By Chris Chaney
The Milford Eagles haven’t had the season that they envisioned when camp opened during the dog days of summer, however head coach Shane Elkin is confident that the Eagles have the personnel, especially down the depth chart, that will allow them to turn the program around.
Following a 30-0 loss to Walnut Hills on Oct. 19, Milford fell to 1-8 on the year and 0-5 in their inaugural season in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference. The Eagles won their lone game of the season back on Sept. 14 in a 48-0 drubbing of Woodward.
Winless since that time, Elkin and his team are still going into every week with the mindset of getting better and making progress each day in practice.
“From my perspective, where we’re at with our season, we have a large number of freshman and sophomores players on our team,” Elkin said. “We’re in the middle 60s with our freshman and sophomores.
“As it is with our juniors and seniors, though, we only have about half of that. That’s a difficulty in the sense that the juniors and seniors are the transition group from when I took over the program and when I made changes to expectations, we lost a pretty big chunk of them and it’s really turned into a numbers game. At any given time, 50-60 percent of the kids on the field are sophomores and we’re trying to compete against juniors and seniors on the field.”
Of those upperclassmen that have made the transition into the Elkin era, Cy Overbeck, Cade Williams, Dan Thibodeau and David Chesnut have been mainstays for the Eagles this season.
While Milford hasn’t really been much of a passing team this year, Elkin says it’s not a knock on the senior quarterback, Overbeck, but more of a testament to the running game that had the Eagles near the top of the league halfway through the season.
“We were rolling through week six,” Elkin said. “We were one of the top teams in the league rushing, yards per carry and we were a pretty effective rushing team. We weren’t as effective passing the ball for a couple of different reasons, but probably the biggest reason is that we have a really good tailback in Cade Williams.
Williams, a 5-foot-10, 175 lb., senior averages 5.5 yards per carry and 117.5 yards per game despite not having his best stuff over the last three weeks.
“He’s had a couple of bad games here recently, but even with those bad games, he;s still fourth in the league in rushing and he’s poised to have an 11-1,200-yard season if he has a good game against Loveland (next week).
“When he touches the ball, he does some real special things, but he got injured in the Kings game, but he’s back to 100-percent now.”
Williams’ injury was coupled with the fact that the Eagles’ offensive lineman Hunter Losekamp was injured earlier in the year. As a result, the Milford offense has had some trouble scoring points in the past few games. Losekamp is expected to be back for the season finale as the Eagles host Loveland Oct. 26.
Even with those two out, Elkin’s team was able to rush for over 200 yards against Turpin using a couple of sophomores in David DiSilvestro and Jack Young.
“The thing that needs to happen is that our rushing and passing games need to mesh together,” Elkin said. “What teams have done the past couple of weeks is just crowd the box and try to shut down our rushing game and dare us to throw the ball, which we haven’t been as effective.”
Although most of the games haven’t gone the Eagles’ way, Elkin is confident that with the experience gained by his players that Milford will be able to continue to improve and build upon this season.
“One of the things that we are excited about for the future is that it’s a double-edged sword for us this year,” the coach said. “We’re playing a lot of young kids this year and as I’ve explained to our kids, those are the circumstances that we’ve been dealt in terms of who we have to play.
“It’s a shame for the seniors that our going out in terms of wins and losses, but next year we’re going to be bringing back probably seven kids who have seen significant time on the offense and defense in that sophomore class.
“In terms of special teams, practically every kid on the field is a sophomore, so even if they aren’t playing offense or defense on Friday night, they’re seeing snaps on special teams.”
Elkin expects that he will have nine kids next year ready to fill in on defense, giving the Eagles two years of full playing time for the majority of their unit. On offense, the coach is encouraged by what he has seen on junior varsity at various positions.
“Even though we lose (Overbeck) and (Williams), Tyler Voth, Daniel Thibodeau and David Chesnut, we’re bringing back some kids who are going to be battle-tested because of some of the circumstances that we had this year.”
The Eagles wrap up their season with senior night on Oct. 26 when they host 5-4 (2-3) Loveland at 7:30pm.