The Milford High School football team knew coming into its 2012 campaign that there would be growing pains.
With sophomores making up more than half of its starting defense, the Buccaneers were well aware that there would be times they would be outmatched by older, bigger, stronger players.
That's certainly been the case at times through the first seven games of the season, Head Coach Mike Tkach acknowledged following last weekend's 34-7 loss at home to Caesar Rodney High School (6-2, 4-0).
However, Tkach added, that doesn't mean he hasn't seen significant improvement out of Milford (3-5, 0-5) this year, adding that he's optimistic the season can close out on a positive note after the final two games.
"I think [the young players] are getting some quality experience out of this and it will make us better in the long haul," he said. "Our focus right now is we have to shoot for .500, and if we can do that it would be a great accomplishment for this team."
Tkach said when you're playing with such a young roster, the physical maturity differential on the field can prove to be a huge challenge. That certainly was the case for the Riders, who currently sit atop the Henlopen North.
"We knew going in it was going to be a big task, because they're at the top for a reason," he said. "We played with them for a while but then we gave up some turnovers and it hurt us. When you go against a team like that you almost have to play flawless football."
Limiting mistakes and trying to play the closest thing to flawless football that they can will be the Bucs' main focus over the final two weeks of the season, Tkach said.
If it is able to accomplish its goal and finish strong, the coach added, it work wonders for the underclassmen as they prepare for next season, especially as Milford prepares to move back to Division II next season.
"It'd be a huge springboard for us," Tkach said. "It's not like we're going to go into DII and walk all over anyone, but we'll be in a much better situation for our size school."