Vizakis Selected as Milford High's Football Coach
Jul 28, 2017 06:00AM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey
Bellingham native Anthony Vizakis, Milford High football coach
Bellingham native Anthony Vizakis is Milford High’s new head football coach. The 31-year-old Vizakis has an impressive background as a player and as assistant coach, but he’ll be the first to admit that his passion for athletics, and football specifically, stems from his early days in Bellingham when he played youth sports.
“I played Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and youth basketball in Bellingham,” Vizakis, pictured right, said. “I remember playing for excellent coaches, and, from grades one to eight, I had great teachers — at both Macy School and the Junior-Senior High. Bellingham prepared me for the future. The instructors and the coaches all cared and that was important.”
As an eighth-grader, Vizakis started as a linebacker and fullback on Bellingham High’s freshman team. He sometimes got the nod as a freshman to play on the jayvee squad. Vizakis remembers Dan Haddad, now Bellingham High’s varsity football coach, as a key mentor in developing his love for the game. “Coach Haddad and many others at the youth level ignited my passion and energy for athletics,” he said.
When Vizakis, a history major at Bridgewater State, was working as a substitute teacher, he enjoyed the days when he was assigned to Bellingham. “I often filled in at the high school and the middle school,” he said. “It was nice to return to where I started school.”
Vizakis was an all-star linebacker at Bishop Feehan, where he played on three Super Bowl championship squads. He helped the Shamrocks compile a 44-2 record before he graduated in 2004.
At Feehan (located in Attleboro), the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Vizakis had a dynamic career. Physical and hard-nosed, he started at linebacker as a sophomore and was also a fullback his final two years. A captain, he led the Shamrocks in tackles as a senior (12 per game) and was chosen as an Eastern Athletic Conference all-star.
An honor-roll student, Vizakis started at linebacker for two seasons at Bridgewater, leading the squad in tackles as a junior and senior. He was a captain and an all-star as a senior. “We won the Division 3 ECAC title my junior year,” he recalled.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2008, Vizakis worked on a master’s in instructional technology, getting that degree in 2012. After teaching and coaching posts at Durfee and Holliston, he joined the faculty at Franklin, where’s he’s been teaching at the Horace Mann Middle School for the last four years. At Franklin, he was the football team’s offensive coordinator.
“Last year, I joined coach Joe Todd’s staff at Milford and was the team’s assistant head coach,” Vizakis said. “I also was the girls outdoor track coach.”
Last month, Milford decided to replace Todd after four years and a 22-22 record. Athletic Director Peter Boucher announced that Vizakis would be the Scarlet Hawks’ interim coach. “I’m preparing every day as the school’s head coach, and I’m pleased to have the support of the athletic director and the community,” Vizakis said. “I appreciate what Joe did for the program and the opportunity he provided me. I wish him the best.”
Vizakis will be conducting his first pre-season camp as a head coach this month and is eager to get started. His style and his goals reveal a lot about what lies ahead for Milford.
“I’ll stress discipline and structure but at the end of the day I’ll be in my players’ corner,” he emphasized. “We’ll feature a hybrid offense and a physical defense. We’ll run and we’ll air it out if needed. My immediate goals are to be better than the previous day, for our kids to fulfill their roles and play with passion, and to focus vigorously on the task at hand.”
Milford, which had a 6-5 record last year, competes in the Hockomock League, a circuit Vizakis rates as “one of the toughest in the state.” He’s confident the Scarlet Hawks will hold their own. “We’ll be competitive in every game,” he noted. “We have a talented and tough senior class and we have a good crop of sophomores and juniors.”
Vizakis no doubt will rely on the knowledge and wisdom of his previous coaches. He’s quick to laud Todd Kiley at Holliston, Taunton High’s Brad Sidwell, whom he worked for at Franklin, and Robb McCoy and Jack Peavey, coaches he played for at Feehan. “They all displayed passion and intensity and were very inspiring,” Vizakis said.
Calling his parents, Debbie and John, role models for their support and encouragement, Vizakis, whose sister Carissa was an MVP at Bellingham in field hockey, relied as a player on a competitive philosophy that focused on winning. “You play to win and, if you win, then you’re having fun,” he said; “and winning makes you work to reach your potential.”
As a head coach now, Vizakis is acutely aware that his role is more involved. “Winning is important, but as a head coach it’s also about developing young men to be a success not only on the field, but also in the classroom and in the community,” he emphasized. “That’s crucial to a student-athlete’s future, and it’s also imperative that life lessons be learned through athletics. Being accountable, learning to lead, overcoming adversity and working as a team are just a few lessons that sports teach.”
Anthony Vizakis has achieved his objective to be a head football coach. What’s admirable is the credit he gives his hometown. He knows his roots and he’s never forgotten the importance of his early years in Bellingham.