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Saints count on Russ to lead team of iron men

September 05, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

SAINT JAMES -- New Saint James football coach Chris Milmoe has tabbed "Ironmen" as the theme to the upcoming season as many of the Saints players are being counted on for two-way play.

The main ironman on campus this year will be senior Mike Russ, who returns at quarterback and will find himself in a new defensive position that he is relishing.

The 6-foot, 210-pound senior will be the focus of the Saints offense as they run the spread attack under Milmoe. Russ will move from linebacker to free safety and he is ready to knock heads with the opposition.

"I'm excited about the new position," said Russ. "You get a different look at the field and can hit some people. If they come in my territory, I'm going to knock them flat."

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Russ is also enamored with the Saints' defensive scheme. Milmoe has incorporated a more new-school and creative look intertwined with various schemes.

Milmoe is excited having a player of Russ' ability in his inaugural season as head coach, replacing Chick Meehan.

"(Offensively) he will handle the playbook, run and passing the football," said Milmoe. "Defensively, he can come down after the ball. We need him to be our stud player.

"Can we survive without him being that type? Yes, we can. But we can't be a great team without him. We need him to beat the caliber of teams in the MAC."

Russ said the Saints have a goal of winning the Mid Atlantic Conference and thinks they are getting better every day in practice and could be a better team.

"We just have to keep on working and get better every day," said Russ, who also is a basketball standout for the Saints."

But it will also take the other iron men to solidify the Saints.

"When I first looked at the numbers, I thought of that theme," said Milmoe. "An ironman doesn't complain, doesn't put himself first and is mentally tough."

As much of an adjustment as it is for the Saint James players to work under a new coach, it's a new world for Milmoe, who came from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn.

"These kids here have been so well-coached in the past that it has helped in the transition," said Milmoe. "They're good kids. I've had a warm welcome. I wanted to accept the new challenge of being a head coach for the first time. Now, it's getting familiar with how the Saint James community works."

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