Football: New coach Hannah eager to help Miller Grove take next step

New Miller Grove coach Lee Hannah wants to take the solid football program that already exists and take it to the next level.

The Wolverines have fielded a competitive team for years, always hovering around the .500 mark. The team has made the playoffs each of the last two seasons, but were eliminated in the first round both times.

Now Hannah wants to put the program in a position to take things to the next level -- as soon as possible.

“They’ve had good teams in the past, the track program is phenomenal, the basketball team has won seven state championships,” Hannah said. “I asked the kids the other day, how can you have the same kids year-in and year-out and you haven’t won a playoff game. They were like, ‘Dang, coach, that’s a good question.’ They’re buying into it. This is a process.”

Last year’s team went 5-6 and lost to Jackson in the first round of the playoffs. The program has never won more than six games.

“We’ve got a great nucleus coming back,” Hannah said. “Coach Justin Larmond did a great job righting the ship. I’m trying the turn the page and continue where he left off. There’s a great nucleus, a senior-laden team. They’re buying in. They want to be successful.”

Hannah was an assistant coach last season at Flowery Branch and helped the Falcons go 9-3 and reach the second round of the playoffs. He was the head coach at Baldwin from 2014-16 and the Braves went 15-18, making the playoffs twice and reaching the second round once. He’s also been at Sandy Creek, Mary Persons, M.L. King, Duluth and Mays.

Hannah gets to Miller Grove three times a week to check on workouts. He’s emphasizing his five core principles: character, discipline, respect, accountability and grades.

“My three goals for this season are to win a region championship, host a playoff game and win a playoff game,” Hannah said. “It’s never been done at that school, even with all the talent they’ve had.”

Hannah plans to run the spread offense. “We’re going to spread the ball around and make teams cover the entire field,” he said. “The defense has been pretty stout. The offense has been a bit stagnant in the past.”

To fix that problem, Hannah has hired Martin Fredrick, the offensive coordinator from Mays. Fredrick’s teams sored 485 points in 2017 and 505 points in 2016, winning the region title and reaching the state quarterfinals both times.

“He’ll bring the same attitude and mindset,” Hannah said.

Miller Grove has numerous prospects, most of them on the defensive side. The top name is Aaron Miller, a 6-2, 220-pound defensive end who already has offers from Morgan State and Buffalo. Last year Miller Grove’s Caleb Tanner signed with Nebraska.

The Wolverines will start spring practice on April 30 and will have a spring game on May 11th against an undetermined opponent.

“Probably a controlled scrimmage to give us some looks, to see what we’re working with and get the kids excited about playing football and doing it the right way,” Hannah said.