Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Salute to Myron Miller - A Great High School Coach

We glorify professional and college coaches. Let’s start with Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, and Clark Shaughnessy. Names like George “Papa Bear” Halas, Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, and Bill Walsh ring through the NFL eons. College greats include Knute Rockne, Ara Parseghian, Paul “Bear” Bryant, John McKay, Woody Hayes, Bud Wilkinson, Darrell Royal, Eddie Robinson, and Bobby Bowden. College stadiums, such as Tennessee’s Neyland stadium, are named for coaching greats.

But what about high school coaches? For example, who is the coach of Concord De la Salle? What about Massillon, Valdosta, or Long Beach Poly?

Myron Miller, currently at Tustin High, is one of the great, unsung high school coaches. The Tustin Tillers defeated El Toro of Lake Forest at Angel Stadium last Saturday, 35-28, to win their first California Interscholastic Federation Title (Southern California) since 1948. Tustin has been in the finals 3 of the past 4 years.

The victory was typical Miller power football. Tustin went five for five on 4th down, including twice in the last 5 minutes, even when deep within their own territory. His view is simple – if they can’t get 2 yards on 4th and 2, then they don’t deserve to win.

Myron Miller has been coaching for 42 years, 17 at Tustin. The Tillers have been league champions 9 times in these 17 years, and also in the CIF semi-finals 9 times.

What’s amazing is how Myron Miller does it. Last Saturday’s game was typical – 8 yards passing and 334 yards running. Myron is Old School, really old school. Forget about anything as modern as the T Formation, much less the Wishbone, Pro Set, Power I, or Spread. I screamed out to my wife in 1997 when we went to a Tillers game: “That’s the double wing!’

He plays the double wing, which is so ancient that teams do not know how to defend it. It’s a power running offense that eats up the clock. His style is vintage Lombardi. His teams depend upon conditioning and execution to win.

His players are in excellent condition; he believes in a rigorous weight lifting regime. His exercise regime is so tough that when games begin in early September, he has less than 30 players on the team, often less than 2 dozen. Many players have to play both ways.

The great championship game in 1997 featured the Tillers, behind running back DeShaun Foster against Carson Palmer’s Santa Margarita, which seemingly had more coaches than Tustin had players. Foster ran for 378 yards and 6 touchdowns while Carson passed for 413 yards. Santa Margarita prevailed 55-42. Carson Palmer won the Heisman at USC and is still in the pros.

Many of Miller’s graduates have played at higher levels. Six were in the NFL in 2008: Sam Baker with the Atlanta Falcons, Beau Bell with Cleveland, Chris Chester with Baltimore, DeShaun Foster with the 49ers, Matt McCoy at Tampa Bay, and Frostee Rucker with Cincinnati. Another running back, Anthony Wilkerson, currently plays for Stanford.

Here’s to Myron Miller – a champion

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