Note: Milford finished with a 5-5 overall record in 2013 and was fourth in 1A North with an 0-3 record. It lost to Kanab 47-8 in the 1A quarterfinals.
Change is in the air for the Milford Tigers.
After finishing the 2013 campaign 5-5 and 0-3 in 1A North, new head coach Thane Marshall is switching things up on both offense and defense in hopes of getting Milford out of the cellar.
The most obvious changes will come on the offensive side of the ball, as Marshall has elected to toss aside the wing-T in favor of running the I-formation. Marshall is making the move primarily so that his offensive line, which he calls the team’s “strong point,” doesn’t have to think as much and can “just go hit somebody.”
“We’re just gonna line up and hit people in the mouth,” Marshall said. “We’re old-school.”
Leading the way in that regard will be running back Wade Netto. The senior rushed for 1,088 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013, both of which were tops in 1A. In the process he averaged more than 9 yards per carry. With the change to the I-formation, Marshall has a lofty vision for his lead back: the state single-season rushing record.
“The change of schemes is going to help him immensely,” Marshall said. “He’s gonna be the I-back, of course. He will carry the load.”
The magic number for Netto to set a new mark is 2,562 yards, just a hair under the 2,578 the run-heavy Tigers collectively rushed for in 2013.
Netto isn’t the only strong runner Marshall has at his disposal, however. Senior fullback Kaydon Noyes rushed for 786 yards last season, good enough for fourth in 1A. He also added seven scampers to the end zone. Noyes is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered during the wrestling season in the spring, but Marshall is confident he’ll be ready to go when Milford opens the season.
Even with so much talent returning in the backfield, Marshall is looking for more balance to the offense than Milford produced a season ago when it passed just 25 times in 10 contests. He believes his team can accomplish that with the change in scheme.
Much of the confidence Marshall has in opening up the passing game rests on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Jordan Hardy. As a freshman he passed for just 91 yards, but Marshall feels he’s ready for more responsibility.
“We are really pleased with the way he reads a defense,” Marshall said. “He’s probably one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever coached already as a sophomore. Going to the I-(formation) will open him up and he’ll be able to read (the defense) a little more.”
Changes are coming on the defensive side of the ball, too, a unit Marshall coached in 2013 before taking over as head man. That group will also be led by Netto, who led the Tigers with 123 tackles last year.
“I would hate to be another coach to face him, both on the offensive and the defensive side of the ball,” Marshall said. “He’s just one of those kids that’s always around the football. He’s just football smart. You don’t have to coach him much.”
Joining Netto at linebacker will be senior Kaydon Noyes, who was second on the squad in 2013 with 80 tackles. With eight others coming back on defense and freshman Trae Williamson joining the fold at defensive end, who Marshall calls “phenomenal,” the coach is confident that part of his team will be improved over the 2013 version.
“If we can get the defensive line to cover up the offensive line and let the linebackers do what they’re supposed to do,” Marshall said, “we’re good.”
Milford Tigers at a glance
Coach: Thane Marshall is taking over the head coaching gig in 2014 after previously serving as an assistant.
(8 returning starters; I-formation offense)
Wade Netto has proved to be an absolute beast at running back, having produced the best statistical season in 1A a year ago. Kaydon Noyes is also a solid back, and that duo will help sophomore signal-caller Jordan Hardy as he gets used to life as the starting quarterback. Marshall wants to throw the ball more than the Tigers did a year ago, but whether or not that happens with such a dominant rushing attack and a young player under center remains to be seen.
(8 returning starters)
Netto will lead the way here, too, returning as the team’s top tackler at linebacker from 2013. Noyes will join him there, and Marshall is excited about freshman Trae Williamson at defensive end, though the coach has some reservation about the overall strength of his defensive line.
Coaches preseason Region 1A North straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 1A North prediction: Third
Bottom line: The Tigers will go as far as Netto can carry them, but his production will likely not be enough to lift Milford over the likes of Duchesne and Rich in its region. The X-factor will be the play of the school's sophomore quarterback. The Tigers will certainly get a boost if Hardy can perform better than his youth might indicate.
Felt’s Facts for Milford High School
All-time record: 207-377-11 (72 years)
Region championships: 3 (1990, 1991, 1999 co)
Playoff appearances: 28
All-time playoff record: 12-27
State championships: 1 (1993)
State championship record: 1-1
Most played rivalry: 81 meetings with Parowan dating back to 1949. Milford leads 42-36-3.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Tiger Jared Barnes holds the record for single-game safeties (tied with one other), two, against Duchesne in 1993. ... Mike Grajek is one of only 18 coaches to win a state title in his first year (1993).
Milford coaching history
2014 — Thane Marshall (0-0)
2010-2013 — Brian Williamson (11-30)
2007-2009 — Robert Langston (8-24)
2000-2006 — Ricky Rose (22-51)
1999 — Daren Cheney (9-3)
1995-1998 — Robert Langston (14-23)
1994 — Franklin Bramall (9-2)
1993 — Mike Grajek (7-3)
1992 — Cleve Weaver (6-5)
1990-1991 — Brennan Jackson (18-4)
1986-1989 — Marvin Magalei (7-26)
1980-1985 — Kevin Barnes (25-28)
1978-1979 — Joe Hillock (2-13)
1977 — Dave Houle (1-7)
1976 — Monte Lee (2-6)
1973-1975 — Bob Andrus (9-20)
1968-1972 — unknown (13-28-2)
1967 — Dick Payne (0-7)
1964-1966 — Ivan Rowley (9-14-1)
1963 — unknown (3-4)
1962 — Jerry Davids (1-6)
1953-1961 — Lee Petty (22-39-3)
1949-1952 — unknown (3-19-2)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2013 — Wade Netto, RB/SS
2011 — Mauricio Hernandez, WR/DB
2010 — Chad Netto, OL/LB
2009 — Jacob Idhe, QB/FS
2009 — Chris Manuele, OL/DL
2008 — Cade Boyter, RB/LB
2006 — Blake Williams, RB/LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Ryan McDonald is a former intern at LDS Church News. He is studying communication at the University of Utah, where he works as the sports editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org