Match-ups against Lassiter (last week) and Walton (Friday) afforded Milton a chance to prove their mettle against two of the state’s elite programs while also providing a chance to contend for region glory. Over the summer, this Friday’s game against Walton was picked up ESPNU and was set to be broadcast to a nation audience, adding extra intrigue to the Eagles’ late October schedule.
But saddening news about one of their own last week has left the Milton program — which is having one of the best seasons in school history — juggling the emotions of life with the excitement of competition.
“As big as those games seemed at the time, there is something so much bigger going on here right now,” said second-year Milton football coach Howie DeCristofaro. “Our offensive line coach Mike Scott, who was here long before I arrived, has a terminal form of cancer that we found out about last Friday.”
Scott, now in his seventh season on the Milton staff, was an offensive coordinator for Milton in the past and served as the Eagles’ offensive line and weight lifting coach this season.
DeCristofaro said the school and community is selling red bracelets that read “Lift up Coach Scott” to raise money for Scott and his family during their time of need. The bracelets, which are being sold at Milton High School, are one of a number of fundraisers currently going on in the Milton and surrounding communities.
“As coaches we’ve tried to teach our kids that life itself will be their biggest opponent in life and this is just proof of that. No matter what it is, life will keep coming back at you. Life will try to knock you down again and again and you just have to keep fighting to get back up.”
On the field, Milton will try to bounce back up against Walton on Friday night, one week after learning the news of their beloved coach and nearly knocking off the state’s second ranked team Lassiter.
“Our kids came out during a tough time and played as hard as they could for a half, but were just emotionally spent that night,” said DeCristofaro, who broke the news to his team hours before kickoff last Friday.
“This Friday we have another tough team and I just hope that they can use the football field as a refuge for a few hours, block everything out, do what they love and play hard.”