La Plata wins high-scor­ing con­test ver­sus Leonard­town

War­riors pick up mon­u­men­tal win for head coach Mil­stead

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TAMMY SHOWALTER tshowal­ter@somd­news.com

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.

PHOTO BY TINA COLLIN GRAY

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

PHOTO BY TINA COLLIN GRAY

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.

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