Rob Hunt: Belated and deserved congratulations for Lapel's Miller

Jan. 12—In a world of self-promoting coaches always willing to point out how great they are, it's nice to be able to recognize a guy like Lapel football coach Tim Miller.

He certainly would never pound his chest to seek acknowledgement of his own accomplishments.

Last October, during his team's run to a sectional championship, Miller won games 68, 69 and 70 in his career which made him the winningest football coach in program history.

He passed Woody Fields, who coached the Bulldogs from 1982-2002, earning a 68-136 record along the way.

Miller has built a strong tradition of winning and set the new bar in half the time with a record of 70-58.

It is an accomplishment he probably did not envision at the dawn of his time in Lapel, when he was roaming the hallways recruiting kids to join the team just so he had enough players to fill the roster.

He won just two games that first year and three in his second season before the Bulldogs broke through with the first of his four sectional championships in 2014. That team finished 6-7, and he did not enjoy his first winning campaign until 2016 with an 8-4 mark and has not been under .500 since.

It's not hard to see why.

From those modest beginnings, Miller has built a football powerhouse at a predominantly basketball-loving school. From barely having enough players to field a team, his rosters now annually boast 60 to 80 players, enough to make some Class 4A schools envious.

What makes this even better is Miller is one of the really good guys in coaching anywhere.

His program has churned out a string of exciting skill position players like the late Joe Hart, Will Jones, Dawson Phillips, Josiah Scott, Tanner Mroz, Cole Alexander, Tyler Dollar, Nick Witte and many, many more.

But after a game, whenever questions are asked about the great games those players have, he is always quick to credit the offensive line for opening holes for the running backs and protecting the passer.

In keeping with his "player's coach" persona, he always defends his athletes as well. On the rare bad night, he will take the blame for a three-interception game by his quarterback, saying he called the wrong play, sent in an incorrect player group or misread the situation he put the players in.

He may have done the best coaching job of his career this season.

His team had to deal with a rash of injuries — including to Dollar — as well as a midseason quarterback change and an always tough regular season schedule and finished 7-6 after the regional loss at Linton-Stockton.

He never pointed out his record-breaking performance or took credit for the success his team had this season, always pointing out it was the kids who overcame the adversity to succeed.

The achievement went unreported at the time, largely because Miller did not want anyone to know or to fuss over what he had done.

Those who shared this milestone know Miller doesn't want the recognition and fear retribution for going to the press. In fact, he'll probably give me a side-eyed glance the next time he sees me just for writing this.

Well, Tim, I'll never reveal my sources. Even when it comes late, positive recognition is the price you pay for being one of the really good guys in coaching in this area.

Or in any area.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.