Bruins putting in hard work to get back into championship form
The Cedaredge High School football team had a good summer.
In fact, Bruins coach Brandon Milholland called it the best summer he’s seen in more than a decade of coaching high school football.
“I think it’s been the spirit of this summer that’s been so great,” Milholland said. “I asked one of the kids, ‘Why in the hell are you in the weight room, four days a week, at 7 a.m.?’
“He told me it was for the camaraderie and bonding with teammates. And another guy said being there was his morning cup of coffee.
“The consistent commitment is key. We’ve had 25 guys in the weight room every day, and we’re going to have maybe 34 players out this season. That’s the best I’ve been around in all my years of coaching, and I hope to see that continue regardless of what happens on Friday night.”
This exceptional summer comes on the heels of a season derailed by tragedy. Star running back Reid Gates, one of the keys to Cedaredge’s 2012 Class 1A state title, died of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning in an incident that hospitalized two other Cedaredge teenagers.
Although the trauma of Gates’ death rocked Cedaredge and the Bruins’ football team, Milholland said his players have started healing after the death of a teammate, and they have taken a more positive outlook.
“I think the healing really started at graduation,” Milholland said. “Time helps, too. It’s less about focusing on the tragedy of it, the death of an amazing young man, and more about how he did things. Him practicing greatness and his competitive spirit, those are the kinds of things we hang on to.”
Milholland sees Gates in the same light as former quarterbacks Trent Walker and Dante Markley, as well as Cade Wasser and Carter Wasser. They’re the foundation of what Milholland hopes is the Cedaredge football program. The recent alumni of Cedaredge sparked a busy summer for the Bruins, Milholland is excited about a lot of young players.
First, there’s Corey Reynolds. He’s a 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman with quick feet and smooth footwork. He’s generated interest from college football programs and will be the anchor of the Cedaredge lines.
Senior playmakers Xander Camp and Tylor Beach both return, and Milholland said the priority of the offense will be putting the ball in their hands.
The tricky part, though, will be replacing Walker at quarterback. Milholland said three players, two of them freshmen, are competing for the starting job.
One option is Beach, which allows Milholland to utilize one of the Bruins’ most athletic players.
“It’s hard for him to make plays without the ball in his hands, and that definitely puts the ball in his hands,” Milholland said.
But freshmen Drew Markley and Pedro Madaleno will have an opportunity to win the job.
“It’s really tough to play quarterback as a freshman,” Milholland said. “Not so much physically, but mentally. A lot of these guys, like Pedro and Drew, are just as physically developed as these juniors and seniors. What they really have to learn is the speed of the game. You have to be able to make smart decisions more quickly, and young guys really have to pick up on that.”
Milholland said although the words “quarterback by committee” are met with negativity, when done correctly, it can bring the best out in everybody.
“With our line, I think we’ll be OK,” Milholland said. “They’re our leaders, and they don’t care who is behind them, only who is in front of them. I think we have the right mentality and a good group of guys to win some games.”