Once upon an August, it was his wish, but this wasn’t supposed to be Ryan Milus’ job. For the latter half of the season, Milus has returned kicks for Chandler Hamilton, and not under circumstances either he or the Huskies envisioned.
Sure looks good today. Milus had an interception to close out the first half, then took the second-half kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. It was a 17-0 lead the Huskies would need in a 17-10 victory to win their fourth 5A Division I state championship in six years Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Milus is headed to Tucson next year to play defensive back for Arizona, but the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder concluded his high school career with some swagger.
Milus hadn’t returned kicks since his freshman year until Steven Hansen suffered an injury early in the season. After a regular season without such a dynamic special-teams play, it was Milus’ second kickoff return for a touchdown in these playoffs, and third by Hamilton this postseason. He also returned a kickoff 71 yards for a score against Phoenix North Canyon in the opening round.
“This was way better,” Milus said of Friday’s 96-yard sprint.
It was nearly his third. Against Mesa Red Mountain in the semifinals, he returned a kick nearly 60 yards before being slowed by the kicker, then tackled from behind.
So after he split the Broncos’ return team down the middle, then started sprinting to the outside away from Brophy kicker Nick Ayers, Milus had a flashback.
“I thought about that,” he said. “I told myself, 'Don’t get caught by the kicker again.’”
“You can’t give a guy like that an opportunity,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. “He’s not a 100-meter champion for nothing.”
Before the season, Milus went to the coaches and asked to be a kick returner, but because Hansen had tenure and a solid track record, Milus was behind him on the depth chart. Combine that with being a defensive back, and having his hands on the ball for nearly 20 seconds might have been a season best.
“Maybe once or twice a game,” Milus said of holding the pigskin. “You better take advantage when given the chance.”