Outlaws plan to deal out football justice

February 02, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Maryland Outlaws coach Bryan Milburn, with hat, meets with his prospective players during a tryout session at Keedysville's Taylor Park.
Photo courtesy of the Maryland Outlaws

“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.”Keanu Reeves as Shane Falco in “The Replacements”

Bryan Milburn knows the feeling.

If you have played football — really played football — it’s tough to get it out of your system. You want more of that “Game Day” high.

For Milburn, it comes from walking the sidelines. At 44, he has turned in his pads for a headset and gets his fix while coaching semipro football. And to make it even better, he now gets the chance to do that in his hometown.

“I gave up playing a while ago,” Milburn said. “Now, I live vicariously through the players.”

Milburn, a 1985 North Hagerstown graduate, will be leading the Maryland Outlaws, a spring minor league football team, when they begin play in their seventh season in the East Coast Football Association (ECFA) in March.

The Outlaws have moved to Hagerstown after spending their first six years in Frederick, Md., where they won the league championship four times. The organization has moved to Washington County, practicing at Taylor Park in Keedysville, and will call North Hagerstown’s Callas Stadium home for their third straight year.

“I didn’t think it was a bad idea,” said Milburn of coaching the Outlaws. “It was a chance to come back to town and coach a team without having to worry about financial things. My dad and my friends have always come to see me coach. This will give my dad — and my friends — a chance to see me coach at home.”

For Milburn, it will be a homecoming. He will be coaching at the school where he starred as a lineman. He’s returning to Hagerstown after coaching the line for the Baltimore Mariners, a now-defunct professional indoor football team that won the 2010 American Indoor Football Association title, and operating the Maryland Sting, a semipro team in the Baltimore-Harford County area.

“This is a good organization,” Milburn said. “We are trying to get out into the community. We are going to offer football clinics and we will have a cheerleading squad. We are playing in the community so we have to get out and get involved.”

Milburn will have added help with Baltimore-Maryland-Washington County ties as Mike Moyseenko will be helping with the Outlaws’ offense. Moyseenko graduated from South Hagerstown before becoming a walk-on quarterback at the University of Maryland. He was the offensive coordinator on the same Mariners coaching staff with Milburn, directing Baltimore to an undefeated season.

The 30-team ECFA becomes a natural next step for Milburn, but is a football player’s delight. Basketball and baseball players have a wide range of outlets to continue playing after the high school and/or college days are over. The league offers football players similar options.

“We are trying to get kids who were good out of high school, but weren’t physically ready to play in college,” Milburn said. “We have guys who are out of college who are trying to get looks at arena ball or the NFL.

“The league has good teams and some with the weekend warriors, who just want to play football and enjoy getting hurt. It’s football and we are trying to legitimize this level of play as minor league football.”

Players generally range from high school age to about 28. Despite the designation of “semipro,” the league doesn’t have high-priced contracts, so participation won’t hurt the amateur status for younger players.

“In the bylaws, not one gets paid,” Milburn said. “So it is truly an amateur league. There are some guys who are playing who were paid before, but not in this league.”

Players sign one-year contracts and are bound to the team for the season.

“Each team has their own guidelines,” Milburn said. “You get the bandwagon jumpers, but they can’t move until after the season.”

The league’s 30 teams are divided into two conferences — Northern, consisting of 12 teams, and Southern, consisting of 18 teams, including the Outlaws in the Central Division. The league features teams from New Jersey to the Carolinas.

The Outlaws will play a 10-game season — including five home games — with six teams from each conference advancing to the playoffs. The Outlaws will play their four Central Division foes twice and two other conference games.

The season opens on March 3. The Outlaws open at home on March 10 when they host the Virginia Saints.

The Outlaws were 6-4 last season, advancing to the playoffs before being eliminated in the conference semifinals.

The second goal of the Outlaws, next to winning a fifth title, is to create a bond with Washington County on many levels — including on the playing field.

“We have some good talent coming through here, but we need some more good players,” Milburn said. “We are getting away from trying to get talent from Baltimore. We are focusing on getting local talent, like players from Shepherd and Shippensburg. They might not go to the NFL but they could get looks from indoor teams. We are rebuilding and looking for real talent.”

The Outlaws have all but one ingredient.

“We need some notoriety in Hagerstown,” Milburn said. “We want fans to come out and see us play.”

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