Big Reds advance in playoffs

By Balinda Zimmerman

Coach Jesse Hoskins has taken his team to the Huron League Championships for the third time since he began his coaching career at Milan.  Once again the Milan Big Reds will see the District playoffs in 2016. When the game ended with a 42-17 win on the home field against Carlton Airport on October 14, 2016 the student body erupted onto the field in celebration of the boys in pads. 
Opening the game on October 28, 2016, the Big Reds had won the toss and opted to defer receiving until the second quarter so the Bears took the ball for their first drive. They were unable to capitalize on the yardage any further than the 15-yard line.  
When the Big Reds took possession they were successful in completing a 50-yard drive that finished with quarterback, Demetrius Barnes, making the touchdown for Milan and a good kick on the field goal.
The Bears came back with their own touchdown early in the 2nd quarter on a one-yard leap that finished off a 47-yard drive.  Trace Lindeman was able to rush in and get the block on the extra point kick resulting in the loss of the field goal point.  Milan 7, Monroe Jefferson 6.
On the Milan drive at 2nd and 10 with 16 yards to go Barnes runs the quarterback keep. Running sharp left to the outside he heads for the goal when a Monroe Jefferson Bear dives for his legs at the 5-yard line. As a high-jumper and long-jumper Barnes quickly assesses the situation and instead of going down with the tackle he goes up, he leaps and hits the head and shoulders of the tackler giving himself an additional boost up and over the heads of the Jefferson players in a Superman style flying move. Barnes lands on his shoulders, rolls and stands up in the end-zone for his second touchdown of the night. Walther was able to put the ball between the posts once again for the Big Reds.  Milan 14, Jefferson 6. 
Coming back from the half both teams knew it was a fight to the end and both knew the quality of the lines they were facing as they stood across from each other. For whomever walked away without tears, this would not be an easy win.
On the return to the field Trace Lindeman takes the hand-off twice from Barnes, all the while searching for a hole to find nothing opening on the first and second runs. He gains only two yards before the decision is made to switch to a passing route. One incomplete pass to Lindeman and Milan was having the turn the ball over to Jefferson on the 38-yard line.
This time Monroe Jefferson was able to break through the Big Red line and not only successfully complete a 73-yard touchdown drive but also capitalized on the 2-point conversion.  It had now become a serious competition of will and skill. The 3rd quarter ended with Milan 14, Jefferson 14.
Going into the 4th quarter Milan was hammered with penalties and after a couple passes and a 1st down Trace Lindeman found an opening and completed a 58-yard touchdown run. Walther garnered the field goal and it was Milan in the lead once again. Milan 21, Jefferson 14.
With 6:30 left in the game Jefferson made their returning march down the field stopping only to add up another 1st down (times three). On a series of runs that took nearly four minutes off the clock they were finally able to cross the goal line for one more touchdown and the lead in this playoff game.  Jefferson 22, Milan 21.
When Brandon Lange next caught the return punt there was 1:43 left on the clock in the 4th quarter.  Milan had the ball 1stand 10 on the Bears 42-yard line. After two short passes to Brian Blansett and Kenari Moore, Barnes handed off to Trace but immediately a penalty was called for holding against Milan.  It was 2nd and 20 on the 25 when Barnes threw the pass to Kenari Moore that was tipped by the Bears and landed right in the hands of Moore just inside the goal line.  Had it not been for the tip the ball likely would have gone past Moore.  As it was it was a perfect slowing down of the ball for the Milan touchdown.  The Big Reds were unable to complete the extra point but it was not needed with only twenty-nine seconds left on the clock. Jefferson had no time to make another strong drive but opted to throw a hail Mary pass that was intercepted by Tristan Hines. Milan wins with a final score of 27, Jefferson 22.

Balinda Zimmerman is a certified mediator, owner/operator at Milan Memories by Minna, and freelance writer for the Milan Eagle News. Balinda can be reached at balindaz [at] comcast [dot] net

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