Led by Arthur Dukes, Milan rushing attack at the center of turnaround year
It was no secret what the game plan was for the Milan High School football team in its 35-20 victory over Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Friday night: rush, rush and rush some more.
It’s the same game plan that has helped Milan to a 5-0 start this season.
“Our emphasis is: control the line of scrimmage. And we feel that if we control the line of scrimmage, and we don’t turn the ball over, we’re going to be successful,” Milan head coach Jesse Hoskins said.
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As impressive as the stats are, Dukes gives the majority of the credit to his offensive line, a group comprised of four seniors and a junior.
“Its great to just run behind those guys and they can get me out in open space and I can do good things,” Dukes said. “The line did a great job today. I couldn’t do anything without them.”
Alongside Dukes has been junior Robert Kanitz, who has picked up 316 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the year. Like Dukes, he too looks to his line as the reason for his success.
“Its all the line, we couldn’t do it without all the blocking from the line and all the hard work they’re doing,” Kanitz said.
After taking down SMCC, Hoskins said his team’s offense wasn’t much different than what the Falcons have run for years. But that it has been the work of offensive coordinator Justin Ward (an assistant at Pioneer last year) that has been the difference.
“It's just how you do it, it's putting the quarterback in shotgun, its having a couple different guys that are weapons and using a little bit of misdirection," Hoskins said. "And so it's nice when you have guys likes Dukes and (Justin) Aceves and Kanitz who can those things.
“Bringing in coach Ward has been great, he’s done an excellent job. I’ve been able to step back and really interject on my strong points, but then make some adjustments to fit our personnel.”
The difference has been spectacular through the first five games. Last season, Milan averaged just 151.9 yards a game rushing and only twice did they gain more than 200 yards on the ground.
Already this season the Big Reds have rushed for more than 300 yards on three separate occasions.
After the disappointing 1-8 season last year, Dukes said his team and especially the offense knew they had to turn it around.
“Last offseason all the guys came together and we made a pact that we didn’t want a repeat of last year and we were just going to work as hard as we can to,” Dukes said.