He’s been a brother, a father, a role model and the perfect guy to emulate when it came to building a prep football program.
“I’ve seen the difference he has made, not only as a coach, but as a person,” Mike Miller said.
Miller is speaking of his oldest brother, Kevin. These are great times for the Miller boys, whose teams have advanced to the second round of the state playoffs in their respective classes.
Lone Tree (9-1) is at BGM (8-2) in a Class A second-rounder tonight. Solon (9-1) hosts LaPorte City Union (8-2) in 3A, as it continues its quest toward a fifth consecutive state championship.
“I certainly pay a lot of attention to what Lone Tree is doing,” Kevin Miller said. “I’m very, very proud of my brother and the manner he went about developing his program.”
Mike was an assistant coach for Kevin at Solon before taking over Lone Tree (at age 23) in 2006. Kevin Miller also coached at Lone Tree.
They are 12 years apart in age (Kevin 41, Mike 29), the oldest and youngest of five Miller brothers originally from Solon. Curt Miller is an assistant for Kevin, the only other brother in coaching.
Mike and Kevin are close, obviously, but maybe not in the typical sibling way. Their father, Maury, passed away from cancer when Mike was 7 and Kevin a sophomore in college.
Kevin, in particular, assumed the lead male role in his youngest brother’s life.
“Michael essentially grew up without a father figure,” Kevin said. “So I think me and my other brothers really took him under our wing.”
“He is my brother and mentor,” Mike said.
On the field, the two say they have a lot of the same defensive philosophies, though they’re about as polar opposite as you can get offensively.
Solon uses a spread offense to take advantage of a group of athletic skill players. Lone Tree employs the triple option, like you see Georgia Tech use collegiately.
“That was something where we saw what kind of younger kids we had coming up,” Mike Miller said. “We went to William Penn University one summer and sat with them, learning the intricacies of it. We’re still learning about it.”
It’s basically a deal where whatever works, and these particular offenses are working. Then again, this is probably about the coaching a whole lot more.
Miller time always has been winning time.
“I always keep an eye on him,” Mike said of his brother. “Always open up the paper and see how they’re doing. If we both win (Monday night), I’ll definitely be there cheering them on next Monday.”
And Kevin will definitely be wherever Lone Tree plays Friday night.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said. “There’s just something about Mike. People gravitate toward him because of the way he conducts himself. He wants to be a difference maker in young people’s lives.”
You could say that about both of them.