Mustangs starting over
Milwaukie has graduated most of the starters from last year's successful team
MILWAUKIE - It could be a long football season for the Milwaukie Mustangs.
Most of the players from last year's team that advanced to postseason play for the first time since 1991 have graduated, and the Mustangs have reloaded with a number of players inexperienced at the varsity level.
The inexperience showed in the Mustangs' first two preseason games, a 30-0 loss to Battle Ground and a 55-7 setback at Barlow.
True, the Mustangs were missing their top running back - Mike Collazo - for most of the Battle Ground game and the entire contest with Barlow. But Collazo is going to need his teammates to step it up a couple of notches if the Mustangs are going to compete in the Three Rivers League.
'After last week [at Barlow], I was incredibly disgusted,' said senior co-captain Jimmy Haman.
'We need to play more physical,' said Collazo. 'We need to play fast. We need to trust one another and play as a team.'
'We need to be more disciplined,' said Haman.
Collazo was a leading rusher for the Mustangs last season, averaging 5.4 yards a carry in 113 trips with the pigskin. The 5-10, 210-pound senior has been out mending an ankle sprain, but he is expected to be back for this Friday's preseason game with Redmond.
Haman, like Collazo, is among a handful of skilled athletes returning to the Mustang lineup who were part of last year's successful team.
'I've been at Milwaukie 16 years and he's the second best defensive lineman [next to Zach Freiter, 1997] I've worked with,' said Milwaukie line coach Roland Aumueller. 'He's got a passion for the game, and he's got the physical ability [to play college football].'
Haman, who starts at defensive end and at offensive tackle, stands 6-1 and tips the scales at 250.
'He's a great athlete who's dedicated in the weight room,' said Aumueller. 'He benches 335, squats 550 and power cleans 315.'
Aumueller says that Haman contributed to 29 tackles in the Mustangs' first two games.
Haman and returning center Mike Miettinen (6-0, 280) were both second-team all-league selections last season.
Andrew Lee (5-11, 180), who earned second-team all-league recognition as a receiver in 2005, is the Mustangs' starting quarterback.
Haman and senior Tyler Thomas (5-10, 220) are the only returnees from last year's starting lineup on defense.
The Mustangs return a veteran kicker and punter in Paul Hubbard (6-4, 205), who was sidelined with an injury last season but saw starting action as a sophomore.
The Mustangs can't afford an injury. Milwaukie first-year head coach John Romanaggi says he is starting eight players on both sides of the football.
Among those Romanaggi considered starters following the loss to Barlow were: seniors Lee (QB), Collazo (fullback), Haman (tackle, DE), Porter (WR/safety), Miettinen (center/NG), Thomas (guard/LB), Hubbard (WR, kicker, punter), Devon Gende (6-4, 190, TE/LB), Brian Orr (6-2, 195, DE), Adam Phillips (5-7, 170, cornerback) and Zach Kill (5-11, 190, LB); and juniors Sean Scott (5-6, 165, tailback/safety), Kevin Temple (6-0, 205, guard/LB), Taylor Wilkins (6-1, 185, WR, safety), Cody Barnes, 5-9, 165, cornerback) and Jon Opperud (6-6, 265, tackle).
'We're pleased with the effort and attitude,' said Romanaggi. 'The keys for us are going to be getting the kids to believe in themselves and play more physical. And we've got to stay healthy.'
The Mustangs will have their work cut out for them in league, as their league openers are with Lake Oswego and with Clackamas.