Anthonie Cooper
Senior quarterback Zareq Brown works out with the Tigers football team at Millennium High School. (West Valley View photo by Eric Newman)

The Millennium Tigers football team has produced four straight 4-6 seasons, underwhelming for a team that had consecutive winning records from 2007 to 2013. The team is on its third coach since 2013, and Lamar Early, who took the job last July, is in his first full offseason with the group.

However, with plenty of returning talent and a roster many dub its best, the team believes this is the year that run of losing seasons is broken.

Out at the crack of dawn, usually around 6:50 a.m. every weekday, Early has his kids working hard to hone in on the playbook, and the Tigers lift weights together most days afterward, cheering one another on as they increase strength and endurance.

“They know the expectations and I don’t have to say too much to them now,” Early said. “They know what kind of work they have to put in them, and it’s been rewarding to see that they’ve taken me in and taken the rest of the coaches in my first calendar year.”

The group saw some success in summer seven-on-seven tournaments, in which the quarterback has free range to throw to any player in the span of 4 seconds without a pass rush. That includes a June jaunt to ASU’s team camp and a quarterfinal appearance in San Diego. Though Early describes these competitions as “glorified flag football,” he said those successes have boosted the Tigers’ confidence.

“The seven-on-seven and big man camps are a lot of fun, and you just get to compete, even though there’s not much that really translates to the football field,” senior lineman Anthonie Cooper said.

Millennium’s returning players include its quarterback, running back, top receiver, several offensive linemen and seven of the 11 starters on the defense, all barring injury. The roster is peppered with seniors with one goal in mind: to reach the playoffs.

Quarterback Zareq Brown, who experienced AIA postseason play, said he and the other returning seniors are working hard to leave a lasting mark on the program.

“We have to build on what we did last year,” Brown said. “It wasn’t the most successful season last year, but the things that we did accomplish, we can just build on it and have a better season this year and go from there,” he said.

Early said that experience, paired with the work of the future captains, should lead to success come the season opener in August.

“I’ve had some guys really step up in that leadership role and put in the work,” Early said. “I have a few guys who haven’t even missed a day since November. You can tell their commitment, so it’s nice to see.”