After being the defensive coordinator under now-Jacksonville coach Clint Smith since 2005, the transition wasn’t a hard one for the new coach to make, even though he is now coaching the basketball and football teams.
“To be honest with you, it wasn’t really a whole lot of extra work,” Miller said. “I was already involved a lot with football. I’ve always kind of had to manage both of those teams. I don’t know if I was really expecting any difficulties, but it was definitely a smooth transition.”
Taking over the football team several months before spring practice started showed throughout the Wildcats’ season, starting with a 34-14 loss to Wellborn. After the loss, however, things started clicking for Saks.
“We had a lot of guys that were playing roles that they really weren’t accustomed to,” Miller said. “It just took a little bit for those guys to get comfortable in their new roles and for some expanded roles.”
Once comfortable, the Wildcats won six consecutive games, including Alexandria and five region teams, despite also having the challenge of players being injured.
“Any time you go through a football season, there are going to be injuries,” he said. “Just like anyone else, I think that at no point were we at full strength.
“You just have to count on the next guy to step up and fill that role.”
Overcoming opponents and injuries, Miller’s Wildcats had a date with Piedmont on Oct. 19 for the region title.
However, the top-ranked team won the game, 41-6. Finishing second in the region, Saks fell to Sylvania in the first round of the playoffs.
But with a successful first season under his belt and basketball season now well under way, Miller sees a bright future at Saks under his reign.
“We just have to continue on our progression,” he said. “We had a lot of guys that we were counting on this year that have to get better and improve, get bigger, faster and stronger, and they did that. We just need those guys to make another jump and keep improving and not be satisfied.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.