Tackle football set to begin

Jake Davidson

Managing Editor

On September 8, 2011, student-athletes from Milken will take the field against Faith Baptist in their season opener as part of the first tackle football team in Milken history. The team will compete in the eight-man Heritage League, the most competitive eight-man tackle league in Southern California.

A Milken Tackle football program was proposed to the Milken board in 2009, by Mr. Jason Kelly, Head of Athletics K-12, as part of the athletic department’s strategic plan for 2009-2015. Originally, the football team would be created once Milken had purchased the land and built adequate facilities for the team. However, following another championship in the flag football league, there was a push from both parents and students to begin a tackle football program even without a permanent home.

The Wildcats will be led by Mr. Jerry Martin who has coaching and playing experience at both the high school and collegiate level. Martin was also the coach of the flag football team for the last four years, winning two league championships in that span. In addition to Martin will be Associate Head Coach Greg Weiss, the most accomplished eight-man football coach in America, winning a national title and 4 CIF titles while at Faith Baptist School. The rest of the coaching staff will be hired over the next few weeks.

The squad will practice at Balboa Park and play home games at Birmingham High School. Practices will start August 1 in preparation for the season and each student athlete needs to practice at least 25 times in order to play in games. Summer Bloom, Coordinator of Sports Science and Medicine, will be at every home and away game and all contact practices.

Currently athletes who aren’t involved in a spring sport, are completing a rigorous off-season training program under Coach Adam Dekel.

The team will have a no cut policy and already close to 50 students have shown interest in the team. The hope is that 30-35 players will fully commit to playing on the team.

While there will be an adjustment to tackle football from flag, in conditioning, run options, and kicking, there will be some facets of the game that remain the same, like elements of passing and offensive blocking.

“I would like to believe that there is a logical progression from our success in the flag league – and the way we approached the game – to embracing full contact.  I believe our young men are ready for this step,” Martin said.

Many students are excited for the team, which will add a new component to the high school experience of students at Milken.

“I think that there could be nothing better for Milken than a football team. It will bring us together, and we can actually have a real homecoming game,” Jason Welsh ’13 said.

In addition to student excitement, many members of the Milken administration are looking forward to tackle football.

“I am tremendously excited. Our athletic program and school can now boast that we offer the finest private Jewish day school education and the complete American high school experience. I am looking forward to school spirit and community involvement hitting new heights and for us all to enjoy the fun that football can bring to a school,” Kelly said.

Featured graphic by Jeff Zolan.