October 2, 2017 by Logan Huff, Arizona State University
After experiencing four losses in five games thus far, the Millennium Tigers are working to better their team, on and off the football field.
Such is the job for Millennium head coach Lamar Early.
The Tigers football team is made up of 62 players working together, with bigger goals in mind than just stopping runs and moving down the field.
“The most important message we are trying to push is showing what it means to be a brotherhood and a family,” Early said. “There is a lot of ingredients to that.”
Early was hired on May 16, 2017, after the team’s former head coach abruptly resigned an hour before a spring practice.
With the program having three head coaches in last four years, it is working toward providing consistency for the players. The coaches say consistency will provide the team a stable platform to grow.
“It was slow at first, getting the team to understand that we really are there to help these kids be successful,” said Michael Loprich, Millennium defensive coordinator. “Understandably, it was a tough situation for them.”
When Early was hired as head coach, he already knew some background on the football program, being from the west side. He knew what he was getting into when he accepted the position.
“I have a lot of family that went to Millennium,” Early said. “I know what they had in the past and that was a good football team and a good program. We are just trying to get it back to that.”
The coaching staff is working toward the same goal. Specifically, Loprich’s focus is on their future and the long run.
“Football provides us a conduit to help young men develop their minds to become competitive and successful in adulthood. We want to help create better future citizens, husbands, fathers, workers and future contributors to our community, nation and planet.”
Since the start of the season, the coaches and the players have seen a change in the team’s interactions and behaviors. Early said the players show they’re working to change but in times of pressure, they often revert to their old ways.
When asked what can be improved on within the team, junior quarterback Zareq Brown talked about the team’s interactions.
“We are much better than we were but I feel like we can improve more,” Brown said. “We need to work on team camaraderie, meaning collectively staying in tune and keeping our heads in the game.”
With only nine returning starters the Tigers are continuing to build their program each year. The coaching staff, captains and leaders are working towards the same goal.
“It’s a process and a year-long program,” Loprich said. “Many of the kids started realizing the skills we are trying to provide to them are not just about football. It’s about setting yourself up for success in life.”