A sign hung from the student section of Tiger Stadium at Hahnville High’s football game against De La Salle: Battle of the Brothers.
The home fans were overjoyed to see Hahnville survive the final seconds to hold onto a dramatic 14-13 win, but they also saw something pretty special and very uncommon – as the sign alluded to, this game represented the ultimate in sibling rivalry, with twin brothers Jude and Cole Milford on opposing sides.
Jude, a linebacker on the Hahnville defense, and Cole, quarterback of De La Salle, are both seniors. Jude transferred to Hahnville prior to his senior year, after the brothers’ family moved into Hahnville’s attendance zone, while Cole remained with the Cavaliers.
Given their respective positions – the two matched wits and skills plenty on Friday, both physically and mentally.
“At first, it was a little shaky,” said Cole. “Seeing his eyes, eyes I see every morning, someone I brush my teeth next to. It was weird. it was crazy, but I loved it. It wasn’t just that backyard football that was competition, this was the real deal. This was a high school football game, and we both have been playing since we were 6, and we both love it so much.”
While neither could have fully known what to expect in the game, it didn’t stop each from casually letting the other know their thoughts on the matter in the weeks leading up – ever since the two found out it was on the schedule.
“We found out we were playing each other and we weren’t hesitating. It was alright, let’s go,” Cole said. “I called Jude. He said, ‘oh yeah bud, I know. I know. Just be ready. Make sure you’re ready, because your line’s not gonna be able to block me. And so, I’m like, your DBs (defensive backs) aren’t gonna be able to keep up. So, that was the first reaction and over time, we just kept talking trash.”
Jude said the hype before the game got to him a little bit, but that he wouldn’t trade the experience at all.
“I didn’t like how they made it about brother vs. brother,” Jude said. “It was Hahnville vs. De La Salle and there are 10 other guys on the field on each side. But I loved it, a great experience.”
The linebacker stayed quite busy, too – he wanted to make an impact.
“Every 10 seconds, after every play, I hear ‘Milford with another tackle. Milford with a tackle.’ That’s what was weird,” Cole said. “They’re saying my last name, but I’m on offense, he’s on defense. Then you’re looking across the line, seeing your brother, and this is not a soft sport. I just know I can handle him, he knows he can handle me, without taking it too far.”
Cole has led his team to back-to-back Division II state championship games. Jude was a part of those teams as well, but has now added a punch to the second level of the Hahnville defense.
“That’s two really good football players,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet, gesturing to the two brothers sharing a moment after the game. “Both guys that will play four years after this. I’m very excited for Cole, watching him play, he’s a great football player. Jude really gave us a little heartbeat on this team and he fits great with the guys we’ve got here.”
Luquet said Jude’s arrival was a surprise – a welcome one.
“He showed up on our doorstep,” Luquet said. “It’s a change of scenery for him. He came on and we can’t be more ecstatic.”
Through three games, Jude has made a major impact in the middle of a Hahnville defense that continues to evolve into a very strong unit, one that’s allowed just 21 total points over the past three games after a 42-point total in its opener. On Friday, Jude led the Tigers in tackles.
“We have some really good guys up front,” said Luquet. “But we also knew we needed to get better at the second level (where Jude plays).”
Trying to predict what his brother would do next was the challenge for Jude in this game, and his instincts steered him throughout the night – who could know the Cavs’ passer any better?
“I kept watching him, thinking he was going to pull the ball,” Jude said. “And, oh man, the option, that was killing us on the outside. But he played a great game. He made me bust my tail. I haven’t played a game like that in a couple of years.”
The game came down to the final play, and there were small victories on both sides throughout. Jude’s defense limited a powerful De La Salle offense throughout the night. Cole, meanwhile, nearly led a thrilling fourth quarter comeback that came up just short in the final seconds, but put his team in position to win.
But to Jude, the spoils go – and the bragging rights.
“He ain’t gonna hear the end of it,” he said with a broad smile.