Mavericks surpass a tough Walled Lake Western team


Time expires with the Mavericks up over the Warriors, 18-15 (Photos courtesy of Jerry Rea).

Jack Beyer, Staff Writer

“In 14 years, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game like that,” said Milford’s Head Coach Garfrey Smith when being interviewed by the Oakland Press. Smith is referring to the Milford football team’s miraculous win over Walled Lake Western on Sept. 24. Many fans of the varsity football team say this is the best game in Milford football history.

Coming into the big game on Sept. 24, Milford was 3-1 for the first time since 2012, led by Senior Captains Billy Sternberg, Trey Hayes, Brandon Gibson (BG), and Charlie Griesbeck. By beating New Boston Huron, Walled Lake Northern, and Walled Lake Central, the team put themselves on the map for the first time in nine years. However, Walled Lake Western was said to be Milford’s biggest test of the season.

Western entered with a 2-2 overall record led by Division-1 prospect Quarterback Drew Viotto, who was looking to destroy Milford’s playoff chances. However, Western came into the game with a new feeling, the underdog position. For the first time in five years, Kosmo Omsok, a football score predictor for the Oakland Press, predicted Milford to win. This was heating up to become one of the best football games in the county.

Senior Billy Sternberg (left) handing the ball off to Sophomore running back Ryan Allen (right) to set up great position for the Milford offense (Photo courtesy of Jerry Rea).

Coming out of halftime with the score 7-0 Western, it was a dog fight. “We are playing a great game, and we are the better team,” said Smith when asked about his message towards the team at the break. “Winning this game would change the culture.”

The defensive battle continued with multiple three and outs starting the 2nd half, until the door finally blew open. Sternberg threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hayes, followed by a missed extra point, to make the game 7-6 Western with under 90 seconds left.

Then, Milford’s defense forced a huge punt, which gave the ball back to the offense. Sternberg quickly led the team to a score ,starting off with a 49-yard completion to Hayes once again to get them back in the red zone.  Then, a 4-yard touchdown shovel pass to Sophomore running back, Ryan Allen followed, which put Milford up 12-7. Milford failed on the 2-point conversion with 42 seconds left on the clock. There it was—the Mavericks were in the clear to beat Walled Lake Western for the first time in many years.

But a costly Milford mistake Milford led the Warriors to have a kick return touchdown to get them back on top with only 29 seconds remaining. “Everybody was out of it,” said Grey Rupert, the leader of the student section, clearly reminiscing about the feeling. “I was surprised people didn’t leave.”

With only a few plays left and the ball on Milford’s 25-yard line, Sternberg and the offense set out to become hometown heroes. “They gave me too much time,” said Sternberg when asked about his first thought going into the critical must score situation.

The first play started with Sternberg throwing to Gibson, who was wide open for a 31-yard pick up.

“Once we had the first completion to BG, I knew we were about to win,” stated Sternberg. A huge pass interference call on the Warriors had the Mavericks setting up shop at the 16-yard line.

Senior Lucas Theriault jumps up to make a tremendous grab for the game-winning touchdown against Walled Lake Western. The Mavs scored two touchdowns in the last minute (Photo courtesy of Jerry Rea).

On the following play, Sternberg hit his 6-foot-4-inch receiver, Lucas Theriault, for a touchdown as he jumped in front of the Warrior defender to create an unbelievable catch.

The place went crazy. Coaches ran onto the field, the student section was screaming and jumping, while the Western sideline was silent in disbelief.

“It felt amazing,” said Theriault when asked about his reaction. “We didn’t give up and we were able to finish what we started.” With Western receiving the kick and attempting the lateral strategy to hopefully have a huge play, it was quickly interrupted by Junior Nolan Ogg.

That was it. Final score, Milford-18, Walled Lake Western-15.

The student section ran onto the field screaming and celebrating with the team. Coaches had to drag their players out of the large crowd for the post game talk.

The players stood up, broke down their huddle, and went to celebrate. Multiple pictures were taken with family and friends, players were interviewed by local newspapers, everything was happening at once.

“That was the craziest game I have ever been a part of in my coaching career,” stated Smith. Best of all, Mo Bamba was played in the shed after the game.

The shed is the little wood structure at the scoreboard side of the field that serves as the football team’s “locker room.”

“It was so hype,” said Junior wide receiver Noel DeLand. “Seeing Dida (Alex Didario) and Coach Waz (Waznich) dancing. Coach Taylor dancing too. It was one of the best environments I’ve ever been in, being around all of my friends and getting hype.”

It was indeed a hype game, having three score changes in under a minute. This game will serve as an example for years to come on why a team should never give.

Brandon Gibson (8) celebrates with the “MavPack” after the comeback win (Photo courtesy of Emma Gasser).

It was also a cherry on top for all the Seniors as they had beat Walled Lake Western on their Senior Night. This will forever be known as perhaps the greatest comeback in Milford Football history.