The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
In the span of three years, the Millikan football program has graduated its career touchdown leader (Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell), followed by consecutive Pac-12 recruits in WR Ezavier Staples (UCLA) and CB Tacario Davis (Arizona). On its own, that would be an impressive run for the Rams, who have not made a habit of churning out high-level football recruits in the past few decades.
But not only is the cupboard not bare in 2022, the shelves are more stocked than ever. Fourth-year head coach Romeo Pellum has steadily increased both the size and talent level of Millikan’s roster during his tenure, and the needle is still pointing upward for the Rams. A year ago, the Rams offered a worthy challenge to Poly and finished second in the Moore League. They ended up as the No. 16 seed in the Division 6 bracket, and dropped a heartbreaker in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs.
This season, with so much of that roster returning, Millikan has a compelling mix of talent and experience that could push the Rams to new heights. There’s already a dozen players on the roster with scholarship offers, and the confidence and cohesion that comes from varsity snaps could create some real synergy.
“I think it’s our experience,” said Pellum on what sets this year’s group apart. “I think literally everyone played varsity football last year, on both sides of the ball, so going into a season that has to be huge to get snaps on Fridays the previous year. Knowing that these guys have been there before, and so many guys played in a playoff game, that’s huge for us.”
The Rams bring back the reigning Moore League Player of the Year, junior dynamo Ryan Pellum. The younger Pellum will be a contributor at wide receiver, corner, and on special teams, and will no doubt be a focus of every opponent’s scouting report. He’s been lauded (and heavily recruited) for his speed and elusiveness, but he’s spent the offseason working on his frame to add some size and strength.
“I’ve been in the weight room and I’ve been on the track, too, just trying to get faster and get stronger,” said the younger Pellum, who scored a team-high 12 touchdowns in 2021. “I definitely feel faster on my routes and with the ball in my hand. And when defenders try to reroute me, I can feel myself stronger and more stern.”
He agrees that experience and chemistry could be a key to a successful season for the Rams this fall.
“We’re coming together as a team, as a family. trying to bond, so we’re going to have a good season,” Ryan Pellum said. “Over the years we see each other’s game, so we know how to play with each other.”
The wide receiver group is extremely talented around Pellum, with seniors Angelo Miranda and Matt Martinez plus junior Jordan Anderson, a transfer from Warren High. All four of the Millikan wideouts will play college football, and they have the chance to put up big numbers this season.
The main beneficiary of all those weapons is junior QB Myles Jackson, who got his first varsity experience last season, throwing for over 2,600 yards and 32 touchdowns. He’s got upwards of 20 scholarship offers from schools across the country, and could continue to blossom into a top QB recruit on the west coast.
Los Al transfer Nygel Osborne will slide in as the starting running back and the senior has already fit in nicely with the Rams’ attack. He’s got a handful of D1 scholarship offers as well.
An area of emphasis for Millikan has been on the line of scrimmage, where the Rams have one of the largest offensive lines they’ve had in recent memory. The group is experienced, with all five having varsity experience, but the group is also relatively young with just one senior. That’s right tackle Ty Atterberry, who has gotten a ton of playing time on both sides of the ball in his career.
“I feel good that it’s all coming together,” Atterberry said. “That’s what we’ve been needing is a line, and we’re all coming along great, getting to know each other and having a great experience … We all recognize that it’s the line first then everything else. If the receivers can’t get the ball, it’s no point, so we’ve got to give Myles time to do what he’s got to do.”
Even with such an explosive offense, the Rams are not content with just trying to outscore opponents. The hope is that the defense will be able to hold its own and not put as much pressure on the other side of the ball to put up points.
Many of the skill position guys will play both ways, with Anderson, Miranda, and Pellum set to adorn the defensive secondary. They’ll be joined by seniors Jaden Hunt and Ryan Chester, both with D1 offers and plenty of experience.
Three-year starter Riley Tuggle is back starting at linebacker, along with Serra transfer Matt Robinson, who is highly regarded going into his junior season and has already turned heads with his new teammates.
Junior Ethaniah Steffany is another D1 product who leads a deeper defensive front. Senior Max Fatu adds great size, and the Rams will be able to rotate through names like Travis Lloyd, Craig Gordon, Chase Dawson, and others.
Special teams should also be improved for Millikan with senior punter Daniel Arroyo back, along with junior placekicker Jayden Icasiano. His field goal range extends beyond 50 yards in practice, which could make him a difference maker in close games.
Now in year four of the Romeo Pellum era, the time could be now for the Rams to do something special on the field. With each passing season, the connection between the coaching staff and the players has improved, and–at least on paper–this looks to be Millikan’s most talented, experienced, and cohesive group.
“Thinking back to year one, most of these guys have been with me the entire time. To think of where we are now and where we were, I mean, it’s huge,” Coach Pellum said. “I came with the vision, and it’s who’s gonna buy in, and most of the guys did that. That’s why we are where we are now. It’s not just me, it’s all my coaches, and the kids do a great job. So … we’re getting there.”
The Rams open the season next Thursday at Santa Ana, then have consecutive home games against Cathedral and CIF-SS Division 4 runners-up, St. Francis. Millikan closes the non-league schedule with an out-of-state trip to face Sunrise Mountain in Peoria, Ariz. on Sept. 10.
Millikan’s two most important league games come back-to-back as they host defending champions Poly on Sept. 30 before visiting Lakewood for a rivalry showdown on Oct. 7.
8/18 - at Santa Ana (Thursday)
8/26 - vs. Cathedral
9/2 - vs. St. Francis
9/10 - at Sunrise Mountain (Saturday - Peoria, Ariz.)
9/16 - at Wilson
9/23 - vs. Jordan
9/30 - vs. Long Beach Poly
10/7 - at Lakewood
10/14 - vs. Compton
10/21 - BYE
10/28 - at Cabrillo
QB - Myles Jackson (Jr.)
RB - Nygel Osborne (Sr.)
WR - Jordan Anderson (Jr.)
WR - Ryan Pellum (Jr.)
WR - Matt Martinez (Sr.)
WR - Angelo Miranda (Sr.)
LT - Alex Romero (Jr.)
LG - Lake Dawson (Jr.)
C - Mason Scott (Jr,)
RG - Jessie Wishon (So,)
RT - Ty Atterberry (Sr.)
K - Jayden Icasiano (Jr.)
DE - Ethaniah Steffany (Jr.)
DE - Max Fatu (Sr.)
DE - Travis Lloyd (Sr.)
DT - Craig Gordon (Sr.)
DT - Chase Dawson (So,)
LB - Riley Tuggle (Jr.)
LB - Matthew Robinson (Jr.)
Nickel - Ryan Chester (Sr.) / Ricky Cherry (Jr.)
CB - Jordan Anderson (Jr.)
CB - Ryan Pellum (Jr.)
S - Jaden Hunt (Sr.)
S - Angelo Miranda (Sr.)
P - Daniel Arroyo (Sr.)