The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
During the past four seasons under head coach Romeo Pellum, the Millikan Rams have made gradual, yet significant progress as a football program. The Rams have established themselves as the clear No. 2 team in the Moore League, while moving up in division and earning a playoff win last year in the CIF-SS Division 4 bracket.
The talent coming through the Millikan High campus the past half-decade is some of the best the school’s ever produced, with an ongoing streak of four straight seasons with a Power 5 recruit. Now in year five under Pellum, the Rams will look to continue making progress as a program, with higher aspirations than ever.
“It’s about us coming together as a team,” said Pellum of this year’s group. “We lost a good amount of guys, and we have some new faces. On paper, you would think that we look good, but on paper and on the field are two different things. If we’re not playing as a team and as one, then it’s gonna be a long season.”
The Rams will once again be led by an All-American talent in Ryan Pellum. The recent USC commit is a game-changer at wide receiver, defensive back, and as a return specialist, and this will be a legacy season for his tenure at Millikan. He’s been “the guy” since he first stepped on campus, and this is his final opportunity to build on his career resume with the Rams.
“I’m looking forward to ending the journey, it’s a love-hate to see it coming to an end,” said Pellum as he looks ahead to his final high school season. “I’m glad that I’ve grown and have gotten to be coached by my brother for so long. As a team, the goal is always to go big or go home. We want to see ourselves grow the connection with the new guys we have and the old guys we have, and we want to go farther than we ever have before.”
Millikan’s calling card in the Pellum era has been the offense, and the Rams attack will look different in 2023 with a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback. Dave Pierson takes over as the OC, with 6-foot-2 junior JP Mialovski (a transfer from St. John Bosco) stepping in as QB1.
“JP is a great kid,” said Pierson of the junior signal-caller. “He's a very coachable kid, he's got a great head on him, very polite, well-mannered and a great kid to be around. The second part is he's got a very good arm and he understands what we're trying to accomplish on offense. Everything that we do is going to go through him, and that’s the job of the quarterback, you have to accept that responsibility.”
In addition to Pellum’s elite speed and playmaking on the outside, Millikan has a revamped receiving corps with transfers Loyall Mouzon and Jude Nelson expected to see a lot of playing time, along with returning wideout Charlie Broughton, who was a reliable contributor last season.
Kyle Parker is back at Millikan and will help the Rams at running back and defensive back, but offensively, Long Beach Poly transfer Xavier Jones should be the featured rusher. What the 5-foot-7 junior lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and elusiveness. He showed that last season when he ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns for the Jackrabbits at DeHaven Stadium.
The offensive line is experienced, with upperclassmen across the board. The core of Alex Romero, Chase Dawson, Mason Scott and Jesse Wishon took most of the snaps in 2022, and tackle Ryder McGuire was bumped up to starter for the final few weeks of last season. The ability to compete at the line of scrimmage will be a major key for the Rams as they strive to take down higher division programs.
“The sky's the limit for them,” said Pierson of his offense. “But it always boils down to fundamentals–blocking, tackling, and execution. So our guys being at the right place at the right time, and our quarterback being on time with the football and delivering it. There is a lot of potential, but potential just means you haven't done it yet. So we have a lot to prove.”
The defensive front should be the biggest and deepest front seven of the Pellum era, which should help improve a defense that’s been susceptible to the run in recent seasons. Four-year starter Ethaniah Steffany is back, leading a number of Division 1 recruits on the Rams defense. Junior Terrell Dolberry has great size at the defensive tackle spot, and incoming edge rushers Edmari Binion (Colorado State commit) and Greg McClendon give the Rams some legit playmakers on the D-Line.
The linebacking core is very experienced with returning starters Riley Tuggle and Matt Robinson back in the heart of the defense. Fellow senior Jayden Rapp is also part of that group with good size and the ability to lay the lumber across the middle.
The defensive backs will feature a core of two-way players with Mouzon, Parker, and Pellum staying on the field for defense. They’ll be joined by returning senior Ricky Cherry as the last line of defense.
Senior Jayden Icasiano will once again handle the kicking duties for Millikan, giving the Rams a reliable weapon for extra points and field goals.
The Rams aren’t taking it easy to start the season–they’re headed out to Honolulu to take on Hawaiian powerhouse Punahou on Aug. 18. Given the travel and quality of opponent, that could be Millikan’s toughest test of the year, and a great barometer out of the gate.
The rest of their non-league slate should be challenging as well, and there’s no cupcakes in the preseason. The Rams have their first home game against Cathedral on Aug. 25 and also host Upland in an intriguing matchup on Sept. 8.
This is by no means a make or break season for Millikan, but expectations continue to grow year after year, and the target also keeps getting bigger every time the Rams take the field. But Coach Pellum isn’t hiding this program from the spotlight, and he’s got a lofty vision for Millikan’s future.
“Going into year five, I think we're finally in the place where we need to be off the football field,” Coach Pellum explained. “And even at practice, everyone knows the expectation, and we are respected now in California. Obviously we're not where we want to be or where we need to be right now. But my son is going to the sixth grade, so three years from now when he comes to high school, I expect Milliken to be the school and a powerhouse in California.”
The562 will be out in Hawai’i to cover the Rams’ season opener against Punahou, so be sure to come back for all the coverage from Honolulu!
QB - JP Mialovski (Jr.)
RB - Xavier Jones (Jr.) / Kyle Parker (Sr.)
WR - Ryan Pellum (Sr.) / Loyall Mouzon (Sr.) / Jude Nelson (So.) / Charlie Broughton (Sr.)
TE - Greg McClendon (Sr.)
LT - Alex Romero (Sr.)
LG - Chase Dawson (Jr.) / Kade Hegedus (Jr.)
C - Mason Scott (Sr.)
RG - Jesse Wishon (Jr.)
RT - Ryder McGuire (Sr.)
K - Jayden Icasiano (Sr.)
DE - Ethaniah Steffany (Sr.) / Ed’Mari Binion (Sr.) / Greg McClendon (Sr.) / Obed Dubon (Jr.)
DT - Terrell Dolberry (Jr.) / Chase Dawson (Jr.)
LB - Riley Tuggle (Sr.) / Matt Robinson (Sr.) / Jayden Rapp (Sr.)
CB - Loyall Mouzon (Sr.) / Kyle Parker (Sr.) / Jordan Birks (Jr.)
S - Ricky Cherry (Sr.) / Ryan Pellum (Sr.) / Ethan “EJ” Enriquez (So.)
P - Jackson Harney (Sr.)
2023 Millikan Rams Football Schedule
8/18 - at Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
8/25 - vs. Cathedral
9/1 - at St. Francis
9/8 - vs. Upland
9/15 - vs. Wilson
9/22 - at Jordan
9/29 - at Long Beach Poly (at Vets Stadium)
10/6 - vs. Lakewood
10/13 - at Compton
10/20 - BYE
10/27 - vs. Cabrillo