Milton encouraged despite 13-0 loss
MILTON—Bill O'Leary can see the progress his Milton High football team is making.
The Red Hawks and their first-year coach are simply searching for a tally on the left side of the ledger to prove it.
Milton held Fort Atkinson scoreless over the final 34 minutes on Friday night, but the Red Hawks' offense never came untracked in a 13-0 Badger South Conference loss to the Blackhawks.
“We talk about, all the time, playing with pride and intensity, and we did,” O'Leary said. “This is a big step up from where we were because we have more confidence in stuff that we're doing.”
It appeared early on that Milton might be in for a long night.
The Blackhawks took the opening kickoff and marched 13 plays right down the field. Quarterback Brett Behselich completed all three of his pass attempts on the drive, scampered 28 yards on a carry to get the drive rolling and finished it off with an eight-yard scoring run.
After stopping Milton's offense, Fort Atkinson got the ball again and wasted little time. Behselich hit senior James Nachtigal on a slant route and Nachtigal took it 41 yards for a touchdown with 10:41 remaining in the second quarter.
Nachtigal finished with five catches for 67 yards, completed a fake-punt pass for 22 yards and ran for a critical first down on another fake punt.
Yet Milton kept Fort off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
“I'm very proud of my kids, defensively,” O'Leary said of his defense from that point on. “If they make a stand, that gets momentum back.
“I think we did that a couple times.”
The Red Hawks could simply never sustain a drive offensively.
Junior running back Howard Greene had a 38-yard scamper in the first quarter, but Milton finished with just 32 first-half yards and 109 overall.
Colin Weberpal hauled in a 30-yard pass from Tyler Westrick in the second half, but that drive stalled out.
And when the Red Hawks put together a couple first downs with the game still up for grabs in the fourth quarter, a fumble dashed their hopes.
“We're still trying to find an identity about what we're really good at,” O'Leary said. “After Howard got hurt, I thought (Zachary) Hoard came in and really ran hard.
“Nobody played in this offense last year because we played four-wide. They're all kind of finding where they're going and what's working.”
Milton fell to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Badger South. With games looming against Oregon (1-3, 0-1) next week and then Monroe (0-4, 0-1), O'Leary hopes the Red Hawks can keep making progress and break into the win column.
“I'm not sure how fast we're going that way,” O'Leary said, “but we're definitely going in the right direction.”
FORT ATKINSON 13, MILTON 0
Fort Atkinson 7 6 0 0—13
Milton 0 0 0 0—0
Scoring summary: FA—Brett Behselich, 8 run (Tommy Riggs kick). FA—James Nachtigal, 41 pass from Behselich (kick failed).
Statistics: First downs—FA 17, M 6. Rushing—FA 52-209, M 21-54. Passing yards—FA 93, M 55. Passes—FA 7-15-0, M 9-16-0. Fumbles—FA 0-0, M 1-1. Penalties—FA 6-45, M 3-25.