Football Preview 2017: Pioneers eager to build off last year’s success

Millbrook coach Josh Haymore works with his team at a recent practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — Millbrook lost a lot from last year’s team, which went 10-2 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. However, the Pioneers still have a few key pieces returning and a strong nucleus of players who gained some valuable experience last season.

Millbrook head coach Josh Haymore said one thing that is beneficial is that they were able to get a lot of kids playing time last season, even if they weren’t starters.

“As coaches we did a good job of putting those guys in situations where we might be up by three, four touchdowns in the second quarter and we put those backups in,” Haymore said. “So they got game experience, not just mop-up time. They did a good job with that.”

The Pioneers will certainly have plenty of speed on the team this season. Starting running back Savon Smith ran for 1,669 yards and 26 touchdowns last year.

Haymore said the junior has improved in the offseason.

“He’s gotten bigger,” Haymore said. “He’s also going to be playing two ways for us this year.”

Haymore said they will be able to take Smith out on offense at times, because Noah Robinson and Tyrek Talley will be solid back-ups at the running back spot.

Isaac Brown will be the starting quarterback. The senior transferred to Millbrook last winter from Martinsburg High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Brown has already committed to play wide receiver at the University of Richmond. Haymore said Brown may also play some at wide receiver for the Pioneers.

“He’s doing really good,” Haymore said. “He’s a very coachable kid. He’s a leader. He’s not a huge vocal get in your face guy. But he makes sure everybody’s in the right spot.”

Haymore said the Pioneers lost all four of their starting wide receivers last year to graduation.

However, he said Millbrook should have plenty of solid options to go to.

Haymore said Hunter Shaw and Jordan Jackson will see plenty of time at receiver, and he’ll use Smith and the other running backs in the slot as well.

Nick Kline returns at center for the Pioneers, and Haymore said that he has plenty of confidence in Cline.

“He’s a really, really good center,” Haymore said. “He’s physical, he’s lean. He’s a leader enough to where people listen when he talks.”

Senior Myles Bruce will play on the offensive line for the first time this year, but the other three spots are up for grabs according to Haymore.

Bruce will lead the way on the defensive front, where he is the only returning starter. Bruce had seven sacks last year for Millbrook.

Haymore said Brandon Shingleton is the only starter returning at linebacker.

In the secondary, Brown and Smith will play at the corners. Haymore said Shaw will likely play at safety with the other safety spot up for grabs.

Sam Nicol is expected to handle the kicking duties.

Haymore said he just wants his players to give it everything they’e got this season.

“I just want them to come out every day and play hard and play fast and play Milbrook football,” Haymore said.