Coach Tom Lake speaks with enthusiasm and uses colorful metaphors when talking about his Cumberland Regional High School football team.

“Players emerge like a flash storm.”

“Linemen may not be able to win swimsuit competitions but they’re powerhouses.”

“Some players have smiles like choir boys off the field but have a country mean streak on it.”

Lake’s words are understandable. This is a group worth getting excited about.

The Colts return several veterans from last season’s 4-6 team that won two of its last three games.

“We’ve had a very focused preseason,” Lake said. “The guys came in in very good condition. They realize last year there were a couple of games that we let it get away. They know what we have to do to close the gap.”

De’Hahn Milledge emerged as one of the region’s best backs last season, rushing for 961 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He has a new-found maturity,” Lake said. “He knows what his potential is. He knows football can make a big difference in his life going forward.”

Senior quarterback Steve Garron has played varsity since he was a freshman.

He completed 52-of-97 passes for 731 yards last season.

“He’s underrated,” Lake said of Garron. “He doesn’t get the big numbers that some other quarterbacks get, but he manages our offense, moves the chains and he plays selflessly. When I need more out of him, he’s prepared to do it.”

Cumberland’s top receiver also returns in tight end Gabe Hemighaus, who caught 17 passes for 213 yards.

Monmouth University has offered Hemighaus, who also plays defensive end, a scholarship.

Senior Jacob Paul leads a young offensive and defensive line that does have some experience. Several linemen played as freshmen last season.

“They’ve put their time in the weight room,” Lake said. ‘They’re doing everything to prepare their bodies for what we hope is a very long haul over the season.”

Lake doesn’t talk about winning a specific number of games, but the Colts clearly want to be a playoff team this season.

“I think our potential is very high,” Lake said. “There’s never a reason not to be optimistic. You can’t control the size, speed and experience of your opponent, but you can go into the game knowing you did everything to prepare.”

Contact Michael McGarry:

609-272-7185