Milford football aims to grow this season

Shawn Saxon

MILFORD — With one full season as the starting quarterback under his belt, Shawn Saxon is feeling as comfortable as ever under center.

The Milford High sophomore won the QB battle during preseason last year and has shown a lot of improvement since.

“His growth has been tremendous,” said Milford coach Shaun Strickland. “He’s just been phenomenal and seeing the growth he’s shown has just been awesome to watch. He’s definitely elevated his game since last season.”

“I feel great,” said Saxon. “Everything is just a lot smoother this year. The team chemistry is way up, and everything is a lot more positive out here. It’s great.”

The Bucs open their season today at 7 p.m. at Indian River. The game was originally scheduled for Friday night but was moved up a day due to concerns about the impact of Hurricane Dorian.

After a tough start to the 2018 season, with two consecutive blowout losses to Sussex Tech and Delaware Military, Milford hit its stride and won five of its next six games before capping the season with close-knit losses to finish at 5-5.

Though the team is young this season, and a few key players are going through position changes, Strickland and Saxon are excited to see what they can do as they move up to the Henlopen Conference Northern Division this year.

“For us this year, it’s all about growth, it’s all about getting to where we need to be,” explained Strickland. “Especially with us being so young, we’re asking our upperclassmen to step up and be leaders.”

Three of Milford’s five offensive linemen from a season ago will return this year, providing some stability in pass protection for Saxon.

Junior Marco Olivas returns at center, while seniors Anthony Diaz and Zyair Toledo join him as returners along the front line. Joe Aubourg and Rafael Mejia will join the trio along the front line.

Senior Jabraih Luke and junior Marquis Gillis will be carrying the bulk of the workload at running back. Luke saw varsity carries last season behind the now-graduated Rahshawn Price, while Gillis is making the move from receiver to running back.

So far, Saxon has liked what he’s seen from Gillis carrying the football.

“Our backfield is amazing,” he said. “Gillis, physically he’s just insane. Jabraih, he’s there too, but his vision is just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I think it’s been a smooth transition (for Gillis), just get your playmakers the ball, that’s what it’s about.”

Incoming junior Matt Hague is likely to make an impact in the passing game as a receiver for Saxon.

Milford has been known for its stingy defensive unit over the last few seasons under Strickland, but this season the Bucs will have just four of their 11 starters returning from a season ago.

Returners Diaz and senior Bevensky Augustin will anchor the defensive line, while Alexander Letthand, Aubourg and Toledo will mix in at defensive line.

The linebacking group will be completely new this year, with the top players Hague, sophomore Nasir Bowen-Brown, sophomore L.J. Mumford and junior Bryce Wells. While Wells and Hague did get some reps at LB last year, Strickland notes that this will be their first opportunity to be a couple of the primary starters at the position.

Luke, Gillis, sophomore Kenny Reed, junior Joanel Munroe and sophomore Ivory Conway are included in this year’s group of defensive backs.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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