MILAN – The football team at Milan High School recovered nicely in 2014 from its sub-par season the year before.
When it looked like the Bulldogs might spiral toward another season with few wins and no playoff games after a couple of disappointing losses and the loss of starting quarterback Marshall Harrison, things turned around with a win at South Gibson in which the Bulldogs stopped a late comeback by the Hornets.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that win saved our season, but it was a big win that started a win streak for us,” said Milan head coach Jeff Morris.
What the win did was spark the beginning of a seven-game streak of victories that didn’t stop until the state semifinals, ensuring the Bulldogs of their sixth state semifinal appearance in seven years.
Milan lost a lot of experience from that team this past spring when a lot of key players received their high school diplomas, but Morris said the cupboard isn’t bare.
“We may only have a few starters coming back on each side of the ball, but it’s not like there’s no experience coming back,” Morris said. “We may have lost Marshall Harrison, and that had an effect on our season.
“But because he got hurt in the fifth game of the year, that means there’s nine games of experience Landon Walker has as a starting quarterback because of that injury. We have that going for us in that respect in a number of positions.”
Morris wouldn’t commit to saying any particular part of the team will definitely be a strength for the Bulldogs to hang their hat on, but there is potential in different areas.
“The last two years we’ve had to replace our offensive line, and this year we’ve got two starters back,” Morris said. “Most years, you might not think that’s a good thing, but I can tell you it beats having to replace everybody up front.
“But those two guys will be pushed for their starting jobs and playing time. Another good thing is we will be bigger up front, too. So that should help.”
Morris is quick to point to the fact the Bulldogs open with a defending state champion from Peabody, which happens to be the Bulldogs’ oldest rival, followed by another big rival in Humboldt, which typically manages to give Milan more of a game than expected. Then play in the new Region 7-3A begins with a game against Liberty.
“They’ve been one of the premier programs around here the last few years, and they’ll look to start play in the district with a win,” Morris said. “We hope to be able to compete with them and see what happens. That’s kind of how we’re looking at the entire season right now.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751