s crushing to know they won’t see that smile or those striking green eyes anymore.

Brandon Legrand

Legrand was just 28 when he died in a motorcycle crash early last Sunday morning.

The Greenwood native was remembered in a funeral service on Saturday. Earlier in the week, family and friends gathered at Milford’s football stadium, where Legrand was a star running back on the Buccaneers’ 2008 Division II state championship team.

They released balloons at the 50-yard line and shot off the cannon nine times for the No. 9 Legrand wore on his jersey.

Tkach said Legrand was as good a high school running back as he’s seen.

“A lot of coaches say guys have a second gear and stuff like that,” said Tkach. “But when he got through the line of scrimmage, and got to the linebackers, there were probably very few people that were going to catch him. You could just see that he switched into a different gear.

“The one nice thing about everybody posting stuff now (online) is that I got to watch a lot of highlight-reel plays and clips from the championship year. That’s how I’m going to remember him.”

Legrand finished his Milford career in 2009 with a school-record 3,777 rushing yards and 53 touchdowns.

He may have been at his best when the Bucs won the state crown in ‘08. In two state tournament wins, over Wilmington Friends and Laurel, Legrand ran for 544 yards and six TDs.

In Milford’s 20-0 victory over Laurel in the state finals alone, Legrand broke loose for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a grueling 34 carries.

“There’s a kid that I knew I could always depend on as a coach,” said Tkach. “If I needed something, I was going to go to him. And he wanted me to go to him. He wanted the ball when it was important.

“You don’t get those local sports heroes a lot. For this town of Milford, he will always be remembered for what he did and what he helped bring to this town.”

Just a couple weeks ago, Legrand was voted into the Milford High Athletics Hall of Fame. It was the first year he was eligible.

He’ll be honored on Sept. 13 when the Bucs host Delaware Military in their Hall of Fame Game.

Tkach said Legrand had been told about the honor.

After high school, Legrand spent a year at Wesley College, playing in five games for the Wolverines. He later became a truck driver.

Tkach said the father of four was training to start driving for Big Lots.

“He overcame a lot of things in his life,” said Tkach. “I’d get a call sometimes and he’d say, ‘Coach, I’ve got to come over and watch some football.’ He was just like that.

“It’s a big loss for this whole community. He was a real-life, hometown hero here. … He was a good person and that’s what hurts a lot. I was proud of him. When I got that phone call (about the accident) on Sunday morning, it was like, man, you can’t believe it.”

Local NFL ties

With NFL teams getting ready for the start of the season, here’s an update on some players with local ties:

At Arizona, former Delaware State standout Rodney Gunter is entering his fifth season with the Cardinals. The 27-year-old defensive lineman has played in 64 games with 25 starts and 89 tackles in his career.

Also in Arizona, former Delaware running back Wes Hills is trying to make the Cards as a free agent. The fact that he was also a standout special-teams player with the Blue Hens might help his chances.

After being released by Tampa Bay in April, former Wesley College quarterback Joe Callahan took part in a showcase camp for the XFL. The league will have a draft in September.

Now entering his seventh NFL season, former Delaware linebacker Paul Worrilow is trying to make the Eagles’ roster. The Concord High grad had just signed with his boyhood favorite team when he blew out his knee last year.

Of course, Caesar Rodney High grad Duron Harmon is a veteran safety with the Patriots. Delaware State coach Rod Milstead, himself an NFL veteran, had Harmon speak to some of his players on Friday.

Patriots safety Duron Harmon, a Caesar Rodney product, speaks to DSU football players on Friday. Submitted ;photo

Among other things, Harmon reminded the Hornets about how many NFL players come from small schools.

Odds & ends

• Also on Sunday, the downstate community lost Pat Savini at the age of 60. Known for his career as an educator at Caesar Rodney and Sussex Tech, he was also a standout basketball player at both Holy Cross High and Wesley College.

• Dover High basketball standout Elijah Allen posted on social media that he’s received a scholarship offer from Southern Utah.

Derrik Gibson, the former Seaford High baseball standout, is in his first full summer out of the game after retiring last year. In 11 minor league seasons, Gibson played in 995 career games with 3,464 at-bats and 876 hits.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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