Milford High School 2015 spring sports previews

Milford High's boys' lacrosse team. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford High’s boys’ lacrosse team. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

MILFORD — Spring brings with it a new sports season.

And at Milford High, the season has also come with a lot of coaching changes.

Four new head coaches, in fact, are leading Buccaneers teams this spring.

New at their positions, at least, as all but one of them have been involved with Milford sports over the years.

The new person? Girls’ soccer head coach Allie Ford.

A former Division II soccer player at Goldey-Beacom College, Ford was a four-year varsity player at Dover High. She and assistant coach Jeff Miller both work for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base.

Former Milford jump coach Charlie Pollard is now the head man in charge of a tradition-laden Buccaneers track and field program. Prior to taking over for longtime Bucs leader Czar Bloom, who is now the athletic director at Polytech, Pollard was a head coach at Cape Henlopen and jump coach for Sussex Tech during a 15-year span.

Paul Williamson is now the head coach of Milford’s boys’ tennis team. Williamson, whose grandson Colt is the Buccaneers’ No. 1 singles player, has been a program assistant in the past.

Last but not least, coming off its best season in program history, Milford’s boys’ lacrosse program is being led into the 2015 campaign by Blake Faulkner. Faulkner not only has helped coach Milford High teams in recent years but also is one of the main cogs in the city’s youth lacrosse program.

Not everything is different at the campus though.

Nick Brannan is back as the baseball head coach, and his Bucs are looking to put last year’s struggles behind them.

Over on the softball diamond, Drew Holleger returns to lead a talented team capable of making a state tournament run.

Girls’ tennis head coach Jacquelyn Powers is back too and her Lady Bucs are off to a 1-0 start entering the weekend.

Following is a quick look at Milford’s spring sports programs.

Baseball

Head coach: Nick Brannan

2014 record: 6-12

Outlook: Last season was an unkind and uncommon one for anyone familiar with Milford’s baseball team.

Shawn Snowden and the Milford baseball team figure to score several runs this season. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Shawn Snowden and the Milford baseball team figure to score several runs this season. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

And nobody is more anxious to put that behind them than head coach Nick Brannan.

Coming off a 6-12 season, Brannan has the Buccaneers already out to a 2-0 start in 2015 with wins over Seaford and Tower Hill.

“Not being on anyone’s radar is something that the kids are taking personal,” Brannan said. “And I think that’s great motivation for us to work towards the way we feel we should be performing as a program.”

Leading the way for Milford this year is a group of eight seniors. They are infielder Thomas Jordan, outfielder Thomas Saxon, pitcher/outfielder Dustin Reeder, pitcher Tyler Benton, pitcher Cole Davis, pitcher Taylor Reynolds, pitcher Cole Attix and outfielder Gunner Stanley.

What could separate Milford from the rest of the Henlopen South and possible overall conference is its pitching depth. Seven Bucs on the roster are listed solely as pitchers and three more can take the mound and play other positions as well.

“We have about 10 kids that have potential to be pitchers this year, and we are actually using a pitching staff like you would see at the college level,” Brannan said. “I feel very confident out pitching is going to be one of our strengths this year.”

Defense will also be a priority this year.

“We’re going to try and play a lot cleaner than we have in the recent past,” Brannan said of keeping errors to a minimum.

If all goes well, it’s not hard to figure Milford will be back in the division race and playoff chase as the season draws toward its close.

“The South is always competitive, as is the overall conference, we all beat up on each other,” Brannan said. “We just have to make sure we play complete games instead of partial ones.”

Milford, which was scheduled to play Delmar Monday in a game that did not finish before press time, will makeup a bout versus North Caroline (Md.) Thursday, 4:15 p.m., at home.

Softball

Head coach: Drew Holleger

2014 record: 14-6, lost in state tournament second round

Outlook: Milford’s softball team felt like it let one get away last season.

Ahead of eventual runner-up Caravel in the second round of the state tournament, things fell apart for the Lady Bucs and their season ended in a 9-5 loss.

Several key players from that 2014 squad are back this season and hope to get another shot at tournament play.

Leading the way for Milford this year are seniors Jenna Campbell, Kasey Fry, Emily Messick, Jasmine Passwaters and Haylee Scruggs. The team will also get a boost from returning sophomores starters Rajene Bowe and Megan Fry and several other talented players as well.

“We definitely feel like we can be one of the top teams in the conference,” head coach Drew Holleger said. “Our goal is to compete for a state championship.”

Milford softball has high hopes for the 2015 season. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford softball has high hopes for the 2015 season. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

While Milford’s defense will be strong up the middle with the Fry sisters and Bowe manning key positions, as well as starting pitcher Scruggs, the Bucs’ biggest weapon might be their offense.

Already the team scored 23 runs, thanks in part to four homers, in a season-opening win against Seaford. Next up for Milford, following Monday’s scheduled tilt against Delmar, is a Wednesday 4:15 p.m. home game versus Sussex Central.

Track and field

Head coach: Charlie Pollard

2014 record: Boys 6-4, girls 4-7

Outlook: Taking over for longtime coach Czar Bloom, boys’ and girls’ track and field head coach Charlie Pollard is looking to take Milford back to the top of the sport in 2015.

On the boys’ side, the task might be a little easier to accomplish. Although Class of 2014 member Ryan Thomas is off to compete at Georgia Tech, multiple Milford males are back for the new campaign.

“The boys are strong in all events,” Pollard said. “The girls’ (team) is strong in sprints and distance. We want to win a lot and give everyone the opportunity to have success in the events of their choice.

“This team is legit.”

