Broken Wings: Mavs end losing streak against Eagles to earn playoff spot


Senior Max Cremeans celebrates after scoring the first Maverick touchdown. The Mavs led 14-7 at halftime (Photo courtesy of Jerry Rea Photography).

Jack Beyer, Sports Editor

Many players and students at both Milford and Lakeland High School consider “The Game” the most important of the season. Thousands of people packed the football stands on Friday, Oct. 21 to watch the Huron Valley rivalry.

However, something was different about this year. A new team was the underdog. The Mavericks walked in with a chip on their shoulder, realizing what was at stake. Both teams came in with a 4-4 record, and only one could make the MHSAA Playoffs, meaning this could be the seniors’ last chance to play the game they love, earn a playoff spot in back-to-back years, finish with a winning record, and most importantly, beat Lakeland for the first time in 10 years. This was it.

With captains Wyatt Lesnew, Danny Sternberg, Ryan Allen and honorary captain Brady Flanigan going out for the coin toss and getting Milford’s offense on the field first, it was looking to be a dog fight. With Junior Mason Stislicki out to kickoff, the game of the year started with Milford chants of “Beat Lakeland.”

Milford’s offense started out hot. Run plays from Allen, Senior Max Cremeans and Junior Peyton Chamberlain would drive them down the field all the way to the 20-yard line before Allen would hit Cremeans in the endzone for the first touchdown of the game. With the successful extra point by Stislicki, Milford took a quick 7-0 lead.

“I think everyone who heard the play call expected it to be a touchdown,” said MHS Head Coach Andrew Micovich. “Ryan threw a nice ball and Max did what he needed to do. Scoring on that first drive was extremely important for our morale.”

After the touchdown, the Maverick’s number 1 Lakes Valley Conference defense would get its first opportunity. They would force a three and out on the Eagles first drive of the game, and continue their dominance the entire night.

“Getting the first three and out was huge for our team’s momentum and confidence,” said Coach Matt Wasnich (Waz), Milford’s Defensive Coordinator. “I knew that if we were able to accomplish that, we were setting ourselves up for the best position possible for the rest of the game.”

However, Lakeland would bounce back and force a three and out on the Mavs, then drive down the field for their only score. Eagles Junior quarterback Sean Latham scored a rushing touchdown and the extra point evened the score. This, however, would not faze the Milford offense. They would start on their own 20 yard-line the next possession, and once again drive down the field, capped off by an Allen rushing touchdown. With the extra point good from Stislicki, the Mavs had a 14-7 lead with nine minutes left in the second quarter.

Both defenses would once again pitch three and outs before the Eagles made a lengthy drive. They started at their own 40, driving the ball down to the Mavericks 16 yard-line. Junior safety Tyler Freer intercepted Latham. “It felt great,” Freer said of his second interception of the year.  “We went man coverage on that play and all our DBs do great in man. I just did my job and let them know not to throw my way again.”

That interception would lead to a Mavericks drive, taking them all the way down to the 20-yard line, before the Eagles would block an attempted field goal. That would lead to halftime, with the Mavs being up over the Eagles, 14-7.

Coming out of halftime, both sides had mixed feelings. Milford fans felt they had played well enough to be up by more than 7, but Lakeland fans were stunned to be losing at all after a decade of dominance.

“My message during halftime was something we’ve been praising all season long,” said Waz. “There’s three things that are important to us while playing football: passion, execution, and loving one another. If you are able to do that every game, winning is inevitable.”  The Maverick defense started the third quarter by quickly forcing a turnover to give the Milford offense the ball back. However, a quick turnover by the Mavericks would give the Eagles another opportunity. The stalemate continued as both defenses held in a defensive shutdown, but the Maverick offense got hot again in the fourth quarter.

After Lakeland punted the ball back early in the fourth, Allen and the Milford offense set up shop at their own 27-yard line. Multiple rushes from the Allen, Cremeans and Chamberlain trio set up a 32-yard Chamberlain reception to put the offense just outside of the red zone. Allen would cap off the drive with a 24-yard rushing touchdown. With a successful extra-point attempt from Stislicki once again, Milford had a 21-7 lead with a little over six minutes left in the game. “Scoring that second rushing touchdown and going up two scores on them felt groundbreaking,” said Allen. “The energy in the stadium and the energy from the student section really made the moment feel surreal.”

This would put the Lakeland offense on the field once again, but they were no match for the toughness and resilience of the Milford defense. Latham would drop back to throw a bomb, however, it would end up being intercepted by Senior cornerback Josh Tobias to seal the game. All the Mavs had to do was drain time off the clock, but they did more than that. Allen would go on to score his third rushing touchdown of the game with the help of his heavy package offensive line. Cremeans rushed in a two-point conversion, ending the scoring.

And there it was: for the first time in 10 years, the Milford Mavericks beat the Lakeland Eagles, 29-7. The Mavpack rushed the field to congratulate the team as players were crying tears of joy and screaming their lungs out in happiness. Celebratory pictures, hugs and euphoria took over the field. This was not an ordinary win—this was a culture-changing win.

“It was something straight out of a book or movie,” said Waz. “Watching Coach Micovich get drenched with water by some of the players, to the handshake line, to seeing the wonderful students that show up each and every week storm the field. It was pure joy and happiness! To see the students and community of Milford get the celebration they deserved was unbelievable! You couldn’t ask for a more picture perfect moment.”

This was a monumental win for not only the school, but for the community of Milford. This game will forever be remembered as one of the greatest games to be played on Milford High School grounds. The Mavs will be taking on the Dexter Dreadnaughts on Friday, Oct. 28. Make sure to come out and support the team as they look to make a run in this year’s playoffs. Go Mavs!