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Milford Cheerleading has title aspirations Scarlett Hawks seek state crown

The Milford cheerleading team is a bit smaller this fall, but still has high expectations for the season. Photo courtesy Heather Johnson

By Chris Villani
The Milford High cheerleading team is smaller than normal this fall, the product of having a large group of seniors depart last year. But head coach Heather Johnson said her team is sharpening its routine and tacking on added difficulty with the hope of competing for some hardware.
“The goal is always to go out and be the best they can be every time they hit the mat,” Johnson said. “We want a routine with no deductions or penalties and we want to go out there and have fun and do the best they can.”
Senior captains Patricia Fernandes and Cailyn Naugler have been leading the way for Milford, which has 15 cheerleaders on the varsity roster and 13 who will be part of the competition squad. Fellow seniors Abigail Annantuonio and Caleigh Wilson are also integral cogs when it comes to making sure that MHS is performing at its best.
“Our captains and seniors have been great motivators for the team,” Johnson said. “They want them to practice hard and come together as a team, to work as a unit. They have done a great job providing positive feedback and critiques where needed, it’s been helpful to push our younger kids along.”
Johnson said having a smaller roster does not really impact the routine the Hawks can put out on the mat. 
“I love the look of a big team, having more people in the air, but there is a rubric depending on the number of people you have on the team,” she said. “There is nothing that holds them back. They are still just as strong, even with a smaller team.”
The cheerleading competition season kicked off in October and will ramp up through the month of November. Milford earned a win at an invitational to start the competition slate ahead of the Hockomock League meet the first weekend in November. The Scarlet Hawks also have their sights set on qualifying for regionals and states. 
“We have been doing a little tweaking of our stunts to make them more difficult, because they feel like they are ready,” Johnson said. “They are ready and prepared to keep pushing themselves.”
Under the longtime coach, Milford has captured a total of seven state championships in cheerleading, with the last one coming during the fall of 2021. Johnson said she hopes this team can potentially add yet another banner.
“They definitely have the drive and the desire and the talent,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “Any given Sunday, I guess.”