By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
MILTON — With a lot of the talk this week centered around who will get the top two seeds and the first-round home games that go with them, one of the coaches in this week-10 battle for position in District 4 Class AAA is more concerned about getting a win and finishing strong.
Shikellamy’s Todd Tilford takes his Braves to Milton to face his former assistant, George Goodwin and the Black Panthers in a Heartland Athletic Conference Division I contest that will help set the playoff order.
“For our team, getting a win heading into the playoffs is more important than seeding, honestly. After the 1-4 start, to fight back to .500 would be a nice accomplishment,” said Tilford, whose Braves have had an up-and-down season and go into this week at 4-5 (3-2 HAC-I).
Shikellamy has won three of its last four while the Black Panthers (5-4, 2-3) have lost back-to-back games after beating Selinsgrove.
Tilford said, “Earning home field would obviously be great for the playoffs, but we just need to focus on getting a win against a quality opponent (that is) coming off two tough losses, and then see where we stand,” he said.
Goodwin is coming off an unexpected loss to a Jersey Shore team that is locked in as the No. 4 seed for next week despite its 3-6 record.
“We had a little team meeting (Monday) and the coaches and the players expressed how they felt from (last week’s 42-39 loss). Obviously there were a lot of kids who are still upset and ticked off and that’s how we are approaching it. We need to get back to the things that we were doing. We can’t give up 42 points and expect to win a ballgame. When you score 39, you expect to win.”
He said the Milton defense has got to rise to the occasion against a great Shikellamy team.”
Both coaches expect their former co-workers to show some new things on Friday night.
Tilford said, “When coaching together, we always complained when other teams used the muddle huddle extra point, and coach Goodwin has done lots of crazy two-point plays from that formation.”
Tilford added, “:It takes up practice time and I’m sure he has some more wrinkles saved for this game in both phases.’
His counterpart said, “Tilford is going to have a little wrinkle here or there. With the things they do, you can always expect something crazy with him offensively.”
Goodwin said his team needs to get back to playing fundamental defense, something he said it has not been doing the last couple of games.
“We have given up a boatload of points, we have to be better defensively.”
He also said the Black Panthers cannot afford to just key on Shikellamy fullback Dwayne Pepper. “The Wary kid (senior Ryan) can fly and (quarterback Garrett) Kemberling is a factor both running and throwing. We have to be able to defend anything.,” Goodwin added.
Milton has had some huge performances out of its backfield and Tilford said “Milton creates a lot of problems for us defensively by using many combinations of different formations, shifts and motions. They have really been pretty balanced with the pass and the run.
Tilford added, “All of their backs have been running hard, making the pile go forward, especially (senior fullback Josh) Brown,” Tilford added.