By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Milton-Union has been building for the last two seasons, and the Bulldogs are beginning to see the results of all their hard work.
This week, though, they will pit themselves against a completed project that’s under new management.
Milton-Union — 2-0 for the first time in three seasons — will host rival Tippecanoe in its home opener Friday night, a team that the Bulldogs haven’t had a lot of success against in recent years. And while the Bulldogs are a much-improved team after two seasons of struggles, the Red Devils already look like the perennial playoff team they’ve become known as.
The Bulldogs began this year by stunning the Miami East Vikings — a playoff team for the past three seasons in a row — 21-7 on the road on opening night, then they held off Oakwood 36-30 in a Saturday morning game thanks to last week’s storms Friday night. And though it’s way too early to start talking playoffs — the season in only one-fifth of the way over — Milton-Union is unofficially in second place in Division V, Region 18.
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, has been dominant two divisions up over the years. The last time the Devils weren’t in the playoffs was 2004, and they’ve gone 3-2 in the postseason over the last two years in Division III, Region 10. After a 56-0 blowout of Graham in Week 1, the Devils took care of business against an improved Greenville team, winning 32-19 in a rainy Friday night game that didn’t end until early Saturday morning.
Last year, Tippecanoe beat Milton-Union 57-14, and the year before that the Devils won 49-0. The last time the game was close was 2011, a 28-27 Tippecanoe win, and the last time Milton-Union won was in the 2006 season opener, 28-21.
This will also be the first meeting in the rivalry between third-year Milton-Union coach Mark Lane and first-year Tippecanoe coach Joel Derge.
Bot of the Cross County Conference’s Miami County playoff teams — Miami East and Covington — looked more like themselves after rough opening-week starts, and both return home for their Week 3 contests.
Miami East bounced back from its loss to the Bulldogs in a big way, jumping out to a 30-0 halftime lead over National Trail and cruising to a 43-0 victory. After its offense stalled in Week 1, the Vikings needed to show that they could not only move the football but also finish off drives — and that’s exactly what they did.
They will host 1-1 Ansonia Friday night, which is coming off a 48-16 drubbing at the hands of Tri-County North.
Covington, meanwhile, had even less success offensively in a 27-3 Week 1 loss at St. Henry — but those woes were long gone as the Buccaneers blasted Arcanum 35-6. The Buccs won the time of possession war and amassed 375 rushing yards in the win, with Ethan Herron finding the end zone four times in the game.
The Buccs host their home opener Friday against 0-2 Mississinawa Valley.
The Blackhawks will be coming into that game off of a 42-2 loss at the hands of the Bethel Bees, who showed a wealth of improvement after a narrow 28-27 loss at the hands of Northridge. Bethel will complete its three-game road trip to kick off the season Friday with another tough test, at 2-0 Dayton Christian.
The Troy Christian Eagles have begun the season with back-to-back blowouts, hammering Perry 49-0 and drilling Waynesfield-Goshen 51-14. Both of those teams are 0-2 now, though, and the Eagles will face their first opponent with a winning record as they host 2-0 Northridge. The Polar Bears have already matched their win total from all of last season, a 2-8 year, meaning Troy Christian must not take them lightly.
Piqua has begun its first season in Division III in a strong way, holding off Toledo St. John’s 34-30 in the opener and then obliterating Urbana 63-7. The Indians will get their first true test of the year against 2-0 Lima, a team that defeated them 62-20 last season.
Bradford will still be looking for its first win since returning to the field after not fielding a varsity team last season. The Railroaders will travel to 1-1 Springfield Catholic Central, which is coming off a narrow 12-9 loss to Graham. The Irish hammered Greenon 68-12 in Week 1, though, meaning it could be another long week for Bradford.
And after an 0-2 start against a pair of 2-0 teams in Fort Recovery and Minster, Lehman looks poised to get back on the winning track in Week 3. The Cavaliers host 1-1 Graham, Lehman’s final game before kicking off league play.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.