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Joe Milligan takes over as Norristown football coach

The sport of football has taken Joe Milligan to different parts of the country and the world.

Now, he’s going to bring his football knowledge back home.

Norristown Area High School made Milligan its new head coach last month.

He graduated from Norristown Area High School in 1996 before playing collegiately at Fairfield University.

“It’s always special when someone gets a chance to coach in a place where they were born and raised,” he said. “My alma mater — to come back, that’s always special. I don’t care who you are or what you say. For someone to actually do that and come back — it’s definitely a different, special feeling.”

“Coach Milligan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program,” Norristown Athletic Director Anthony Palladino said. “He has been a player and coach at both the high school and collegiate ranks and we are excited for his return to the Norristown program.”

Milligan wants to build upon what came before him and make something even bigger.

“Here’s my motto,” Milligan said. “We’re looking to be basically a Norristown 2.0. A lot of alumni, a lot of people keep talking about Roosevelt, Roosevelt. That’s fine and dandy, but I’m trying to get the kids to actually learn to earn the right to win and to be Norristown 2.0 — be a bigger and better Norristown than what we were and start setting new traditions, new standards and new history up at the new stadium. That’s our new home.”

Helping him create this environment will be his defensive coordinator Rodchine Lusane.

“We’re very good friends,” Milligan said. “We work in the school district, we’re alumni and we used to coach here. We said this might be a chance for us to go back and run the program a little differently and bring back some Norristown pride.”

After a successful playing career at Norristown that included a 9-1 season, Milligan was a four-year starting receiver at Fairfield and played professionally for one year in the Arena Football League for the Dayton Skyhawks and one year in Sweden.

Milligan coached receivers and defensive backs at a number of different places, including Mount Ida College, Fairfield, Norristown Area High School under EJ Smith and Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

On the field, Milligan wants to have a well-conditioned team and won’t force his players to play any certain style.

“You’ll find out that we will be in shape,” he said. “That’s the number one rule — we’ll make sure that we always out-work our opponent. As far as smash mouth or run-and-shoot — if I don’t have the pieces to be a run-and-shoot or the pieces to be a smash mouth team, then there is no use in actually being that. I like to live by the philosophy that the system has to fit the players that I have, not make the players fit my system.”

Milligan is tasked with turning around a team that went 4-7 last season.

“Always have a winning season,” he said of his goals. “Eventually try to make it to the playoffs. Those are definitely team goals. Always have that goal of trying to go to a state title. Realistically I know we’re way behind that component — not to say that it couldn’t happen, but we set baby steps to make sure we get to the right things and make sure that this program is successful. Not just trying to make it a short-term fix, trying to make it a long-term fix here.”

Milligan previously taught at Coatesville Area Senior High School and currently teaches in the Norristown Area School District at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy.

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