ESCANABA -Football season ended some time ago, yet it is still making big headlines in the area.
Josh Mileski's appointment as Gladstone High School's coach Tuesday followed a recent meeting to discuss possible changes on the prep playing level.
Mileski is taking the reins from his dad, long-time Gladstone coach John Mileski. After a three-year stint in his second tenure at the helm, John is stepping back to serve as an assistant.
Dennis Grall, sports editor
It is the second time in the past few months where an area father-coach stepped aside for his son. U.P. Sports Hall of Fame basketball coach Paul Polfus did that at Carney-Nadeau, taking over the jayvees as Jacob became varsity boys coach.
Although Josh Mileski is young, the 1998 Gladstone High School grad is confident of a seamless transition. "I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I have full confidence in what I have learned over the years from my dad and other coaches," he said.
"The staff we have at Gladstone, we have a group of guys that are really willing to put in the time and effort to make this a (strong) program. The major thing we got last year was a commitment from the kids in the offseason."
That was critical because the Braves installed a spread offense, something Josh Mileski liked after picking it up while assisting in Midland. He lobbied his dad to make the change, which was not fully implemented until the third game.
With quarterback Kyle Jensen directing the show, Gladstone went 9-3 and reached the Division 5 regional. "I really believed in this offense," said Josh of the prodding he did to convince his dad and fellow assistant Casey Young it was time to change for the long-term benefit of the overall program.
That allowed his dad to go out in style, a point Josh made when he said "he deserved to end it the right way," referring not just to the on-field success but also to "a group of kids that was a special group."
John Mileski also expects the switch to work. "It won't be a major change for the kids. They will be real comfortable," he said. "They (the young coaches) relate to them better."
Returning to football three years ago, after a self-imposed five-year sabbatical, seemed to rejuvenate John Mileski. "When I gave it up I probably didn't give it up for the right reasons. I felt at the time they were the right reasons," he said.
Mileski left in 2001 after 17 years because "the passion was not there to be successful," he said at the time. He was in his fifth year as an assistant principal, a position he still holds.
Meanwhile, area Class D schools are exploring the possibility of fielding eight-man teams in the near future. Two meetings have already discussed the plan, and a third is Jan. 29.
With shrinking enrollments and tough economic times, going the eight-man route may end up saving football at some small schools.
Mid Peninsula last fall entered into a co-op plan with Rapid River, which also has a similar deal with Big Bay de Noc.
It would not be a surprise to see the Eastern U.P. go the eight-man route, which could also lead area schools to make the leap.