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Seniors Spark Turnaround for MHS Football

Playing their farewell game on Thanksgiving were MHS seniors, Class of 2015. They are, l-r, Back Row Stevan Luna, Sean Burns, Earl Bassett, Eric Brogioli, Pete Shuler, Will Johnson, Nylik Feaster, Jonathan Rodriguez, David Abrego and Quentin Orr. Front Row: Maurice Kimba, Nick Canning, Tommy Trautwein, John Hearns, Mike Casey, Geo Tuttle, Chris Spasaro and Shawn Arquilliano. Not pictured were Brandon Rodriguez and Nick Canning. Contributed photo


As Joe Todd sat on the phone in his office, in front of him was a picture of the seniors on the Milford High football team. Fitting, since most of our conversation was devoted to them. The group of 20 has been instrumental in a sharp one-season turnaround for the Scarlet Hawks program. A year ago, Milford was a two-win team. This year, the Scarlet Hawks earned a spot in the postseason and a 6-4 record heading into Thanksgiving.
"We have made some strides as a coaching staff, but give credit to our seniors first and foremost," Todd said. "They believe, they buy into the system and it has been great to see. They understood this was a new year and a new challenge and they never stopped working. They showed a lot of talent and leadership."
Quarterback John Hearns, running back Connor Orr, and wide receiver Pete Schuler grabbed many of the headlines this season. That's what comes with playing key skill positions and finding the end zone more often than some of their teammates. But Todd is quick to credit all 20 seniors to a man.
"A guy like (wide receiver) Stevan Luna was integral to what we were trying to do," he said. "He is a Hockomock League All-Star and one of the best blockers on the team. We sprang a lot of long plays because of his blocking."
Milford finished the regular season 4-3, good enough to earn the fourth seed in the Division 3 Southwest playoffs. They set a school record with 440 yards rushing in a first-round win over Hopkinton before falling in the semi-final to top-seeded Walpole. The Hawks bounced back last week for a win over an 8-1 Stoughton team that had gotten the better of MHS 49-21 back in the third week of the season. "That win was the culmination of everything we have been trying to do all season," Todd said of the 24-21 victory.
The process is something that matters a great deal to the second-year head coach. While fans may have been critical of last year's results, Todd and his seniors kept their focus on improving this year. "It's about what you are doing and how you are maximizing your potential with what you have," he said. "It's about running a program where players work hard, learn, and stay loyal to their coaches and teammates. People don't always see these things because they just see the games and a won-lost record, but this is a team that worked hard and has finally come together."
That doesn't mean Todd didn't feel pressure, just not from anyone outside his locker room. "No one was going to put more pressure on me than I was," he said. "I felt pressure from myself coming into a situation where everyone wants to win. That was the elephant in the room."
Thanks in large part to its seniors, the Scarlet Hawks guaranteed themselves a winning season before taking the field on Thanksgiving. "It comes down to love of the game," Todd said. "If you love football, it doesn't matter what your record is, you prepare to the best of your ability and you prepare to win. Our seniors bought into that this year. They were hungry and they understood what it means to compete."




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