Fountain Valley's Milner to Coach El Toro Football

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Milner, one of the most successful football coaches in Orange County over the past 12 years at Fountain Valley High School, Thursday was named coach at El Toro.

Milner, 44, said he would continue teaching at Fountain Valley and begin working with El Toro's football team next week. He begins teaching science and physical education at El Toro in September.

Milner follows another highly successful coach and longtime friend, Bob Johnson, who resigned in December. Johnson was 119-45 in 13 seasons at El Toro.

After a five-week screening process, Milner's selection was announced by El Toro principal Don Martin. But the announcement was hardly a surprise.

Milner, who initially denied he had applied for the position, was the leading candidate among four finalists that included La Quinta Coach Roger Takahashi and El Toro assistants Bill Whipple and Marty Spalding.

"This is a pretty emotional decision for me after investing nearly half my life (19 years) helping to build a premier program at Fountain Valley," Milner said. "I've worked with some great kids and some great coaches at Fountain Valley. But I felt at this point in my life, it was time for a change.

"El Toro is one of the premier jobs in Southern California and a great opportunity for me. I'm leaving behind some great memories at Fountain Valley, but the change will be good for me."

Milner was named Fountain Valley's head coach in 1979 after six years there as an assistant under Bruce Pickford. During the next 10 years, Fountain Valley won five Sunset League titles and played in three Southern Section championship games.

Fountain Valley won the Division I championship in 1988 at Anaheim Stadium, defeating Bishop Amat, 31-24. The Barons were also defeated in two title games, losing to rival Edison, 14-0, in 1980 and to Fontana, 21-0, in 1987.

But Fountain Valley won only three games in the past two seasons as dwindling enrollment reduced one of the county's top programs.

Milner, who had a 77-63-2 record in 12 years, won his final game of the 1990 season but realized hard times were ahead at Fountain Valley.

Milner inherits a quality program. El Toro qualified for the playoffs 13 consecutive years and won six league and three section titles under Johnson. Johnson resigned to watch his sons, Bret and Rob, compete in college.

Milner's selection comes during anticipated budget cuts throughout the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and possible teacher layoffs at El Toro High.

Martin insisted that Milner was the best man for the job.

"Budget cuts were a concern, but our school board and superintendent repeatedly told me to hire the best man for the job," Martin said. "I don't know what the reaction at school will be, but I think our faculty understands the certain teaching positions carry added weight, such as a band director or coach."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
55°