The talented senior class of football players at Milton-Union High School has a lofty goal: To match other great Bulldogs teams that have a permanent locker-room spot in the adjoining coaches’ room.
That would be winning a rare Southwestern Buckeye League title. And the clock is ticking. Milton-Union and SWBL division rival Northridge will jump to the new Three Rivers Conference after next season.
“Our main goal is to be up on the wall of champions,” assured standout senior running back/defensive back A.J. Lovin. “If we can get ourselves up there that will bring us to the next level and that’s what we want to do.”
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Unbeaten Milton-Union (5-0) gets its most stern test to start the second half of the regular season in a key Week 6 Buckeye Division matchup at Waynesville (4-1) on Friday.
Southwestern Division heavyweight Valley View (5-0) and Milton-Union are the only two remaining unbeaten SWBL teams. Franklin, Brookville and Waynesville are all 4-1. All are in league title and playoff contention.
Milton-Union leads the SWBL in scoring (201 points). Waynesville lost only to Greeneview 21-20 and stunned Bellbrook two weeks later by the same score.
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“You can’t call it a league title game, but certainly it will play a very big role in who ends up winning the (SWBL) championship,” said Bulldogs coach Bret Pearce.
There’s an electrifying buzz for Bulldogs football this season. Lovin has scored 18 touchdowns in five games. He returned one of two interceptions for a score, dashed 84 yards with a punt return for another and also kicks extra points.
Brumbaugh is the latest football standout in a long family line of Bulldogs football players. He’s No. 2 in SWBL passing with 742 yards and 10 TDs. He’s had two touchdown passes in each game.
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Defensively, senior outside linebacker Kayge Thwaits is No. 2 in the SWBL with 4.5 sacks. Junior defensive lineman Tim Artz also is having a breakout season.
That adds up to the best team Milton has fielded since 2012 when the Bulldogs lost to unbeaten and eventual state champ Clinton-Massie in the Division IV regional final. That was the most recent addition to Milton’s wall of champions.
“We all knew we had the parts and pieces,” Brumbaugh said. “We knew we could be great. This is our last hurrah. We’re just trying to make it great and show the underclassmen what it’s all about.”
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That’s what two-way standout lineman West Martin did on that 2012 team. He is in the offensive line rotation for the Washington Redskins after being drafted in the fourth round last year following a standout career at Indiana University. There are other noteworthy former Bulldogs.
Former University of Dayton longtime head coach Mike Kelly was a QB at Milton-Union as was Charlie Green, an NCAA Hall of Famer who starred at Wittenberg. The original QB/RB standout Bulldog was Carl Brumbaugh, Nathan’s great grandpa, who played at Ohio State and with the Chicago Bears in the early years of the NFL.
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No wonder Pearce pinches himself for this good fortune. He’s in his second season as head coach after succeeding Mark Lane, who resigned to become the athletic director. A Mansfield native, Pearce also was Milton’s head coach from 2000-12.
“We were certainly hopeful we could put something like this together for the first half of the season,” Pearce said. “Every team has their own character. I’ve had good teams that were big and huge. This team is built around speed and our defensive backfield. I’d hate to match those teams up against one another and call one better than the other. I’m just having a whole lot of fun coaching this one.”
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• Centerville (3-2) is at Wayne (1-4) in a historically intriguing Greater Western Ohio Conference matchup. The Elks have won three straight. The hard-luck Warriors awarded first-year coach Roosevelt Mukes his first career win by beating Lebanon last week. Wayne’s losses are to Colerain (4-1), Olentangy Liberty (5-0), Trotwood-Madison (4-1) and Springboro (5-0).
• The Ohio Heritage Conference will have one less unbeaten team because Mechanicsburg (5-0) hosts West Jefferson (5-0) in a North Division showdown. Mechanicsburg is coming off a 52-0 detonation of Greenon in Week 5.
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West Liberty-Salem (5-0) is the other unbeaten OHC North team. The Tigers will play West Jeff in Week 8 and will host Mechanicsburg in Week 10.
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