Being the little brother and having expectations placed on you as a player just because of your last name is no easy task.
There’s nobody better to ask about that than Ashland High senior Myles Montgomery.
Before Myles, there was Max.
Before Max, there was Mason.
Put it all together and for the better part of the past decade, there has been at least one Montgomery brother donning an Ashland football jersey, and usually playing pretty darn well in it.
But the biggest thing for the youngest Montgomery brother from the first practice of his freshman season until now is to not be Mason or Max. Rather, just try to be Myles.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Myles said, “and right when I came in here, everyone’s going ‘Are you going to be as good as your brother?’ The first day of practice everyone’s saying that. It was good because it pushed me and made me drive to work harder in the offseason and be the best that I could be. But also I think I’m a mixture of both — not as brute force as Mason, not as speedy as Max, just kind of in between. I feel like it’s a good mixture.”
Ashland’s regular-season home finale tonight against North Eugene could mark the final time that Myles runs out of the tunnel at Walter A. Phillips Field. While the possibility of another home game is dependent on where the Grizzlies finish in the Midwestern League’s South Division, tonight is his senior night.
And with it comes a whole wave of thoughts for a player who has been on the varsity level ever since the middle of his freshman season.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Myles, who will likely be sporting a cast on his left arm after breaking a bone in his hand in practice. “I’ve got so many memories with my brothers watching them play, watching guys before them. Some of my greatest memories in my life are on this field and I really want to cherish the moment and have the best game that I’ve ever had (against North Eugene).”
Myles, like Mason, is the quarterback of Ashland’s defense at the middle linebacker spot.
And as has been the case for the last handful of seasons, Myles has also been a mainstay on the Ashland offensive line, playing both ways in two very different kinds of positions on the field.
It’s always been like that, though.
A running back in his youth football days, the transition to the offensive line became almost inevitable as he got older ... and bigger ... and stronger.
Like older brother Mason — who played his final two years of college ball at NCAA Division I-AA Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — the constant for Myles, now listed at 6-foot and 216 pounds, has always been being a linebacker.
And as he showed in Ashland’s homecoming game against Crater last Friday night where he recorded a whopping 13 tackles, he’s got a nose for the ball.
“Myles is the type of kid that really makes coaching fun because he has a lot of ability and you can tinker with things,” Ashland head coach Beau Lehnerz said. “Having a player with the ability and the football intelligence that he has and his brothers had, you get really creative as a defensive coordinator.”
Myles has seen it all during his four-year career with the Grizzlies.
He’s been a part of an Ashland team that made the Class 5A state title game as a freshman in 2015 under then-head coach Charlie Hall, recording four tackles in that 45-28 loss to Summit.
He’s now a leader on a team that has undergone both a head coaching transition and a noticeable youth movement over the last two years.
“I feel like my freshman year was almost the peak of the Coach Hall era. It was his most successful season and some of the athletes we had on that team were just insane,” Myles said. “Going from my freshman year to 2-7 my junior year last year, it’s a huge change and really makes you appreciate the good teams and the good moments you have and it really proves that hard work pays off. I feel like we’ve gotten that back this year — everybody works way harder in the offseason. We had to learn that wins aren’t given to you and you have to earn them.”
As one of the Grizzlies’ seven-player senior class this season, the leadership role that Myles has had to take on is an obvious one.
The Grizzlies’ roster is filled with sophomores and juniors, but there are only so many seniors to help set a tone for such a young team.
“I feel like it’s really pushed me this year,” Myles says of taking on a bigger leadership role. “I definitely worked the hardest I ever have this past offseason, and I feel like it’s pushed me to be more of a vocal leader and not just leading by example. It’s really hard to sometimes have that pressure on you, but if you ever feel like you’re slacking and you see somebody else is following you, then you really have to pick it up because you don’t want it to be a trend that you’re the slacker and everyone else follows.”
While his football future beyond high school is still a bit of an unknown right now, Myles knows that he wants it o be a part of his college life.
He joked that he might need to put some of Mason’s contacts to good use.
No matter what, though, just because he won’t be wearing the No. 52 in Ashland colors in a few weeks, that doesn’t mean what he’s experienced with the Grizzlies won’t last beyond his playing days.
After all, it’s been a football program he’s been around for as long as he can remember.
“Growing up and watching (my brothers), I was the water boy for a little bit when I was in fifth or sixth grade,” Myles said. “Seeing the guys, those were the guys I wanted to be like. Now that I’m in this position, I know that little kids look up to me and doing the Grizz camp and all that really made it to where I’m in the position where my brothers were at now.”
Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.