Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maverick's Opponent Speaks Out

Beaver time

Miller yearns for 2nd ring

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Michael Miller started his football career as a state champion. He’d like to end it the same way.

“It feels wonderful, I give the honor to God for giving us this opportunity,” Miller said. “We won it my freshmen year and I’ve still got the ring for it.

“Thank God we won our freshman year, and I wouldn’t mind going out my senior year with a bang and another ring.”

Miller will get that chance on Friday night when Bluefield (12-0) plays James Monroe (12-1) for the Class AA state title in Wheeling. The Beavers will be looking for their ninth championship since 1959, while the Mavericks are playing for their first.

“It feels real good, but we have a good challenge against us,” said the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Miller, a starter on the offensive and defensive lines for the Beavers. “James Monroe is a real good team, they’re disciplined.

“We beat them in the regular season, but now we’ve got to beat them where it counts in the state championship. I think it will be a real good game for us.”

Miller was part of the 2004 Bluefield squad that finished 14-0, crushing Wayne 69-24 in the finals. That team is often compared to the ‘97 club that also went 14-0 and won a state title.

Miller, who didn’t play football until he was a freshman, has heard all about those teams. He would like the current batch of Beavers to be mentioned in the same sentence as those.

“When I came up here to Bluefield, I knew what football was, but I didn’t really know what football was until I came to Bluefield High School and it means a lot,” Miller said. “I’ve met Charlie Tynes and the great players that have played here at Bluefield High School and they tell me stories about the ‘97 team that won, and the 2004 team won.

“It feels great to be in the same position they were.”

Bluefield head coach Fred Simon said this team is similar to those clubs in one respect.

“They reflect a lot of the ‘04 team and the ‘97 team as well,” Simon said. “You’ve got to have good leadership to have a chance and these players have definitely been good leaders.

“Overall, I’ve been very, very pleased with their leadership.”

Miller has seen the good and bad in Wheeling. As a sophomore, Miller was part of a team that reached the finals, only to lose to 40-0 to Weir. Last season, the Beavers were beaten by Tolsia in the quarterfinals, stopping a string of four straight trips to the title game.

“I’ve been twice since I’ve been up here, this is my third time,” Miller said. “Last year we didn’t get to go, and it was a real emotional moment for the whole team, but we rebuilt ourselves for another year.

“All the weight-lifting, all the training that we did, it was all worth it. We have another chance to win that state title and we’re going to take it.”

There are no secrets between Bluefield and James Monroe. Located just 43 miles apart, the teams play every year. It was no different this season, with the Beavers winning at Mitchell Stadium 14-7 on Oct. 26.

James Monroe actually moved the ball well against Bluefield, but struggled getting the ball in the end zone.

“They had good points in that game, they ran the ball real well,” Miller said. “They have real good backs in Tincher, Kisiel and Robertson.

“They have a real good line. It’s going to be a real good game for us, it will be a real good game for both teams.”

Defensively, Miller knows the key will be containing the Mavericks’ single wing offense and three talented backs, led by Taylor Robertson, Nick Kisiel and Ernie Tincher, a trio that have combined for run for nearly 3,700 yards and 50 touchdowns.

However, Miller knows the key is the offensive line, which has helped the Mavericks run for 330.2 yards per game.

“They’re pretty good, they’re probably one of the biggest challenges we face as a defensive line throughout the season,” Miller said. “I think we’ll be ready for them.

“Coach Simon has been getting us prepared for them all week and all season long for this moment to come and I think we’re ready for it.”

While offensive lines rarely receive many accolades, Miller has heard all the talk about how good the James Monroe interior line is. The Beavers aren’t bad either. Bluefield has averaged 355.5 yards per game, and scored 34.6 points a contest, and none of that could have been done without Miller, Joe Stone, Justin Shrader and the cousin duo of Brandon and Chris Harris.

“We’ve been opening holes for Shaun Brooks, he’s a good running back, we open up holes for him and he does the rest, he takes it to the end zone,” Miller said. “We give protection for our quarterback Will Cole, he throws the ball real well and scores touchdowns for us and we usually wind up winning the games.”

Miller has the prescription for what the Beavers need to do to bring home the school’s first state title since 2004.

“We have to stay focused, get our mind set, and make sure we wrap up on defense,” Miller said. “We have to block real well, run the ball real well and I think we’ll be able to take it home.”

Miller has been a key cog for the Beavers on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Miller — nicknamed ‘Moose’ — has recorded 41.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and has also forced a fumble and recovered a loose pigskin.

“He’s a real good kid, Michael has definitely improved each year that he has been with us,” Simon said. “He has good size, he’s got good speed for a big man, a very good kid to coach.

“All these seniors, you can kind of look at them down the line, they always listen and try and that is a big key is coaching. Are you listening to us and trying? If you are, you’ve got a chance.”

Those haven’t been problem for the 16 Bluefield seniors.

“I’ve been playing with this senior group since my freshman year,” Miller said. “As the years have gone, the wins and losses, we have come together like brothers.

“We love each other, we know how each other plays our games, we know how each other thinks and it feels good to play with a senior defensive line.

“Eight players out of our whole offense and (eight on) defense are seniors so it will be a good feeling if all of us can win another championship.”

Miller has one ring. He’d like to have one more.

“It would be a great way to go out for my senior year,” Miller said. “To be the last game that I ever play in my high school career, I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”


The Bluefield Daily Telegraph
928 Bluefield Ave,
Bluefield, West Virginia


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