After one-year absence, Eagles return to state playoff picture
Well, on Friday night at Pruett Field, in front of a large crowd and the last home game of the season, Milano took down Snook 26-2 and secured a spot in the Class A state football playoffs.
The Eagles (8-2, 4-1) finish second in District 13A-II and will face Runge (7-2, 2-2), the third place team out of 14A-II, in the bi-district round of the playoffs. The two teams will square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium in Dripping Springs.
The Yellowjackets are coming off a 50-14 loss to Falls City last week.
Burton repeated as 13A- II champions this year, just ahead of Milano, and Bartlett was the league third place team.
Milano’s offense and defense got in on their scoring effort in the victory over Snook (3-7) on Friday night. The Eagles opened up the scoreboard with a 39 yard touchdown pass from Jordan Millar to David Jentsch with 7:16 left in the first quarter. The point-after attempt failed and Milano led 6-0.
The Bluejays would have an answer as they would march up the field behind the legs of quarterback Deon Hamilton and running back Shavon Cole. Cole scored from the one yard line with 4:02 left in the opening quarter.
The second point after attempt was blocked by Milano’s Makenan Hairston, leaving things tied up at 6- 6. Snook got a redo after the Eagles were offsides on the first try.
The Eagles would then extend their lead when defensive back Nick Bonorden would snag a Hamilton pass and run it back 77 yards for the score. The conversion run by Millar failed. With 58 seconds left in the first, Milano was up 12-6.
Hairston would sack Hamilton at the Milano 45, causing him to fumble. Jentsch would then scoop and score for a 55 yard touchdown. Millar hit Mik Mader for the conversion points, and Milano would lead 20-6.
“As the year progressed, that side (of the ball) has just gotten better and better,” Milano head coach Craig Jentsch said. “They are a big reason we are in second place and headed to the playoffs.”
After forcing a Snook punt on the ensuing possession, the Eagle offense would start its next drive at its own four yard line.
Millar’s amazing scrambling abilities (sometimes looking like Johnny Football), would help drive Milano down the field and also eat up the clock. The senior QB found paydirt from the one yard line with 12 seconds left in the half. The conversion pass was intercepted, but Milano remained up 26-6 at the break.
Neither team would score in the second half, but the Bluejays would get close.
Late in the third, Milano’s Treyton Steinbecker intercepted another Hamilton pass in the end zone, running it back to the Eagle 10 and stopping Snook’s scoring threat.
Near the top of the fourth quarter, the football was like a hot potato. Eagle running back Chance Pack fumbled the ball, with the Eagles recovering. On the next play, Millar would fumble the ball, but this time Snook recovered.
On the very next play after that, Hamilton would fumble the ball and Milano’s Alex Ferrara would recover it around midfield.
The Eagle defense would get one more Bluejay turnover with 3:36 in the game. Milano’s Christian Grimes hit Snook receiver Curtis Williams as he caught the ball, knocking the pigskin loose and into the arms of Bonorden for his second pick of the night at the Snook 45 yard line.
Milano would drive the ball to the Bluejay 16, but time would run out.
“We still have some mistakes to fix, but most of it is coming from the kids being aggressive and not using proper techniques,” Coach Jentsch said. “They are going to have to play big for us to get the win on Friday night.”
By the numbers
Milano had 292 yards of total offense, with 230 on the ground and 62 in the air. Snook tallied 195 yards of offense, with 169 rushing and 26 passing.
Millar was the Eagles’ leading rusher with 127 yards on 19 carries. He is now at 2,721 yards of total offense for the season with 1,792 on the ground and 929 in the air.
Pack had 84 yards on 14 totes, his best performance thus far this season.
Millar was five of seven passing for 62 yards. His favorite target was Jentsch with three catches for 57 yards.
Jentsch also led the team in tackles as with 12 against Snook. Hairston added 11 and Cole Sheppard 10.
Pollsters have Milano picked to beat the Yellowjackets by seven, but Coach Jentsch knows it’s not about what is on paper, it’s about how you play on the field.
“ They are big, and run the slot T and power I right at you. They like to keep your offense off the field,” Jentsch said. “If our defense can get them off the field and give our offense their opportunities, I feel we will be successful.”
Runge averages 334 rushing yards per game and just 26 yards receiving.
The team is lead by senior running back Corey Barnes and junior quarterback Jeric Esparza. Barnes had 850 yards rushing on 105 carries and six touchdowns. Esparza has 821 yards rushing on 150 totes and 18 scores.
Junior back Aaron Charles had 646 yards rushing on 118 carries and five touchdowns.
On defense, the Yellowjackets are led by sophomore linebacker Michael Rios who has 56 tackles on the season. Defensive lineman Ryan Saucedo, a senior, as recorded 53 tackles thus far.
The post-season berth is the just the eighth for Milano in the school’s 11-man football history. Other playoff appearances were made in 1976, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011. The Eagles have won just three playoff games (2007, 2010, 2011) and have never advanced past the area round of the post-season.
Milano has made it to the playoffs three of the four years Jentsch has been the head coach.
The Eagles junior high squad finished its season undefeated on the year at 8-0.
The team defeated Snook 28-0 on Thursday.