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The Drought Is Over; Eagles To Return To Football Playoffs Friday At Sycamore

Posted on: November 1, 2017

SETTING THE SCENE: The 2017 OHSAA Football Playoffs have arrived and for the first time since 1986, the Milford Eagles will be a participant. The Eagles, tri-champions of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference this season earned the No. 5 position in Division I, Region 4 and will travel to No. 4 Sycamore for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday night. The Aves home stadium is on the campus of Sycamore Junior High on Cooper Road. Both squads enter the contest with identical 8-2 records, with the Aves qualifying for the playoffs for a third straight season and the Eagles breaking a 30-year playoff drought. The winner will advance to the second round of the playoffs where they will square off with the winner of No. 1 St. Xavier and No. 8 Fairfield.

 

A LOOK BACK: Oct. 27 vs. West Clermont: Milford’s dreams of an outright Eastern Cincinnati Conference Championship came up just short as the Eagles dropped a 35-28 decision to West Clermont on a rain-soaked Oct. 27. With the Wolves victory, the 2017 conference title will be shared by Anderson, Milford and West Clermont. In addition, all three squads are expected to earn a berth when the 2017 playoff field is revealed on Sunday afternoon.

 

Trailing by seven with just over 1:30 to play, the Eagles (8-2, 6-1 ECC) forced a West Clermont punt near midfield. Needing to score to force overtime, senior Dax Creager made the play of the night, blocking the Wolves’ punt, scooping it and rumbling all the way to the six-yard field. Needing just six yards to tie the score, Milford was forced to fourth down when QB Blake King was hit and fumbled, sealing the win and playoff berth for West Clermont (7-3, 6-1 ECC).

 

The night started out great for Milford as touchdown runs by King at the 6:08 mark of the first quarter and 11:35 of the second pushed the Senior Night crowd into a frenzy as the Eagles took a 14-0 lead. The advantage didn’t last long as West Clermont scored 14 quick points to tie the game.

 

Click here to read the full game recap and click here for the final Milford-West Clermont game stats.

 

A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: A look at Sycamore, Milford’s 2017 OHSAA First Round Playoff opponent:

  • Friday, Nov. 3 at Sycamore, 7:30 p.m.
    • 2017 Record: 8-2, 6-2 GMC (T-4th Division I area coaches’ weekly poll)
    • Top Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Drew Altemuehle (1275 yards passing, 223 yards rushing, 13 total TDs)
    • Top Defensive Players: Senior DB Patruck Tueimeh (58 tackles, 3 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles)
    • Last Meeting: 2006; Sycamore 42, Milford 0

 

THE MATCH-UP: A look at the Milford-Sycamore match-up by the numbers (per game averages with conference team rankings):

  • Milford scoring offense (2nd-33.9) vs. Sycamore scoring defense (3rd-12.5)
  • Milford total offense (3rd-334.1) vs. Sycamore total defense (4th-240.6)
  • Milford rushing offense (8th-110.3) vs. Sycamore rushing defense (4th-155.3)
  • Milford passing offense (2nd-223.8) vs. Sycamore passing defense (2nd-85.3)
  • Sycamore scoring offense (4th-23.8) vs. Milford scoring defense (3rd-21.1)
  • Sycamore total offense (3rd-309.5) vs. Milford total defense (4th-312.9)
  • Sycamore rushing offense (7th-159.0) vs. Milford rushing defense (5th-180.2)
  • Sycamore passing offense (2nd-159.0) vs. Milford passing defense (6th-132.7)

 

INSIDE THE PLAYOFFS: Milford qualified for the playoffs as the No. 5 team in Division I, Region 4. A look at the Region 4 match-ups: No. 8 Fairfield at No. 1 St. Xavier, No. 7 Moeller at No. 2 Colerain, No. 6 West Clermont at No. 3 Mason and No. 5 Milford at No. 4 Sycamore.

 

In Division II, Anderson of the ECC secured the No. 3 seed in Region 8 and will open the playoffs hosting No. 6 Troy.

 

INSIDE THE ECC: West Clermont’s stunning Week 10 win over the Eagles produced a three-way tie for the 2017 ECC Championship with Anderson the third team in the trio. For Milford, it was its first league championship since winning the Eastern Metro League in 1986. Milford, Anderson and West Clermont will all represent the ECC in the playoffs this year.

