Head Coach E.J. Mills
Head coach and defensive coordinator E.J. Mills took the Amherst helm in 1997, succeeding current Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki after four years as a Lord Jeff assistant. Five seasons and 31 wins later, Mills has restored the tradition-rich Amherst football program as a perennial powerhouse and is widely recognized as one of the top head coaches and defensive minds in the NESCAC and all of NCAA Division III.
As an interim coach in his inaugural season, Mills quickly shook the interim tag with a stellar 7-1 record, an unofficial conference championship and part ownership of the coveted Little Three title. His two ensuing seasons produced consecutive 5-3 marks, before a breakout 2000 campaign produced another 7-1 record, a three-way share of the NESCAC crown, and the Jeffs' first outright Little Three Championship in 14 years. 2001 brought similar success, as Amherst finished 7-1 for the second consecutive year and came perilously close to registering the college's first undefeated campaign since 1984, were it not for a dramatic overtime loss at Williams in the season finale.
Aside from the combined acumen of an accomplished and venerable coaching staff, Mills' greatest asset could be his prowess as a defensive coordinator. Under his tutelage, 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, including a lopsided 38-0 triumph in his head coaching debut. 1998 brought even more gaudy statistics, including a whopping 35 sacks for a total loss of 220 yards, while the 1999 Jeffs surrendered just 11.0 points per game with 63 tackles for loss. In 2000, Mills' squad led the NESCAC and finished fifth in the nation in scoring defense (8.8 pts./gm.) with a trio of shutouts to its credit. 2001 brought three more shutouts, as Amherst tied a 21-year old NCAA record by not allowing a passing touchdown all season long, led the nation in scoring defense (6.1 ppg) and finished seventh in pass efficiency defense (77.2 ypg). The Jeffs were also 10th in the nation in total defense (239.4 ypg), 26th in rushing defense (97.5 ypg) and had 12 players earn All-NESCAC honors, including seven on defense.
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 and assistant softball coach at NESCAC rival Trinity College. They had their first child, J.B., in the spring of 2002.
Career Coaching Record - Amherst College (five seasons, 31-9 overall)