After showcasing themselves with a strong season a year ago, frontrunning in the Henlopen South before reaching the Division II DIAA Football state championship, the Milford Buccaneers knew there’d be a target squarely on their backs.

After a rough start, the Buccaneers hope things are slowly turning their way. Nearing the midpoint of their 10-game season, the Bucs are reflecting on areas they need to improve upon if they’re to return to the postseason.

Milford opened with two lopsided losses, but the Bucs turned things around in week three, earning a 37-0 victory over Polytech for their first win.

The win over the Panthers was a nice first step in the right direction.

“Our kids executed in all three facets of the game and did what they needed to do to beat a stout Poly team and come out on top,” said head coach Shaun Strickland. “We’re still young and still gelling with guys who are first time starters, but as it is coming together we begin to play better.”

The Buccaneers dealt with adversity right away, being handed big losses to Sussex Tech and Delaware Military Academy. Milford had a hard time keeping their opponents off the scoreboard, giving up a combined 67 points to the Ravens and Seahawks. Meanwhile, on the offensive end the Bucs struggled, scoring just 20 points over their first two games.

While they were able to bounce back with a nice shutout victory over the Panthers, Strickland and his team still have some things to work on if they’re to earn more victories.

“The biggest areas [we need to work on] are penalties,” Strickland said. “We’re making simple, silly mistakes that are completely controllable and easy to overcome.”

With a younger team, mistakes are to be expected, they’ve directly affected results on the field.

“In the first three weeks, we ended drives, left points on the board and gave the ball back because of simple mistakes and penalties,” Strickland said. “We can’t drive 40 yards then get hit with 20 yards worth of penalties the next two plays. I don’t know many teams that can survive that week-in and week-out.”

With six games coming against the Henlopen Conference, the Buccaneers must grow up quickly, especially with stiff tests against Woodbridge and Delmar ahead.

This week, the Buccaneers play Laurel in their second Henlopen South Division game, one that could play an important role by the season’s end.

Strickland and his squad aim to keep things simple as they try to find momentum.

“[We’re] simply looking to keep seeing this team grow, we’re into conference play now and every game matters,” Strickland said. “We cannot take anyone lightly and we have to give it everything we have.”

The Buccaneers will host the Laurel Bulldogs this Friday at 7 p.m.