Note: Milford finished with a 1-9 overall record in 2012 and was fourth in 1A South with a 1-3 record. It lost to Duchesne 55-22 in the 1A first round.
MILFORD — The days of being one of Class 1A’s whipping boys are over for the Milford Tigers.
Two years ago Milford started a ton of freshman and was routinely clobbered on its way to a 2-8 record. Last season those same kids again made up the bulk of the team, and the result was a 1-9 record.
Heading into the 2013 season, those youngsters aren’t so young anymore and Milford is ready to compete.
“We went from being really young and getting beat up, and now we have juniors and seniors. That changes everything,” said Milford coach Brian Williamson. “You’re going to see a very poised team this year that knows what they’re doing. They’re not young.”
The bulk of Milford’s starters are still underclassmen, but physically they’re ready to compete.
In years past, Williams’ biggest coaching challenge was keeping the kids motivated amid all the blowout losses. This season the challenge is convincing his players they can win.
“At first it’s going to be a really big mindset problem for a lot of them. For the past 13 years this program has lost,” said Williamson. “I think I picked a pretty good schedule this year and I plugged in the games that make us start to feel and believe that we’re going to be able to win.”
That easier schedule includes games against Beaver’s JV team and Kanab’s JV team, along with nonregion games against Whitehorse, Monument Valley and White Pine, Nev.
The meat of the schedule, however, will come during Weeks 3-5 when the Tigers play region games against Altamont, Duchesne and Rich. Last season they lost to Rich by 36 and Duchesne by 33. Those two games will be the true test for Milford about how far the program has come.
Williamson believes the Tigers can be successful. Back in July Milford competed in a team camp with Parowan, Kanab and Enterprise, and he was very pleased with the results.
“We basically went into camp with five or six plays, and came out of that camp as one of the top one or top two in the camp as far as performance,” said Williamson.
Defensively, Milford could be exponentially better than a year ago when it gave up 40 points per game. The defensive front is the big reason why.
“I’ll basically put my D-line up against anyone. We’ve got kids that have naturally grown with age, but also growing with physical conditioning —20, 30, 40 pounds — and that’s just strength and muscle,” said Williamson.
If Milford does get things turned around this season, it will be a major accomplishment for Williamson, who’s poured his heart and soul into football at Milford — from the varsity level all the way down to little league football.
Milford Tigers at a glance
Coach: Brian Williamson is entering his fourth year as head coach at Milford after putting together a 6-25 record his first three seasons. He’s a graduate of Coral Gables High School in Florida.
(11 returning starters; wing-T offense)
Wade Netto rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore last season, and big things are expected of him against this season. Kaydon Noyes is another junior running back with high expectations. Senior Jalen Hardy takes over at QB after sitting out last season, and his understanding of the wing-T offense has gotten better and better throughout the summer. Lucas O’Daniel will be a four-year starter on the offensive line, and coach Williamson praised the senior for his commitment to the program and realistically being an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
(7 returning starters)
The heart of the defense will be Noyes at linebacker and Netto at safety. Noyes missed nearly 90 percent of last season with injury, and his return will be a huge boost for the Tigers. Nose guard Douglas Hathaway is another player back this season after missing most of 2012 with injury. Hathaway’s return, along with standouts like O’Daniel, Cade Partridge and Gabe Thompson, give the Tigers a pretty formidable defensive front this season.
Coaches preseason 1A North straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News 1A North prediction: Fourth
Bottom line: Physically, Milford can finally compete at the varsity level, but winning football games at the varsity level is an entirely different challenge. The schedule is definitely set up nicely for Milford to be able to win roughly half its games, but the program doesn’t want to be defined as a team that beats JV teams. It wants to compete with the top teams in 1A, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Milford will no doubt be better this season, but it will definitely be an underdog in region games against Altamont, Duchesne and Rich.
Milford coaching history
2010-current — Brian Williamson (6-25)
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
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
2003 — Damon Carter, OL/LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Follow Deseret News prep editor James Edward on Twitter @DNewsPreps