There’s a different kind of energy surrounding the Milton High School football team this season.
The Red Hawks have finished 3-6 in three consecutive seasons and have not had a winning year since 2015, but 2019 has brought with it change, and hope.
Rodney Wedig, who enters his first year as the Red Hawk head coach in 2019, may be a newbie to Milton, but he certainly doesn’t lack experience.
Wedig holds a 147-107 career record over a span of 25 years. Most notably he coached at Big Foot, where he helped the Chiefs go 103-26 from 2003-2013. He also helped Big Foot capture a state championship during his tenure.
“It’s honestly a new culture,” senior safety Jordan Stivarius said. “A lot more people are buying in. I think a lot of us feel more confident even going into week one. It’s going to be a lot different than the last three years.”
“We’re more confident for sure,” senior running back Jerry Jones said. “It’s just a different feel.”
It may feel like a different feel because, well, things are different.
Both the offense and defense will enter transition years. The offense will transform into a true spread offense and will key in on the running game.
“This year I feel like with the new play calling, offensive coordination, I think we’ll have an explosive offense this season,” senior wide receiver Dane Nelson said.
The Red Hawk offense averaged 17.4 points per game last season.
“I think our offense will fit for any game style right now,” Jones added. “Even if we’re in a dogfight, our offense is made for it, but if we need to score really quick our offense can also do that.”
On the defense, Milton will look to transition its base defense to a 3-4, which will be a new look from last year.
The 2019 campaign might also feel a bit different from previous years because the Red Hawks finally feel like they have the experience to compete in the Badger South
“We got a lot of leaders on the team, whether they’re starters or not starters,” Stivarius said.
Milton returns 21 letter winners, 17 of which are seniors.
“You have a lot of people to look up to,” Nelson said. “Most of the seniors have been here all four years.”
Not only have most of the seniors been in the program since freshman year, but this year’s senior class feels like the chemistry is there.
“A lot of us have been together since first grade,” Jones said. “The bond is there.”
The changes in Milton have the Red Hawks changing their outlook on the conference.
Monona Grove comes into 2019 as the reigning Badger South champions, going a perfect 9-0 last season in conference.
However, this year, the Red Hawks feel like they can hang with the Silver Eagles and the other top dogs in the conference.
“Last year there would be times we would go into a week against a team like, oh boy, we’re playing Monona Grove,” Jones said. “This year it’s like, we can’t wait to practice for another team and scout against another team because we have that confidence.”
“Ever since Wedig got here he’s preached beating Monona Grove, Stoughton, all those teams that are top of the conference,” Stivarius added.
The seniors don’t want to bank on their hoped success in 2019 and leave the program unchanged. Instead, they’re hoping to build up the Red Hawks from the ground up.
“We want to set the groundwork for the years to come,” Nelson said.
“It’s going to be a good season,” Jones said. “Definitely different than the last three.”