Milford, which saw both teams take season-opening losses against Smyrna, was scheduled to be back in action Tuesday versus Seaford. From there the teams will compete in Saturday’s Keith Burgess Invitational at Lake Forest High.

Girls’ soccer

Head coach: Allie Ford

2014 record: 5-8-2

Outlook: Following a disappointing 2014 season, Milford’s girls’ soccer team will look to get back to its winning ways under first-year head coach Allie Ford.

Ford, whose younger sister still plays varsity soccer at Dover High, inherits a young team that includes just four seniors.

Two of those seniors, Corinne Bogan and Angela Gleysteen are captains this season. They are joined on the roster by classmates Sarah Jump and Ericela Roblero.

“Corinne and Angela together will bring our team morale up after a rough start to the season this year,” Ford said. “The girls didn’t know who their new coaches would be and how the season would turn out for their senior year but I believe we will succeed and become a team.”

A third captain, one to represent the underclassmen, was chosen as well. Defensive third player Daphne Leighty, a sophomore, has the potential to be a strong team leader now and in the future, Ford said.

Communication, team unity and on-field movement are all possible strengths this season, according the Bucs’ coach.

As far as goals, the obvious ones of competing for the Henlopen South and reaching the Division II state tournament are there, but the team also wants to knock off rival Lake Forest, which it was scheduled to play Tuesday night.

And there’s also Dover and coach Ford’s little sister, Katie.

“My personal goal for the team, which the players agree, is to beat Dover,” coach Ford said. “A little family rivalry never hurt.”

A narrow 2-1 loss to non-conference Cape Henlopen has the Bucs in an early hole, but the team looked to even its record in the match versus Lake. Things get even more difficult for Milford on Wednesday when it hosts Indian River at 5:30 p.m.

Following the bout with IR, Milford isn’t scheduled to take the pitch again until an April 14 home match versus Sussex Central.

Boys’ lacrosse

Head coach: Blake Faulkner

2014 record: 11-5, lost in state tournament first round

Outlook: Coming off its most successful season in program history, Milford’s boys’ lacrosse team seems to have picked up where it left off in 2014.

Under new head coach Blake Faulkner the team has already raced out to a 3-0 start with wins over Red Lion, Lake Forest and Smyrna. Through those three games, the Buccaneers outscored their opponents 41-10.

“We’re a young team, but we do have quite a few seniors to help balance that out,” Faulkner said. “This group has been with me since its eighth grade year, so they knew what to expect.”

Seniors on this year’s team are William Hopkins, Ring Lardner, Mathew Viramontes, Cody Callaway, Garrett Robbins, Matt Groce, Zachary Heesh, Ben Mitzel and Dylan Schleigh.

Viramontes already has 11 goals for the Bucs through their first three games.

With so much talent, Faulkner expects the team to compete for a spot in the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

“We want to improve on last season,” he said. “Just keep moving forward.”

The Bucs, who played Polytech Monday in a game that did not finish before press time, are scheduled to be at Indian River on Wednesday. From there the team will have a two-week break before returning to action April 15, 5:30 p.m., at defending Henlopen South champion Delmar.

Boys’ tennis

Head coach; Paul Williamson

2014 record: 11-1

Outlook: Last season was a great one for Milford’s boys’ tennis team, which suffered its only regular season loss to powerhouse Caesar Rodney.

New head coach Paul Williamson would like to keep the momentum going.

The task, however, will not be all that easy, as four key Class of 2014 seniors graduated from last season’s squad.

What will help, however, is that the Bucs’ No. 1 singles player Colt Williamson, Paul’s grandson, is the odds on favorite to win an individual state championship as a junior. Currently Colt is ranked the No. 1 18-and-under tennis player in all of Delaware.

Nick Sobota, a senior, is returning to the team and figures to be the No. 2 singles player. His former doubles partner, junior Derrick Bogan, is the likely third-singles player for the Bucs.

First-doubles duo Tyler Webb and Zheng Hui, both juniors, look to be formidable and the second-doubles team is still up for grabs.

“We have a lot of guys with good potential,” Paul Williamson said. “I’m going to predict that our starting team is going to be pretty good.”

Milford is 1-1 after a loss to St. Thomas More and a win over Lake Forest. The team was scheduled to play Seaford on Monday and then will take a two week break before coming back to play April 14 at home, 4 p.m., versus Cape Henlopen.

Girls’ tennis

Head coach: Jacquelyn Powers

2014 record: 3-9

Outlook: It’s not always about wins and losses.

Perhaps no team personifies that more than Milford girls’ tennis.

Despite just three wins a season ago, Milford remained positive throughout the campaign.

That positivity and dedication was recognized when during the annual USTA Delaware District’s awards ceremony Milford was announced as the Bunny Vosters Team Sportsmanship winner.

Milford, which opened the season with a 5-0 win over rival Lake Forest, is led by No. 1 singles player Leah Killian, a junior.

Second singles early this season is junior Esther Lee and the No. 3 spot is held down by senior Bodine de Ruijter.

Seniors Esther Alice and Hannah Uebele opened the year as the Bucs’ top doubles team, and the No. 2 squad is senior Briana Savage and sophomore Madison Rogers.

Following Monday’s scheduled match against Seaford, Milford was not slated to take the court again until an April 14 bout at Cape Henlopen.

Golf

Head coach: Jesse Parsley

2014 record: 2-11

Outlook: Emails to golf head coach Jesse Parsley were not answered, but his Milford golf team has already matched last season’s win total with a pair of victories over Henlopen South foes Indian River and Lake Forest.

Members of the 2015 team include Kyle Strassh, Colton Paquett, Korey Mitchell, Jake Adams, Zach Legg and Nick Wright.

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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