By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Millbrook coach Reed Prosser can see a big difference in quarterback Curtis Daily this season.
Last year was Daily's first as the Pioneers' signal caller and Prosser said he had the deer-in-the-headlights look for most of the season. With a year of experience under his belt, Daily is looking like a veteran for the Pioneers in the preseason.
"He's certainly done a lot of developing in the last year," Prosser said. "He's matured in all phases of his life. He's become a real leader in the huddle."
Daily threw for 633 yards on 60-for-118 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions last year. He helped guide Millbrook to a 5-6 record and a Region II, Division 3 berth.
Coming into this season, Daily is more confident than ever, and it has showed as he has looked sharp in the Pioneers' two scrimmages.
"I really know the system now. I've learned a lot," Daily said. "Things have been really smooth so far. This year I can tell everybody else what to do. I know where everybody is supposed to be and can take better charge of the huddle.
"I'm really comfortable with everything, and that makes a big difference."
Another player who had a lot to learn last year was Carter Barnett, who transferred from California last year. Barnett made the adjustment to a new school easily.
The linebacker finished the season with a team-high 105 tackles, three sacks and one interception.
Barnett said things have been much different this preseason.
"Last year I was the new kid, so it was a little rough starting out," Barnett said. "This year I'm a captain and a senior. It's a little more responsibility.
"The system is different than what I was used to in California. I know this system better now and I'm used to it now. So hopefully I can do even better this year."
Prosser said he believes being on the wrestling team last year also helped out the 6-foot, 170-pound Barnett, and he expects another solid season from him.
"He's a really cerebral young man," Prosser said. "He understands what we're trying to do. He has great natural instincts."
The Pioneers had two tough scrimmages against Loudoun County and Harrisonburg, which Prosser said helped the team prepare for the season.
Millbrook's first game is against Briar Woods, a team the Pioneers are very familiar with.
The two teams have played several close games over the last few years, including a win in the playoffs in 2007. Last year the Pioneers beat the Falcons, 21-14. The game-winning touchdown came on a Jordan Hartman 65-yard punt return.
"Briar Woods has become like a rival with us," Daily said. "We know it will be a tough game. They know what we have, and we know what they have."
Prosser said the two teams are similar and both had rebuilding seasons last year. Both teams were playing their best football at the end of the season.
The Falcons upset Park View, which advanced to the Region II, Division 3 final, at the end of the regular season.
Prosser said he feels his team is ready for the season to start.
"I think the kids are really excited for the season to get here," he said. "We know Briar Woods is a good team, and they are vastly improved football team.
"I think the kids are ready and hopefully we can play well."