In a game that was a bit bizarre at times, Milton pulled out a 22-14 win over Needham to improve the Wildcats to 5-1 and drop the Rockets to the same record.
Here are a few takeaways from what we saw.
— Milton's defense is underrated. The Wildcats came in as a team known for its offense, and for good reason. They are certainly one of the most explosive teams in the state in that department. That said, what maybe stuck out the most was how well Milton played on the other side of the ball. Needham never really got its running game going. Milton also made two big interceptions, forced and recovered a fumble in its own territory, and stymied a late Rockets drive to seal the win. Going forward, if the Wildcats play like that on defense, they can beat anyone left on their schedule and in the postseason.
— Smith Charles is also not just an offensive force, and is one of the best two-way players around. Charles is not the biggest player around. He has always been known as one of the fastest players in the state and New England on the track circuit. But Milton used him in a variety of ways on offense, both as a ballcarrier and receiver, and he can be an explosive weapon in either capacity. On defense, he made an interception in the end zone and plays bigger than his size. In other words, there is more to Charles than just his pure speed.
— Duke is getting a good one in Matthew Smith. The tight end/wide receiver piled up 10 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns, and he looked every bit as dominant as those numbers suggest. He's a big, physical target, with great hands, and explosiveness after the catch. Basically, you can throw a jump ball to him in double-coverage and still like your chances. He essentially demands a double-team wherever he lines up, and Needham has the weapons to make you pay for doing so.
— Speaking of other weapons, Needham's Odhari Hibberts warrants attention, too. Although Hibberts did not quite light Milton up in the same way Smith did, he had a long touchdown catch called back via penalty late in the first half. Hibberts, a junior wide receiver, has excellent speed and shiftiness in the open field. He tracks the ball well on deep balls and can hurt you on jet sweeps and pitches out of the backfield. No doubt the Needham coaching staff will love being able to groom him for another year.