Head Coach E.J. Mills
E.J. Mills came to Amherst in 1993 and served as a defensive coordinator through the 1996 season. Working with former Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki, Mills helped the Lord Jeffs improve their record in each of his four years as an assistant until the team nearly pulled off an undefeated season in 1996. When Siedlecki made his move to lead the Bulldogs, Mills was named the interim head coach for the 1997 season and has been at the helm ever since.
Entering his 18th season on the Amherst sidelines and 14th as head coach, Mills has been a part of 94 victories for the Purple and White. The Lord Jeffs have posted a 7-1 record three times and shared a NESCAC title twice under Mills, with the 2001 season marking the team’s first Little Three outright title in 14 years. Two years later Amherst ruined Williams’ perfect season by snapping the Ephs’ 15-game winning streak, and in 2004 the Jeffs once again claimed the Little Three crown outright.
Mills broke through in 2009 by leading Amherst to its first perfect season since 1984, marking the program's first win over Williams since 2004, its first win on the Ephs' home field since 1985 and its first outright NESCAC title. The postseason awards poured in for Mills, who was named the American Football Coaches Association Division III Region 1 Coach of the Year, Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Division II/III New England Head Coach of the Year and D3football.com East Region Coach of the Year. Mills was also the unanimous choice for the NESCAC's top coaching honor.
While leading the Jeffs to a 74-30 record as head coach, Mills has witnessed several of the region’s best football players come through Amherst. Under Mills’ reign the program has produced two NESCAC Offensive Players of the Year and three Defensive Players of the Year. Eleven Amherst players have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for excellence in the classroom and on the playing field, with two also being named Academic All-Americans. Notably, defensive lineman Devin Moriarty ’98 was selected by the American Football Coaches Association as a Division III All-American in addition to being named the ECAC Player of the Year. Brian Daoust ’01 and Pat McGee ’02 were also named All-Americans, while Fletcher Ladd ’05—the school’s all-time leading rusher—was the 2004 ECAC Northeast Player of the Year. In 2009, Fred Argir '10 became the program's first player named to the D3football.com All-America Team.
In addition to coaching countless All-NESCAC and ECAC All-Star selections, Mills has coached some of the country’s finest student-athletes and citizens. Most notably is former defensive back Paul Whiting ’04, who in 2003 was the first ever non-Division I winner of the CSTV National Student-Athlete of the Week honor. In 2002 he was given the DeOrmand “Tuss” McLaughry Award as an outstanding scholar-athlete in Western Massachusetts. Whiting was also named the 2004 Woody Hayes National Scholar-Athlete of the Year for displaying excellence in academics, athletics and community service.
The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston has recognized several of Mills’ former players. In 1997 Rich Willard ’98—Amherst’s all-time leading passer—earned the Joe Zabilski Award as the most outstanding Division II/III offensive player in New England. In 2004 Ladd took home the Nils V. “Swede” Nelson Award for outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, sportsmanship and citizenship, an award that was also earned by Dan Guariglia ’08 three years later.
Although Mills focuses on the development of his student-athletes more than he does statistics and records, the numbers cannot be overlooked. Under his tutelage as a defensive coordinator, the 1996 Lord Jeffs led the nation in scoring defense, allowing a miniscule 8.4 points per game. The following year, Mills engineered shutouts in three of Amherst’s first four outings. In 2000, Mills’ squad finished fifth in the nation in scoring defense (8.8 pts/gm.) with a trio of shutouts to its credit. Three more shutouts came in 2001, as Amherst tied a 21-year old NCAA record by not allowing a single passing touchdown. Two years later Amherst tied a conference record with four shutout victories. In 2009, the Lord Jeffs led Division III in rushing defense (50.9 ypg) and finished third in scoring defense (10.4 ppg).
Mills is a graduate of the University of Dayton, where he was a standout baseball player before earning a degree in history and secondary education in 1988. He began coaching at Midlakes High School in Clifton Springs, N.Y., before a two-year stint mentoring the defensive secondary at the University of Albany. Immediately preceding his tenure at Amherst, Mills served as the defensive coordinator at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.
Mills is married to the former Angela Povoli, who graduated from Amherst in 1995 and currently serves as the head volleyball coach at nearby Smith College. They have two young sons, J.B. and Nate.
E.J. Mills' Career Coaching Record
(14 seasons, 88-32 overall)