Vermilion Valley Conference football preview: Milford/Cissna Park
MILFORD — Nate Albaugh found an advantage not available to many first-year coaches. The Milford/Cissna Park football coach already knew some of his squad members before they came to a practice.
Seniors Jake McCann, Travis McKay and Aaron Virklan were line starters for the Bearcats in 2009, when MCP was 8-2 and qualified for the playoffs. Albaugh was the head coach that fall.
He left last year, for Alton, but had an economical reason for returning.
“Our house never sold,” he said. “That’s what led to it all. And, I was happy here.”
Now, he’s happy to be back and, especially, to see some familiar faces.
He can pencil McCann in at center, McKay at guard and Virklan at tackle. They’ll be joined upfront by two other seniors. Brandon Davis will man the other tackle position and Logan Edris will be at the other guard.
It’s an impressive group as Albaugh starts the first year of his second stint with Milford/Cissna Park.
“With all of the questions behind them — we’re young at the skill positions — they are the reason we feel there is hope to be competitive. They are fantastic to work with and have a desire to succeed.”
McCann, McKay and Virklan are not only offensive catalysts, but they will be anchors on the defensive line, along with junior Brandon Schroeder.
Elsewhere, there are more questions than answers. Injuries and disciplinary issues will keep MCP from being full strength until Week 4.
Look for senior Eron Marquez to be a prominent ballcarrier. Others who will get their turns are senior Zac Ellrick, junior Josh Linder and junior Alex Rabe, along with freshman Jake Rogers. Marquez was the team’s top rusher last fall with 458 yards. Rabe was the team-leader in pass receptions with seven.
Sophomore Josh Marquez will be the early-season starter at quarterback.
The strength in the line afforded Albaugh the opportunity coaches don’t often get. He was able to relocate a lineman elsewhere.
“We moved Max McCabe (senior) to tight end,” Albaugh said. “That’s every lineman’s dream.”
Sophomore Tyson Rogers is another tight end prospect.
Defensively, Eron Marquez, Linder and sophomore Ryley Ward are the leading linebackers. Marquez was third on the team in tackling last season with 45 stops.
Cousins Jake and Tyson Rogers will be in the secondary, as will Josh Marquez.
“It’s a lot of the same kids, but because we’re young, there are some new faces,” Albaugh said.
The kicking game could also feature a youthful performer. Freshman Ben Jennings is one of the top candidates.
Joining him on the coaching staff are Clint Schwartz — last year’s head coach — Michael Franey and J.D. Jennings.
MCP, which finished 1-8 last year, opens the season on Friday at home at 7 p.m. against East Central.
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