A familiar face will be taking over the Hoquiam High School football program when the Grizzlies begin Spring football in 31 days. Longtime Hoquiam assistant coach Jeremy McMillan will be swapping in the assistant title and taking the reigns for the Grizzlies.
McMillan, a 1995 Hoquiam graduate, began running the Hoquiam youth football program 12 years ago and has been a paid assistant with the Grizzlies since 2007. He was the assistant head coach for the last two years under Rick Moore, who retired earlier this year.
“It is exciting,” McMillan said. “I have big shoes to fill. I think it is going to be a lot of fun and I just want to continue what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years.”
While the self-professed “football nerd,” was a linebacker in high school, a position he also played during a stint with the semi-pro Washington Cavaliers, McMillan has gravitated to the offensive side of the ball during his coaching career and has been the offensive coordinator for the Grizzlies each of the last four seasons. McMillan said he believed his dedication to the program was the biggest factor in helping to separate him from other candidates, but that his education from past Hoquiam head coaches will help him to continue the level of success the program has enjoyed.
The education from the other coaches included lessons on Xs and Os from Todd Hoiness, lessons on mentoring and team building from Jason Ronquillo and lessons on organization and preparation from Moore.
“I tried to take the best from each of them and I’m just proud to carry that on,” McMillan said. “My relationships that I build with the players is one of the things that I’ve always hung my hat on. I’ve watched those kids come in at five and six year olds and go through the whole process until they are at the high school.”
Along with hoping to continue the success that past coaches have had in wins and loses, McMillan said he hopes to make academic success a part of his program and also bring a C-squad program back to Hoquiam.
McMillan plans to work as the offensive coordinator for now, continuing to run his hybrid West Coast spread offense, while looking for another assistant to take over the defensive coordinator position, which Moore held. His preparation for the position has included retaining assistant coaches Ed Dawson, Tracy Pelan, Cameron Parker and Eric Dixon. However, his preparation certainly doesn’t end there. He has every date memorized from 49 days until they head to team camp to 109 days until Hoquiam’s first two-a-day practice to 126 days until the Grizzlies opener at Chehalis.
“I think the biggest challenge is making sure we continue the tradition we have while putting my stamp on it,” McMillan said. “Just trying to not do too much that first year. Building on it one step at a time and going through that process. Your effort with persevere through a lot of adversity. I earned where I am right now and I think that shows the kids that if they work hard enough at something they really want that they can achieve it.