2011: THE year in Milano sports history
MILANO—It’s inception began in the sweltering heat of August during two-a-days in football and did not conclude until just days ago on the b baseball diamond in—well—the sweltering heat of May (this is Texas after all).
From football, through basketball, ‘til baseball and all the peripheral sports in between, the Milano athletic program enjoyed unprecedented success as a whole, making 2011 the year in Eagle sports history.
In one final battle, the baseball team was finally eliminated two Saturdays ago after going further than any other Eagle hardball team in history.
This group of senior boys and girls have left an indelible mark on the Milano program and set high standards for those who follow to adhere to.
“Our Eagles have had a tremendous year across the board,” said Milano ISD Superintendent Lindy Robinson.
Of course in a school the size of Milano (139 students), with a graduating class of 33 that included 19 boys, there’s not a whole lot of time to gather your thoughts and reflect on the success you’ve just had.
You step off the field, right on the court. You step off the court onto the diamond and so on and so forth.
For example, senior everyman Thomas Sanders participated in the state track meet and the state baseball playoffs within a few hours of each other.
It’s unlikely Sanders was able to soak in any of the state track meet atmosphere.
“Well, it was amazing to even be at the state meet,” Sanders said. “Just the experience of that would have made my senior year memorable enough. But then speeding to Thorndale to beat Fayetteville put the cherry on top.
“I will never forget the feeling of pride I had to be from Milano.”
Sanders and his fellow seniors registered a 21-4 record in district play in the three major sports.
The football team laid the groundwork for the school year by going 8-4, finishing second in District 26A and recording the school’s second playoff victory.
“I don’t know if it was the best year ever but as a coach it has been the best for me,” said head football coach Craig Jentsch. “To me this is a great accomplishment for our students. It shows the quality of student athletes that we have here in Milano.
As a quarterback, Sanders re-wrote the Eagles’ record book when it comes to offensive production.
He bruised and battered his way to 2,981 total yards, including a school-record 1,786 yards on the ground.
Sanders also accounted for 38 touchdowns (22 rushing, 16 passing) and earned All-State recognition.
The basketball team picked up the gauntlet and whisked through the league slate unbeaten and found themselves ranked No. 5 in the state with a 27-4 record.
Milano recorded its first playoff victory since 1997 in dramatic fashion when Jaxson Robinson threw in a prayer with 4.8 seconds showing to sink high-flying Mumford and former teammate Aubrie King.
They fell in the regional quarterfinals the next week to Final Four entrant Evadale.
“It takes great kids to be successful and we have great kids in Milano,” says head basketball coach Robbie Robinson. “Coaching them has been a true pleasure and experiencing the accolades of a ‘banner’ year with them has been very rewarding.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach the graduating seniors since they were in the eighth grade, so seeing them grow and mature from boys into young men has been a great experience.”
Despite the late start, the baseball team didn’t miss a beat and finished second in district to earn just the third post-season position (1998, 2000) in school history.
The hardball team then traveled further than the two previous playoff teams, falling to Mart in the regional quarterfinals.
Running concurrently with baseball, Sanders shifted backand forth and made his way to the state track meet along with pole vaulter Brandon Garza.
Sanders placed fifth before speeding off to a baseball playoff game. Garza was eighth.
Their trip to state by the duo was the first by a Milano boy since 2004.
The Eagles’ golf team finished fourth in district, the highest placement ever for the golf team.
In tennis, Robinson and Wynton Thomason returned to regional for the third straight time, but earned a medal for the first time.
In boys singles, Trevor Gage reached the regional tournament.
Individually, freshman Justin Grimes ran to regional in cross country and powerlifter Jamie Czajkowski earned a trip to the state meet.
On the girls side, Wendy King’s spikers turned in their usual superb season with a 35- 11 record and a 10th consecutive playoff appearance before bowing to state power Round Top-Carmine in the regional quarterfinals.
Under first-year coach Virginia Beard, the Lady Eagles’ hoops squad came out of nowhere to claim a co-championship with Thrall and made their first playoff showing since 2000.
The softball team chalked up just the school’s fifth post-season nod.
“The girls were very successful making the playoffs in all three as well,” Jentsch said. “It was a very productive year and I have been blessed to have been a part of the students success.”
“It is hard to put it in to words but if there is a word that describes it for me it would be proud,” said Jentsch. “Yes, having success is good but I am proud of our students for believing in our program and working hard everyday to be successful and I am proud of the community for supporting our students.”