La Plata wins high-scoring contest versus Leonardtown
Warriors pick up monumental win for head coach Milstead
Saying a final goodbye to a friend is never easy and saying goodbye to a mentor who has shaped and molded your life for decades is an extraordinarily emotional experience.
That’s how La Plata High School football coach Rod Milstead felt after Friday night’s 53-38 win at Leonardtown.
The victory was bittersweet as he found out that his high school football coach from Lackey, Mike Brown, had passed away earlier in the week. Brown led the Chargers to a Class B State Football Championship in 1986, a team Milstead was a member of.
“I don’t think I have words to describe this,” Milstead said. “It was truly
amazing. Coach Brown was my mentor, a father at times. He was ever ything. He was the one who gave me the opportunity to play football. He told me I could go to college and he told me I could go pro and all of those things happened.
“I’m so fortunate to have all of those memories of him. The only sad thing about tonight is I wish I could call him and say, ‘Hey I did it, I got that victory.’ Last year I talked to him after almost every game and he was so proud that I was at his alma mater, La Plata. It just feels good. It feels really good. Man, I looked up at the moon in those last two minutes and I could see him smiling down on me and he was telling me, ‘You did it.’ When I got the call, I then called all the guys that I played with and then I waited an hour and put it on Facebook. It’s gotten over 180 shares and over 700 likes so ... what a great guy. He touched the community like you wouldn’t believe.
“Before the game, I had a bad moment, but when they gave him his tribute tonight, I could just feel him right there [in his heart]. It’s tough. Our coaches touch us. They carry us through all the life lessons that we learn through that sport. It just carries us along the way. I’ve shared a many tear this week. I know he would say, ‘Don’t you cry for me, you get out there and coach.’ I’m going to continue to let his legacy live through me and I’m going to continue to coach the style that he coached.”
Coach is what he did.
The win was Milstead’s first career win at La Plata (1-1 overall).
“We went 0-10 last year and we lost last week, so it’s amazing,” he said. “I’m so proud of these guys. Even through adversity and a little mishap tonight, they looked at me and said, ‘Hey coach, we got you.’ I have a quarterback here that refuses to give in to the negativity.”
La Plata saw the end zone first at the end of the first quarter, a 20yard pass from quarterback Jordan Sinclair to Jonathan Phillips. Sinclair finished the drive when he carried the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
“Feels good,” Sinclair said. “It was all for him [Milstead]. We had to step it up on defense. We had a little mishap, but we knew they’d pick us up later in the game so we knew we had to get down and get into the end zone.”
Leonardtown (0-2) answered back early in the second quarter on a 17-yard touchdown run by Deshawn Polk. The two-point conversion failed and La Plata held the 8-6 lead.
The game featured 44 combined points in the second quarter, the last 32 coming in the final 3 minutes 51 seconds before halftime, and another 33 in the third, 21 coming in a span of 38 seconds.
Polk found the end zone on three occasions and was the Raiders’ leading rusher with 14 carries for 135 yards. He also had a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a Jeremee Cromwell touchdown in the second quarter.
“I have to give it up to [Raiders head] coach [Ron Weinberger] because they were calling the right plays,” Polk said. “I just had to hit the holes. I think we definitely played better this week and we’ll carry that momentum into next week and throughout the year. I’m proud of the whole team. I think we played great today. I love these boys. Obviously, there’s things you need to work on but we’ll study film and work it out in practice. I want us to keep the confidence we had in this game on offense and now we know we can score. We just have to keep up the confidence and we’ll do great this year.”
It was La Plata’s Peytyn Gray who stunned the home crowd at Leonardtown with back-to-back fumble returns for touchdowns within 14 seconds of one another. The Warriors led 34-18 at halftime.
“Football’s my game. I’ve always done everything for football,” Gray said. “It’s a real moment when you get to pick up a fumble, scoop it up, run 20 yards and score a touchdown and it’s even better when you can do it again back-to-back, and you do it for the kids at school who can’t do it.
“We have a kid at school named Aaron Harrison and he was born with a disease in his back where he can’t walk and he’s in a wheelchair all the time and that kid will do anything for football. He watches it, studies it; so we play for him.”
The closest Leonardtown came was within 41-38 with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter on a Polk 8-yard touchdown run, but the Warriors bounced back almost a minute later with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Sinclair to Stephen Cobb for the 47-38 lead. Sinclair’s 32-yard touchdown run late in the fourth capped the scoring.
La Plata looks for two in a row when it hosts Northern at 7 p.m. Friday. The Patriots fell to Patuxent in Week 2, 41-7.
The Raiders will travel to Thomas Stone for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff against a Stone team that lost to Chopticon in Week 2, 21-7.
La Plata’s Peytyn Gray, left, celebrates with his teammates after his second fumble recovery for a touchdown on which he scored within 14 seconds of one another to give the Warriors the 28-6 lead in the second quarter Friday night en route to a 53-38 victory.
Former Lackey head football coach Mike Brown recently passed away. He led the Chargers to the Class B State Championship in 1986. La Plata head coach Rod Milstead was a member of that team. Milstead said Brown was a father figure to him and many young men at that time.
The Leonardtown Raiders hosted La Plata on the gridiron Friday night. The two teams put up 91 points combined, reaching the end zone on 14 occasions. The Warriors came out on top 53-38, giving head coach Rod Milstead his first career win as head coach.