Eagles ready for district play with a healthy roster
The Eagles will host No. 9 Burton (4-1) at Pruett Field on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine has labeled Milano’s new District 13-A as the toughest in Division II.
Three of the league’s six teams played 12 games last season and each had at least 10 wins.
Burton is currently ranked No. 9 in the latest statewide poll, but had been ranked as high as 3. The Panthers were the preseason favorite to win the league title.
The Eagles are picked second, followed by Granger. Bartlett is picked fourth, but returns six starters from its 2011 team. Picked at the bottom are Somerville and Snook.
Burton is coming off a 46-13 win over Flatonia last week, scoring 34 second half points in the routing.
Panther senior Juwan Mathis, a three year starter for Burton, rushed for 99 yards on 21 carries and threw three touchdown passes against Flatonia.
“They are good. They are fast,” Eagles head coach Craig Jentsch said of Burton. “They are big up front and extremely fast in the backfield. They also have tall receivers.”
Last year, Milano surprised everyone with a 14-13 win over the Panthers.
“If we can keep the game close in the fourth quarter, I feel pretty good about our chances,” Jentsch said.
Burton’s only blemish on its record is a 28-14 loss to a very good Bremond team on Sept. 21.
The Panthers, who return seven starters on each side of the ball from its 2011 state semifinalist team, are led by Mathis and receiver Brandon Green.
The team also has a new coach in Jason Hodde who replaced Clinton Smith who is now the head coach at Hearne. Hodde had been an assistant under Smith before being named head coach.
Burton’s defense leads 13A-II, allowing just 12.4 points a game. The Eagles’ defense is allowing only 13.6.
The Panther offense is putting up big numbers, scoring almost 39 points per game on average. Milano’s offense is averaging 31.4, and that is including two games without Sanders.
HEALTHY—Starting quarterback Toby Sanders will see his first action as signal caller in a month when he hits the field on Friday. The senior injured his shoulder during Milano’s homecoming win over Iola on Sept. 14. He did not play at all against the Mabank freshman team on Sept. 20 or at Chilton on Sept. 28.
Junior Jordan Mi l lar has played several positions for the Eagles’ this far, stepping in at quarterback during Sanders’ absence, but he also sat out the Mabank game and just played offense against Chilton due to an undisclosed injury.
“It looks likes everyone’s going to be ready to play on Friday,” Jentsch said. “It will be a month Friday since Toby played and he will be ready to go.”
Sanders leads Milano in passing this season, even with three other players seeing time as signal caller this season. Besides Millar, junior David Jentsch and sophomore Derek Walton have seen time at quarterback.
Sanders has passed for 281 yards and four touchdowns on 17 of 50 pass attempts. He has only thrown one interception.
Millar is the team’s leading rusher, recording 391 yards on 56 carries and four touchdowns.
Senior Dominique Messer is currently the Eagles’ top receiver with 344 yards on 13 carries and six touchdowns.
Messer also leads the team in tackles with 58 in just five games.
PLAYOFFS—The Eag le s advanced to the area round of the Class A Division II playoffs in 2011 before falling to Falls City for the second year in a row.
The Beavers ousted Milano in the 2010 area round en route to their state title.
The area round is the furthest that any Milano team has gone in the 11-man playoffs, having reached it four times and not advancing.
They also reached that point in 2000 and 2007. The Eagles reached the bi-district round in 1999 and 2005.
The 2007 Eagles nabbed the school’s first ever 11-man playoff victory and the 2011 squad added Milano’s third bi-district championship trophy with a win over Burkeville.
SUBVARSITY— Milano’s junior varsity squad will play at College Station JV on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Eagles’ junior high team will play at 5:30 p.m. in Burton.
MILANO SEASON LEADERS
RUSHING—Millar 56-391 4TD; Sanders 37-206 3TD; Pack 23-169; Gallarado 16-99 2TD; Neal 6-54 TD; Derek Walton 19-44 TD.
PASSING—Sanders 17-50-1 281 yards 4TD; Millar 3-11-0 86 yards 2TD; Walton 1-2-0 36 yards; Jentsch 1-1-0 27 yards TD.
RECEIVING—Messer 13-344 6TD; Millar 3-47 TD; Mader 3-19; Grimes 2-16.
TACKLES—Messer 58, Ellison 26, Prazak 25, Millar 24, Ferrara 21, Walton 20.
This week—Burton at Milano; Somerville vs. Thrall; Snook at Granger; Bartlett at Somerville.
Last week—Burton 46, Flatonia 13; Thrall 43, Somerville 0; Central Texas Christian 36, Snook 20. Milano, Bartlett and Granger were open last week.