The Milford High School football team feels good going into this week’s game against Portsmouth.
It’s not because the Spartans are playing the Clippers – Portsmouth won two meetings last year by a combined 91-3 – but because of how Milford has handled itself so far this season.
The Spartans (2-0 division, 3-1 overall) are coming off a 14-0 win at Con-Val in a game that was played on one of the worst playing surfaces Milford has been on since moving to Division III, according to coach Keith Jones.
“That’s one of those games, to be honest, the field was the equalizer,” Jones said. “I would have taken 2-0 and been happy. That was seven inches of mud. We haven’t played on a field like that since the finals in 2003. The Monadnock field was like that.
“It was ridiculous. You couldn’t get traction, there was no trench game. It was a sloppy mess of people falling down. Whoever didn’t slip could make a play. It was nice to get out of there with a win, and it was a good win.”
Milford’s field should be in better condition when the Spartans and Clippers (3-0, 3-1) meet Friday at 7 p.m. No matter the weather, Jones is glad to have the game in Milford after playing two games on the seacoast last year. The Spartans have also been on the road for the last three weeks, a stretch that included two Saturday games.
“It’s nice to be home after a long road trip,” Jones said. “It’s just getting them out of their element. Although, the last time they were here, we weren’t very successful either. It’s not like we’re praying for rain. Last week against Pelham, it was a downpour and they had no problem still throwing the football.”
While the Clippers offense will be tough for the Spartans to slow down, the key for Milford will be up front. The Spartans strength is in their lines, and they’ll have to go against two Portsmouth units that include Ricky Holt.
“They’re pretty good,” Jones said. “You’ve got to buckle up. If we get out physicaled, we’re going to have a long day. Everything we do starts with that. If you’re going to get pushed around up front it’s going to be a long day.”
The Spartans were pushed around in their only loss of the season – a 21-0 defeat at Tyngsborough – but even in that game, Jones felt his defense did a decent job.
“That’s the only game we didn’t play well,” he said. “People were going to the right places, they were making the correct blocks. The defense played awesome. It’s been outstanding.”
If Milford’s defense is unable to win the battle up front against Portsmouth, that will allow Clippers’ quarterback Billy Hartmann plenty of time to find receivers and make room for explosive running back Bill Lane. If that happens, the Spartans will be in trouble.
“We’re just going to have to buckle up and prepare,” Jones said.