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High school football: Milford Tigers 2009 preview

Three. That's the number of wins the Milford High football team has accumulated in 19 attempts across the last two seasons.

It is also, however, the number of players the Tigers lost to graduation last June. With so many experienced players returning to the team, head coach Robert Langston expects that come November, the number in the win column for this season will be a much larger one than usual.

"The kids are ready to win," Langston said. "We have almost everybody back and we played every team close last year. I believe we'll do pretty well."

Leading the Tigers this season will be senior quarterback Jacob Ihde. The two-year starter "is has a real toughness about him," Langston said. "He has that can't-stand-to-lose attitude that you just can't teach."

Working with Ihde will be a handful of experienced linemen, including seniors Chris Manuele and Austin Thieme and juniors Tyler Denny and David Pierce, all of whom will be starting for the third year in a row.

"We're a big team," Langston said, referring to the 6-foot-6 Denny and 6-foot-3 Pierce. "We may be a little young in the backfield, but we'll be quick and we're going to be real big up front."

With only about 80 students attending Milford High, the Tigers are the smallest school in Utah to field a football team. It's a team of just 25 players, and this causes Langston to worry a little.

"My biggest fear is that we'll have injuries," he said. "I think we're going to be pretty good, as long as we can stay healthy."

Overall, Langston is confident that his squad has the talent to surprise a few opponents this year.

"It's time to prove everybody wrong," he said.

And with another small senior class, only three seniors will be starting on offense this year.

"I think we'll be good for the next few years," Langston said.

Milford Tigers at a glance

Coach: Robert Langston is entering his third year at Milford with a 3-16 record. This will be Langston's seventh year as a high school football coach. He has accumulated a 17-41 overall record during that time.

Key players: Quarterback Jacob Ihde will lead the Tigers again this season, and he will be protected by a strong line in Chris Manuele, Austin Thieme, Tyler Denny and David Pierce.

Strengths: Size and experience. The Tigers have almost their entire team returning this season, including seven three-year starters, and many of them are over 6-feet tall. The quick speed of the offense is also going to be an advantage for Milford.

Concerns: Small numbers. An injury-plagued season could devastate this team of just 25 players.

Last year: 2-8, did not make playoffs

Predicted 1A South finish: Second

Postseason possibilities: A run at the state title is definitely in reach for the Tigers, especially now that the recent realignment has placed them competing for it with other schools their own size.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — at Layton Christian, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — at White Pine, Nev., 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — BEAVER, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — LINCOLN COUNTY, NEV., 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — WHITEHORSE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 — at Rich, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — MONUMENT VALLEY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — at Monticello, 7 p.m.

e-mail: sthomas@desnews.com