Gallery: Milano [8 Images] Click any image to expand.
Even in the early days, Central Catholic football coach Chuck Adamopoulos knew he had
something special in Mike Milano.
Just a 15-year-old sophomore when he took over the reigns of the Central Catholic offense,
Milano, a Tewksbury native, immediately earned the respect of his teammates with his
confident style of leadership.
"He was just a sophomore, first year as a (varsity) starter, and we had a team full of
seniors, and all of our offensive linemen were seniors, and some of them were pretty big
boys," Adamopoulos recalls. "But he (Milano) had this little thing, right from the
beginning, where he'd go down the line and tap each of them on the shoulder in the huddle
before they started each drive. It was just a little thing, a little bit of encouragement
for his teammates. But it wasn't something you'd expect out of a kid so young. It kind of
gave me the impression that this kid was going to be a real leader for us."
Adamopoulos' instincts were dead accurate, as Milano led Central to a 9-2 record as a
sophomore, followed by an 11-1 record and a Division 1 state championship as a junior. He
remains the unquestioned leader of the Central Catholic football team as the defending
Super Bowl champs, now 7-1 after eliminating rival Andover, 28-21, in the first round of
the MIAA play-offs last Friday, embark on a quest to defend their state title this fall.
This weekend will mark the greatest challenge of the year to date for Milano and his
teammates, as they try to avenge their only loss of 2014 when they take on St. John's Prep
in the MIAA Division 1 North semi-finals, Saturday afternoon in Danvers. On Sept. 20th,
St. John's held Milano and the normally unstoppable Central attack to it's lowest
offensive output of the season as CCHS lost, 27-12.
But regardless of Saturday's outcome, history will undoubtedly treat Milano as one of the
most successful quarterbacks in the storied history of Central Catholic High School
football. One of only three players to start at quarterback for three straight years in
Adamopoulos' 30-plus years as a football coach, Milano has led his team to a
combined 27-4 record, two Merrimack Valley Conference championships and one Division 1
state title in his three years at the Raider helm.
As a sophomore, Milano led Central to an 8-1 record heading into his team's annual
Thanksgiving Day showdown with Andover, but lost a 22-19 heartbreaker to the Golden
Warriors that day. As a junior, Milano not only avenged the 2012 Thanksgiving Day loss to
Andover by beating the Golden Warriors twice last fall, but he also led Central on an
impressive romp through the newly-formatted MIAA play-offs, and steered the team to an
eye-popping 34-17 win over perennial powerhoue Everett High School in the Division 1 state
Milano passed for 1226 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for four more TDs as a
sophomore, but he was just getting started. As a junior, he won all-scholastic honors when
he threw for 1810 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for over 700 yards and 14
So far this fall, Milano has rushed for 994 yards and 11 touchdowns while passing for 1012
yards and another 10 touchdowns. He will almost certainly eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing
mark on Saturday against St. John's, which will rank him among the most prolific runners
and passers in Massachusetts high school football, with 1,000 yards on the ground and through the air in the same season.
Central runs a spread offense known as the "Read Option," which requires the quarterback
to make instantaneous decisions, after the snap of the ball, as to whether to run with the
ball, pas the ball or hand the ball off to a running back.
It is Milano's ability to make those decisions quickly and accurately, under pressure, that
sets him apart from those who came before him at Central, according to Adamopoulos.
"We ask our quarterback to make a lot of decisions as the play is going on, and he really
has to put a lot of time into getting ready for that. He's really handled that well," Adamopoulos said. "We're in one of the top leagues in Massachusetts and we reached the top of the mountain last year, so to play at that level like he has, it's really remarkable."
Milano is the first to admit that running the Read Option wasn't easy in the early years.
"It's not something you pick up right away," he said. "It's something that takes a lot of
time and preparation.
"But I think one of the big reasons (the coaches) did a lot of work with me my freshman
year was to get me ready for the upcoming years," Milano added. "My freshman year we
repped it a ton and I still wasn't perfect with it so my sophomore year we repped it a
ton. I'd say last year I got the hang of it to where it was just second nature, where you
just see it right away and make the play."
Adamopoulos marvels at Milano's progress.
"Just to see how far he's progressed mentally from his sophomore to his senior year is
impressive," Adamopoulos said. "Really, what he did as a junior.. that was really impressive."
Clearly, Milano would like to punctuate a remarkable career with another state
championship this fall.
"Our first goal was to win the MVC, and now our goal is simple. We just want to keep
winning every week," Milano said. "Of course we want to win another (state championship),
but at this point, it's one-and-done, so we just have to concentrate on this week's
Whether or not that approach results in back-to-back Super Bowl titles, Adamopoulos is
certain that history will treat Milano as one of the best ever at Central.
"He's right up there with the top four or five kids who will always stick out in my mind,"
Adamopoulos said. "His numbers are really impressive, but more than that it's his ability
to make big plays when we really need them. I think it's a combination of his physical
abilities and his character make-up, his competitiveness. He's a super competitor and he
really wants to succeed."
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