Note: Milford finished with a 3-8 overall record in 2010 and a 2-1 record in the 1A South region. It lost to Altamont, 51-12, in the 1A playoffs' first round.
MILFORD — To turn a program around, sometimes all it takes is the right guy at the right time. Milford might've found that with Brian Williamson.
After taking over the program just a few weeks before last season started, Williamson has been transforming the culture of Milford football ever since.
The players have been lifting throughout the offseason, they've gone to several camps, and they're excited about the 2011 season. That's a stark contrast from year's past.
"One thing this program has lacked is just practice. We would just show up and decide to do that, and you can't do that in any sport," said Williamson, who went to high school in Florida but whose wife is from Milford. "You actually have to have a program and build that. From year to year, your program is what makes your kids. That's what I believe in."
Despite the excitement, Milford is still very much a rebuilding project.
This year's starters will include four seniors, one junior and the rest will be primarily freshman. It's not necessarily a recipe for success, but Williamson doesn't expect it to be that way forever.
"Milford didn't have a real little league football team, it didn't have a flag football team, now we have both. I'm building the program from the young kids, so I know I'm going to have them coming up from here on out," said Williamson.
This year's team will have 18 freshman, and next year Williamson expects that number to be in the low 20s.
"I just hope we stick with the program and the system, the town keeps backing us as good as they've been backing us, and we just continue to go down the road in steps," he said.
Despite being so young, Milford should still be able to compete with the middle of the pack in 1A. It's probably several years away from doing so against 1A powers like Duchesne and Rich, but the Tigers should be able to hang with teams like Layton Christian, Diamond Ranch, etc.
Because Milford will be so young, it will utilize the spread offense and then a 3-5 scheme on defense. Both approaches enable his kids to read and react.
Defensively, Milford used to put everyone in the box and hope for the best. Williamson believes the defensive switch will help his players compete right away.
One area Milford won't be outmanned is special teams. Mauricio Hernandez can kick the ball 70 yards, and routinely putting it in the end zone will mean opponents must start at the 20-yard line. That should give the Tigers a big edge in field position every Friday night.
Milford Tigers at a glance
Coach: Brian Williamson is entering his second year as head coaching following a 3-8 inaugural season. He's a graduate of Coral Gables High School in Florida.
(5 returning starters; Spread offense)
Hernandez isn't just a great kicker, but he's a pretty good quarterback as well. His favorite target will definitely be Jared Ihde. Though the 5-foot-7 receiver isn't that big, he's a good route runner and never gives up. Daniel Hardy is the lone senior on the offensive line. Braxton Davis and Braxton Higgins are both talented running backs.
(5 returning starters)
Milford is undersized on the line, and Williamson will use a 3-5 defense to basically concede the point of attack. His linebackers and defensive backs will be fast and athletic, though, and he's hoping they can make up for lack of size in the trenches.
Coaches preseason 1A poll: Sixth
Deseret News 1A prediction: SixthComment on this story
Bottom line: Milford will be able to compete, but the ability to win games consistently is still probably several years away with the coaching staff counting on so many freshman to make big contributions.
Aug. 26 — WHITE PINE, NEV., 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — at Whitehorse, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — at Diamond Ranch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Rich, 4 p.m.
Oct. 7 — MONUMENT VALLEY, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Monticello, 7 p.m.