high school football: Arthur Dukes, Milan run past Ypsilanti, 42-8, in season opener
What a difference a year can make.
The Milan High School football team opened its 2012 season with a 42-8 win against visiting Ypsilanti on Friday night. The performance was a complete turnaround from last season’s 22-0 loss to the Phoenix.
“We’re back, baby,” a Milan player yelled as the Big Reds walked off the field arm-in-arm toward a victorious locker. Time will tell if the opening-night win is a harbinger of a turnaround season for the Big Reds, who limped to a 1-8 record in 2011.
“The guys last year worked extremely hard, so a part of them was with us tonight,” Milan coach Jessie Hoskins said. “We only worry about stuff we can control within our walls. We expected this and this is what happened.”
Senior running back Arthur Dukes and quarterback Justin Aceves - part of a 2011 Big Reds attack that mustered 94 yards of offense against Ypsilanti - each rushed for two touchdowns on Friday.
Dukes had 141 of his 170 rushing yards by halftime. His biggest run of the night - a 46-yarder late in the second quarter - set up an Aceves 1-yard scoring dive. Austin Hoover’s fourth of six point-after kicks made it 28-0 at halftime.
“For him, I think (Dukes) had a good game. I don’t think it was anything unbelievable, I think this is what he’s capable of,” Hoskins said. “We’re going to expect more from him as the year goes on.”
Robert Kanitz (9 carries, 28 yards) and Torrin Collier (7-45) also scored for the Big Reds, who finished with 273 rushing yards. Aceves was 4-for-7 passing for 40 yards while the Milan defense shut out the Phoenix until the closing seconds.
“I think high school football is a lot about confidence and a lot about the kids believing in their capabilities,” Hoskins said. “I think our guys had a great offseason where they saw improvement and they came out here and played like they believe in their capabilities.”
Not nearly as much went right for Ypsilanti, which got nearly one-third of its total offense on its second-to-last play of the game. Tyree Weatherspoon got loose for a 68-yard run on a 4th-and-long play in the final 30 seconds, setting up Jaavald Love’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Weatherspoon finished with 113 yards on 12 carries. Love gained 54 yards on 13 attempts.
The Phoenix threw a pair of interceptions and were assessed 20 penalties for 142 yards in their first game under new coach Ra-Mon Watkins. On one sweep play late in the fourth quarter, three different Ypsilanti players were flagged for holding.