_Note_: Milford finished with an 11-1 overall record in 2017 and first in 1A South with a 3-0 record. It beat Duchesne 28-14 in the 1A championship.
MILFORD — It might be too cliche to say, but the Milford Tigers’ 2017 season really did have a storybook ending.
To understand it, let’s go back to 2014. Assistant coach Thane Marshall took over the program and the Tigers went 4-6 in his first campaign, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Milford got better by a game in 2015, going 5-5, and then went 7-4 in 2016.
Heading into 2017, the Tigers brought back a whopping 18 seniors, plus five underclassmen who had been major contributors.
“This year is kind of an exciting year for Milford,” Marshall told the Deseret News last year. “When you can have 18 seniors and you’re the smallest school that plays football in Utah, that’s big...we’re hoping to take that one more step and happen to be lucky and maybe even win state this year. That’s what we’re hoping. Of course, that’s everybody’s dream and hope. You’ve still got to beat Kanab and Duchesne and Rich.”
It’s as if Marshall could predict the future. After going 8-1 in the regular season, Milford beat Rich in the first round of the playoffs, then Kanab in the semifinals and Duchesne in the finals for the Tigers’ first championship in 24 years.
“It was a storybook ending for those seniors for sure,” Marshall said earlier this summer. “It’s been pretty cool. I’ve won as a player, I’ve won as an assistant coach, but this takes precedence over anything.”
Despite losing so many seniors, Marshall doesn’t hesitate in saying he’s expecting success once again in 2018, as a bunch of players were major contributors as underclassmen during the championship run.
“We’ve got four to five guys coming back on both sides of the ball,” he said. “I’m looking for big things. I’m hoping everybody overlooks us.”
Milford Tigers at a glance
Coach: Thane Marshall is entering his fifth season as the Tigers’ head coach. He has an overall record of 27-16 through his first four years at the helm.
Milford offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Wes Marshall
2017 offensive production: 38.3 ppg (1st in 1A)
- 4 returning starters
- Spread offense
Key offensive returning starter
- Bryson Barnes (QB): As just a sophomore in 2017, Barnes put up remarkable numbers, passing for 2,822 yards with 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Returning offensive starters
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Bret Bebee (RB/WR)
- Jarrett Sullivan (RB/WR)
- Russell Walker (OL)
- Carson Cox (OL)
- Carson Wunderlich (WR)
- Paxton Henrie (WR)
- Zach Sherwood (WR)
Coach Marshall’s comments on Bryson Barnes:
“Bryson won’t let them be complacent. He is a true winner. He wills everybody else around him to be that much better.”
Coach Marshall’s comments on the offensive line:
“Our line is going to be our strength this year. When you return two tackles that are 280 (pounds) apiece (Ike Keller and Wyatt Parker), that’s pretty good at the 1A level.”
Keys for offensive success: While Marshall has to fill seven spots vacated through graduation, he’s got a great quarterback in Barnes and most of a big, talented offensive line coming back. He anticipates having a good deal of speed at running back as well. Can those new running backs produce like Marshall hopes? Can the wide receivers step up to help maximize Barnes’ talents, allowing the Tigers to once again be an elite offense?
Milford defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Isaako “Tui” Aaitui
2017 offensive production: 13.9 ppg (3rd in 1A)
- 5 returning starters
- 4-3 defense
Key defensive returning starter
- Ike Keller (DL): Tied for the team lead in 2017 with 10 sacks and was fourth in tackles with 65.
Returning defensive starters
- Ike Keller (DL)
- Wyatt Parker (DL)
- Alec Williams (LB)
- Russell Walker (Was DL, will be LB)
- Gage Hardy (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Vincent Pierce (DL)
- Gage Griffiths (LB)
- Bret Bebee (DB)
- Jarrett Sullivan (DB)
- Carson Wunderlich (DB)
- Zach Sherwood (DB)
Coach Marshall’s comments on overall defensive depth:
“We’re three deep just about in every position on defense. We’re trying to invent places to get some of the kids on the football field, and that’s a good problem to have.”
Coach Marshall’s comments on defensive back Carson Wunderlich:
“He’s stepping up and being that role of, ‘OK, we lost our leaders. Now I’m a senior. I’m going to step up. This is my team now and here we go.’”
Coach Marshall’s comments on the linebacker position:
“That’s going to be our big question, at linebacker.”
Keys for defensive success: The Tigers lost quite a bit from last year’s team in terms of statistical production, but can their big defensive line impose its will and get results? The defensive backs should be fine given their speed and solid size. Will Marshall be able to find playmakers at linebacker? If the offense isn’t quite as good as it was in 2017, can the defense step up in close games if need be?
Coaches preseason 1A South straw poll: Second
Deseret News 1A South prediction: Second
Key region game: at Parowan Oct. 19
Bottom line: As the defending state champions, the Tigers will get everyone’s best shot in 2018. Can they stay consistent throughout the season, especially over a back half that sees them play a tough schedule between road games and quality opponents? Can both sides of the ball be at least close to as good as they were in 2017 despite having to replace a good deal of playmakers? If newcomers can step up, the presence of Barnes and returning quality in the trenches should be able to go a long way in carrying Milford to another successful campaign.
- Aug. 17 — GUNNISON, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — at White Pine, Nev., 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — LAYTON CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Rich, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — at Altamont, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Kanab, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — MONTICELLO, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 19 — at Parowan, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Milford
All-time record: 234-393-11 (76 years)
Region championships: 4 (1990, 1991, 1999 co, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 32
Current playoff appearance streak: 9 (2009-2017)
All-time playoff record: 16-30
State championships: 2 (1993, 2017)
State championship record: 2-1
Most played rivalry: 5 meetings with Parowan dating back to 1949. Milford leads 45-37-3.
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).
- 2017 — 11-1 (3-0 in 1A South – 1A Champions)
- 2016 — 7-4 (3-1 in 1A South – 1A Semifinals)
- 2015 — 5-5 (1-3 in 1A South – 1A Quarterfinals)
- 2014 — 4-6 (1-2 in 1A North – 1A Quarterfinals)
- 2013 — 5-5 (0-3 in 1A North – 1A Quarterfinals)
Milford coaching history
- 2014-current — Thane Marshall (27-16)
- 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 MVPs the past 10 years
- 2017 — Ty Netto, RB/SS
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2017 — Isiah Montoya, K
- 2017 — Trae Williamson, OL/LB
- 2017 — Colton Pomerinke, WR/DB
- 2017 — Jaxon Davis, WR/LB
- 2017 — Cole Wilson, WR/DB
- 2017 — Stetson Wright, WR/DB
- 2017 — Bryson Barnes, QB
- 2016 — Bryson Barnes, QB
- 2016 — Ty Netto, RB/DB
- 2016 — Trae Williamson, OL/LB
- 2016 — Isiah Montoya, K
- 2016 — Jaxon Davis, WR/LB
- 2015 — Jordan Hardy, QB
- 2014 — Wade Netto, RB/LB
- 2014 — Nathan Barnes, WR/DB
- 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
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.