New sports season set to begin in Milford

MILFORD — Not much longer now.

Less than two weeks, actually. On Aug. 15, Milford High School fall sports teams will begin preseason practices. Regular seasons begin shortly after in the beginning of September.

For the most part, the coaches this year at Milford will remain the same. A somewhat new initiative, however, will be added fulltime this school year.

Athletic Director Ryan Winkleblech, last spring, announced Milford will begin a scholar athlete program. The program, which will be in play at both the junior varsity and varsity levels, will recognize athletes that carry a 3.5 grade point average or better during the marking period coinciding with their respective sport.

“I’d been thinking of ways to better recognize our athletes,” Winkleblech said. “It’s a way to recognize all the kids that are out there two hours every day and doing well in school.”

The program was retroactively put in place toward the end of the last school year, Winkleblech said, adding that close to 90 athletes reached the goal.

“This year (2015-’16) to start out they got a tee shirt,” he said. “Next year we’d like to build it up and have banquets to recognize the kids at each grade level. We’ll see where it goes.”

Winkleblech got the idea of instituting a scholar athlete program from one his high school in western Pennsylvania uses. Clarion University, where he attended and played football, also had a scholar athlete program.

“As a student, I remember it, and I wanted that tee shirt,” Winkleblech said. “Funny thing was when I went to college the athletic director started a similar program. He had a scholar athlete luncheon. And I always worked for that GPA, but I’d get it to 3.4 (in the fall) or get it to 3.5 in the spring semester but I could never get it there during football season. It was a goal of mine, but I never made the cut.

“Again, we want to recognize the kid on the field and motivate them even more in the classroom,” he added.

Looking ahead

With the fall sports season looming, now is a good time to look at the upcoming campaigns.

Coming off a 6-4 run last year, one that nearly got them in the Division II playoffs, the Milford High football team is likely facing some high expectations in 2016. Now in their second season lead ing the squad, head coach Shaun Strickland and his staff should benefi t from the likely return of multiple skill position players. Where the Buccaneers will have their work cut out for them, however, is in the trenches as they will look to replace multiple linemen who graduated off last year’s squad.

Along with what should be a strong Henlopen South schedule, the Bucs also have some possible difficult nonconference bouts scheduled. The biggest nonconference test figures to be Sept. 16 when Delaware Military Academy comes to Milford for the Buccaneers’ first home game of the season.

Milford opens the year on the road Sept. 9 at Red Lion. The Bucs are scheduled to begin conference play Oct. 7 at Seaford and their final regular season game is slated for Nov. 11. In that one Milford will play “Battle of the Bell” rival Lake Forest.

Cross country

Losses to Henlopen North teams Caesar Rodney and Sussex Tech – the latter by just one point – were all that kept the Milford girls’ cross country team from an undefeated 2015 regular season. Still, the squad was able to run away with the Henlopen South team title.

The boys team won its South championship as well, but overall the squad finished 7-5.

This season’s schedule for both teams features all tri- and quadmeets, which is fairly unique. Head coach Bob Spath will look to have his teams conditioned and ready for a home tri-meet at Milford Millponds Nature Preserve on Sept. 14. Their opponents will be Caesar Rodney and Smyrna.

This year’s Kent County Championships will be on Nov. 1 at Polytech and the Henlopen Conference meet is slated for Nov. 5 at Killens Pond State Park.

Field hockey

Back in the playoffs last year after missing out in 2014, the Milford field hockey team will also enter this season with high expectations.

A season ago, the Lady Bucs finished with a 9-7-1 record including a 3-2 heartbreaking playoff loss to Wilmington Christian.

Amazingly enough, only one player – Courtney Lingo – graduated off the 2015 squad, which is why Milford’s expectations for the upcoming campaign are high.

Coach Andrea Fleming’s Lady Bucs are scheduled to begin the new season Sept. 9 at Appoquinimink. They’ll come home Sept. 13 for a conference game against Woodbridge.

Worth noting is that this year’s bout with rival Lake Forest will be played Oct. 1 at the University of Delaware’s “Turf Bowl.” Milford finishes the season with four straight road games, including the finale slated for Nov. 2 at St. Thomas More.

The field hockey state tournament is scheduled to begin Nov. 9.

Boys’ soccer

Despite a slow start to last season and multiple injuries to key players throughout the year, the Milford boys’ soccer team managed to go .500 on the year including a first round Division II playoff loss to Archmere.

Entering 2016, head coach Todd French will need to figure out a way to replace a talented group that graduated after last year – including midfielders Derrick Bogan and Evenson Dieudonne and keeper Ty ler Millman.

The new schedule will again put the Buccaneers right in the fire, as they begin play Sept. 10 versus powerhouse Appoquinimink in Dover as part of the Upstate/Downstate Challenge. Then Milford’s first home game, which is slated for Sept. 13, is versus Henlopen North foe Sussex Tech.

Defending Division II state champion Indian River comes to Milford Sept. 22 and the squad plays at rival Lake Forest one week later.

Nonconference Sussex Central on Oct. 27 is Milford’s last scheduled opponent and the Division II state tourney is set to begin Nov. 8.

Girls’ volleyball

One more win. That’s all that separated last year’s Milford volleyball team from a winning season.

Still, a program that is considered relatively new finishing 7-8 isn’t bad by any means.

With just two seniors graduated from last year’s squad, head coach Gary Wissler will look to get the team to a winning mark this campaign.

Milford begins the season Sept. 13 at home versus Sussex Tech. Rival Lake Forest hosts the Buccaneers on Sept. 29.

An away match at powerhouse Caesar Rodney scheduled for Oct. 27 is Milford’s final regular season match.

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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