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High School sports

‘It’s a defensive nightmare’: Milford Mill football and its dynamic offense have big plans after 2021 setback

Milford Mill football coach Reggie White was happy the question posed to him during a recent practice was simply hypothetical.

If you were an opposing defensive coordinator in charge of stopping the Millers’ potent attack, how would you go about it?

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White didn’t have an answer, instead responding with questions of his own.

Stack the box to try to stop running back Sean Williams Jr.? Or just rush three and double-team wide receiver Daysen Shell to limit the threat of quarterback Deshawn Purdie finding him deep?

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Hmm.

“It’s a defensive nightmare,” White concluded, “especially when they are all clicking.”

So far, so great at Milford Mill, where the No. 7 Millers will take a 3-0 mark into Saturday’s game at Baltimore County rival Owings Mills. Staggering offensive production has led the way with Milford Mill outscoring three opponents by a 132-23 margin while piling up 1,159 total yards.

Purdie, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior, has completed 35 of 55 passes for 533 yards and six touchdowns. Shell is the team’s big-play senior wide receiver with 11 catches for 230 yards and four touchdowns. Williams, another senior, combines power and speed in the backfield, rushing for 511 yards on 43 carries with nine touchdowns, including three 100-yard games.

All three standouts note that the production doesn’t happen without a dominant offensive line, which is led by 6-1, 285-pound senior tackle Rashard Herring. Other weapons are also readily available as five other receivers have caught three or more of Purdie’s passes.

“It definitely takes a group effort. We just talk a lot and work hard as a team and we’re just like a family, brothers,” Shell said. “When you take one of our targets away, we can hit you with another. So if defenses try to take away the passing game, we can dominate you with the run game, and that goes both ways. You gotta love the Millers’ offense.”

They all believe their best has yet to come.

Purdie and Williams transferred from Mount Saint Joseph determined to help the Millers take the final step that eluded them last year when they fell to Douglass-PG, 29-14, in the Class 2A state title game.

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The pair felt welcomed immediately with extensive summer workouts leading into practice. Williams fondly recalled the first time the team was together, which included a perfect blend of jokes and hard work that created an immediate bond.

At the first official practice, Purdie got a taste of what was to come.

“Shell was on the outside and they were playing man-to-man [coverage] on him — biggest mistake you’ll ever make,” Purdie said. “I take a three-step drop, throw it 45, 50 yards and I’m thinking the space Daysen got on him is crazy. So I just knew we’re going to be able to do it in the season.”

In a season-opening 42-7 win over fellow Baltimore County power Franklin — the Millers’ first against the Indians since 2018 — Purdie connected with Shell for three touchdowns.

The following week against Hereford, the Bulls tried to stop the aerial attack, so Williams ran for 211 yards and five scores in a 48-8 win. After their 42-7 win at Overlea last week, the Millers were back grinding at practice this week.

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Day by day, they know they get better and grow closer.

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“Man, it’s like a brotherhood out here. It’s a tough group,” said Herring, a captain and the team’s vocal leader. “We’re always competing against each other every day at practice, and I’m doing my job so we can all succeed. I keep everybody’s heads high — ‘Let’s go, we got this!’ — and, as a leader, try to build up everybody’s confidence on the team.”

Every day comes with a valuable chip that the Millers won’t let go of. It’s from the pain that came with leaving Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Dec. 3 without a state championship.

Any slips in a practice or game prove as a reminder to focus more. Last year’s returning players have expressed that feeling to the new players. “Unfinished business” is how the Millers prefer to describe this season.

“We’re trying to get better every day, especially after the loss they suffered last year,” Williams said. “Coach White is pushing us, every coach is making us work hard and we’re trying to be better than they were last year. They don’t want that same feeling again and I know I don’t want to feel that. So we’re trying to work as a team, get better every day and win states this year.”

Based on his team’s work ethic, talent and togetherness, White is confident the Millers are on the right path to bring home the program’s second state championship. It’s been a long time coming — the school’s only title came in 1987 — and White is making sure the Millers don’t look ahead.

“It’s going to be a sight and I hope we continue to peak all the way to our goal, which is Dec. 2,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is Dec. 2, let’s not make no bones about it, but it’s day by day.”


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