EHHS football builds for next season

By Evan Pajer - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Nov. 15, 2012
EHHS's freshman football team runs drills during a practice on Nov. 14. Photos by Evan Pajer.
EHHS's freshman football team runs drills during a practice on Nov. 14. Photos by Evan Pajer.

For East Hartford High School varsity football coach Rick Milton, this season is all about getting better, both in and out of the game. Milton, who is in his first year coaching varsity football at the school, after 13 years of teaching and coaching in Bloomfield, has his eyes set on improving his team for next season. The team went 2-8 last year, and is 1-8 this year, after winning against Conard High School.

“It's about teaching the kids to develop the skills that they lack,” Milton said. “We've seen a lot of growth academically and on the field.” This year, four players on the varsity team also play for the school's freshman football team, which Milton and Mark Brown, who coaches the freshman team, see as the heart of the school's football program. “We're only as successful as the freshman team,” Milton said.

Brown said that of the 38 students who signed up for the freshman team this year, as many as 20 of them had never played football before. This year, the freshman team has a 4-5 record going into their next game against Manchester, an impressive feat for a team with players who had never played before. Brown said that the largest part of training his freshman team was outreach: “You've got to reach out to the kids and show that you care about them,” he said.

Dedication is a major aspect of life on the varsity team, which assembles on the football field for practice each day as soon as school ends. The team has been on a new training regimen since last winter, designed by the coaches, in addition to training during their study halls. The team has also changed its offense and defense since last year.

In December, the team will also begin lifting weights before the school day starts. “I have confidence that we'll be better,” Milton said. “The kids are really committed to getting better.” Milton said that this year was all about the team and the coaching staff getting to know each other, and was an opportunity for the team to truly learn the game of football.

“It's our goal to earn our respect and outwork the other schools,” Milton said.

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