Milken’s first ever tackle football team began their inaugural season on Thursday, September 1, in an away game against San Diego Jewish Academy.
“We are the fourth Jewish high school to play the game in this country,” coach Jerry Martin said. “Students here will have an opportunity to learn the great high school sport – in an appropriate setting. Students looking at Milken will know that there is another piece of the high school experience here for them; other students can enjoy all the work of their peers.”
“It felt so good to finally be in pads playing tackle football,” co-captain and quarterback Charlie Heller ’12 said. “I felt honored to represent my school and to be able to play for friends and family in the stands.”
A bus was provided to transport seniors to the game to cheer on their classmates, and a large group opted to come, filling the bus to the brim. Also present in the crowd were assorted faculty members and the administration, who assembled in a show of school pride. Overall, the Milken fans displayed commendable school spirit and made their presence known in the stands, even amidst a sea of San Diego fans.
“It was great that kids would take the time and come down to San Diego to watch the game,” Heller said. “Everyone on the team was so pumped for the fans to be there and it made us want to play even harder.”
A game highlight included an impressive 58-yard run by Josh Simmons ’12, which set up a touchdown by co-captain Mitchell Mayer ’13, current touchdown leader. Simmons also racked up ten tackles, followed by Jake Davidson ’13, who had nine.
“The team displayed endurance, poise, attitude, defensive effort from some key folks, the beginnings of an atmosphere of mental toughness,” Martin said.
The team’s impressive first performance is due in large part to the coaching staff.
“I think that everyone in this community should realize the commitment of the players AND the adults working with them,” Martin said. “We have adults constantly offering to help out with no thought of compensation. The teaching on the field is first rate… I more than anyone am learning a great deal. So a tip of the hat to Greg Weiss, Ed Skully, Andy Tarkchian, Henry the security guard, trainers, Summer Bloom, Chris Stegeman and weights and agility coach Adam Deckel.”
Although the final score ended at 25-8 with San Diego ultimately securing the victory, the team is looking forward to facing future opponents and improving specific skills. According to Heller, the team needs to specifically refine their passing game.
“We need to throw better if we would like to be successful,” he said.
Martin added that the team could also work on “gang tackling, pass protection, sustaining contact, better containment on the edges of defense and smoother transitions with kicking teams.”
All in all, the game was a great way to kick off the season and really brought together the Milken community.
“This sport goes against some of the assumptions kids may have of Milken students, such as lack of toughness and determination,” Martin said. “What these players have exhibited during the heat of August and so far in September suggests great heart.”
To see photos from the game, click here.
To see a video compilation of the game, press play below.
Video compilation courtesy of Ariana Hewitt.
Featured image courtesy of Alexi Rosenfeld.