Strickland to be named to Milford 12th Man Gridiron Hall of Fame

DOVER — William “Bill” Strickland will be honored by the Milford 12th Man Gridiron Club when he is one of four former Buccaneer football players inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony, which will also include inductees Jason Kollock, Clay Turner and Chris Drummond, will take place at halftime of Milford’s first home game of the season against Delaware Military Academy Sept. 16.

A 1979 Milford High graduate, Mr. Strickland was the starting quarterback for two years which merited two varsity letters. His outstanding play on the field also earned him First Team Henlopen All- Conference and Second Team All- State honors.

Mr. Strickland was surprised when he received a call from his former Milford assistant coach, Jack Simon, informing him of his induction into the Hall of Fame.

strickland photo 1.jpg“When Jack called and told me about being one of this year’s inductees I was certainly humbled and very honored,” said Mr. Strickland, who is now the owner and president of the L& W Insurance Agency located in Dover.

Bill will actually be the second Strickland to take the field during the Milford home opener.

“It’s hard to believe that my son, Shaun, is now the head varsity coach at Milford,” he said. “I never had any idea that his professional direction would take him back to my hometown and the school where I played football. I think Shaun is really excited about my induction because it will be a special time for our family.”

While he eventually settled into the insurance business, Strickland was on a different employment path after graduating from Salisbury State College (now Salisbury University).

“My first job out of college was doing sports for the Milford Chronicle,” he said. “I worked for them for about a year before taking a news reporter job at WBOC.

“Working for the Chronicle was one of the most enjoyable years of my life because I covered sports in my hometown. I also enjoyed my time at WBOC because I could be covering a United States Senator’s press conference in Wilmington in the morning and then covering the Lifeguard Olympics in Rehoboth Beach later that day.”

Mr. Strickland’s Milford quarterback career did get off to a rocky start.

Strickland“I was actually going to be the starting quarterback during my sophomore year but I dislocated my elbow when I was cleaning a backboard at home and fell off a ladder,” said Mr. Strickland, who also earned four varsity letters playing centerfield for the Milford High baseball team.

“I loved baseball more than football until my senior year. That’s when football became my passion and I’ve loved it ever since.”

That passion for football became a Strickland family tradition.

“Shaun and his twin brother, Justin, both played football at Caesar Rodney,” said Mr. Strickland. “Justin, who is now in the insurance business with me, played football at Wesley where I’m now on the Board of Trustees and Shaun played college football at Lehigh.

“The lessons I have learned from high school football I apply today in my business and life.”

Sports were the centerpiece of Mr. Strickland’s childhood days in Milford.

“Football and the other sports I played were great because I was able to play them with the core group of my best friends,” he said. “That core group I played with as a senior were also the ones I played with on an undefeated Pop Warner team when I was in the eighth grade.”

Milford won just one game during Mr. Strickland’s junior year. The Bucs, however, quickly rebounded the following season by posting a 7-3 record that came very close to earning the team a spot in the state tournament.

“We had a very good chance of playing in the state tournament my senior year,” he said. “The three games we lost were by a combined six points, and a win in either one of them would have put us in the state tournament. Actually, we were inside the fiveyard line in the waning moments of both the games against Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen before fumbling in each of them.”

Having his name on a hall of fame plaque that will be placed on the football stadium’s ticket booth is something Mr. Strickland will always remember.

“It will always be a reminder of some of the best years of my life,” he said. “I will look at it and remember all those special times I spent at Milford.”

In addition to his sons, Mr. Strickland, who played in the 1979 Blue/Gold Football Game, will be accompanied by his wife, Okemah, during the induction ceremony.

Bill Mitchell can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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