 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A look at Milford’s statistical leaders:

Rushing Yards: Cameron Kells (479)

Passing Yards: Blake King (2,049)

Receiving Yards: Dylan Hughes (564)

Tackles: Bryce Dugan (107)

Sacks: Bryce Dugan (6.0)

Interceptions: Evan Baugh (4), Adam Bartrum/Luken Dalessandro/Bryce Dugan/Ryan Hezlep/Dustin Laudermilk/Sam Pickett (1)

Kickoff Return Yards: Evan Baugh (322)

Punting Average: Robbie McQueary (37.8)

Punt Return Yards: Evan Baugh (204)

 

POLL WATCH: Milford finished tied for seventh with league rival West Clermont in the final Cincinnati Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll of 2017. The five voting coaches agreed that St. Xavier was No. 1 with Colerain, Elder and a tie between Mason and Sycamore rounding out the top-five.

 

In Division II, Anderson finished third, leading four teams in the top-10. Kings took sixth in the final rankings with Loveland and Turpin tying for eighth. Withrow also received votes in the final rankings. The final coaches’ poll of the year can be viewed at preps.cincinnati.com/coachespolls.

 

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Two of Milford’s eight victories this season have been decided in the latter stages of the fourth quarter and both times senior QB Blake King and junior RB Cameron Kells have hooked up for the winning score. In the season-opening 42-39 win over Oak Hills, King found Kells from four yards out with just 13 seconds remaining to steal the win. In Week 9, the duo did it again, this time from eight yards out with 2:55 to play to secure a 41-40 win over Anderson. The irony of each play was the same winning play call on both occasions.

 

WHAT A SEASON: The first season under head coach Tom Grippa has included some major highlights including a win in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown, the reclaiming of the Miami Township Victory Bell and long awaited wins over league foes Turpin and Kings. The victory over the Knights was especially big as it improved the Eagles’ season record to 6-1, clinching the first winning season by a Milford football team since 2000. Perhaps the biggest win, however came in Week 9 when the Eagles clinched at least a share of the 2017 ECC Championship with a thrilling victory over state-ranked Anderson.

 

“SPECIAL” TEAMS: Among the many positives to the start of the 2017 season for the Eagles has been the exception play of its special teams. Milford’s return teams have been game-changing, while the kick block squad has also made an impact. A look at some of the special teams highlights to date by game:

  • Oak Hills: blocked two extra point attempts by the Highlanders; Evan Baugh (69 yards) and Dylan Hughes (60 yards) each tallied lengthy kickoff returns that led to Milford touchdowns.
  • Dixie Heights: returned two punts for touchdowns; one an 87-yard bolt by Evan Baugh and the second a 39-yard dash by Dustin Loudermilk.
  • Turpin: senior Robbie McQueary took over the punting duties for the first time, averaging nearly 40 yards in three punts, including a long of 47.
  • Loveland: Evan Baugh continued his heroics returning kicks, totaling 107 yards between four combined kick and punt returns.
  • Walnut Hills: Evan Baugh returned punts for 31 and 22 yards, each setting up a touchdown. Meanwhile, Robbie McQueary averaged 43.5 yards per punt, including a season-long of 52 yards.
  • Kings: Robbie McQueary’s stellar punting continued as he averaged 42.7 yards on three kicks, while placing three inside the Knights’ 20.
  • Withrow: Robbie McQueary continued his stretch of 40.0+ average punting performances with a pair of boots averaging an even 40.0.
  • Anderson: Evan Baugh returned a kickoff 56 yards to set up an Eagles’ touchdown. It marked Baugh’s sixth return of at least 20 yards this season.
  • West Clermont: Dax Creager nearly became the hero of the night as he blocked a Wolves’ punt with just over a minute remaining before returning it to the six-yard line as the Eagles tried for the game-tying touchdown.

 

WHAT A DEBUT: When head coach Tom Grippa arrived in Milford, he did so with a reputation for favoring a high-octane offense and he wasted no time in unleashing it in the opener against Oak Hills. Against the Highlanders, Blake King (295 yards passing) and Jake Ayler (160 yards receiving) posted the best individual performances by a Milford player in those categories in at least a decade. King also did damage with his legs, becoming the first Milford player since Chase Witte last season to score four touchdowns.

 

TICKET TALK: Milford has an allotted amount of tickets for Friday night’s game at Sycamore. Click here for more ticket information.