It seemed like the Wilmington High football team was headed to overtime against Greensville on Friday.
That was until Ben Miller posted a 5-yard touchdown for the Greyhounds in the last 13 seconds of the game to secure the victory.
“I was excited. Honestly, when we called the play I had a feeling I would score,” Miller said. “We had a lot of success running that play early in the game. I had a feeling I would score so I was excited before and after the play.”
Miller’s run propelled Wilmington to a 14-7 District 10, Class 2A conference victory over Greensville. The junior also posted 119 rushing yards during the game.
“I give it to my line for sure,” Miller said on his total rushing yards for the game. “I just use my legs. They’re the ones in the trenches blocking for me. It’s great. I want to get more wins, I mean, it’s good to start with the first one but that’s all I got.”
For his efforts, Miller was named Lawrence County Athlete of the Week as voted on by the New Castle News sports staff.
“I think that Ben Miller had an outstanding game on Friday night. He scored the game-winning touchdown and while that was a special play it’s really all the things Ben did to get to that point that were so special,” Wilmington coach Brandon Phillian said. “It just seemed like all game long he just kept on grinding and kept on pounding. He did a great job carrying the ball, amassing 119 yards rushing. Not only does he do a great job when he’s running the ball, he also does a great job blocking. When his teammates are carrying the ball or in the passing game, he’s one of our best blockers. He’s physical, he’s relentless, had a great performance defensively and was one of our leaders in tackles that night.”
A son of Autumn and Bradley Miller, the junior fullback and linebacker talked about the strengths Wilmington (1-1 region, 1-1 overall) possesses.
“I think we have a great coaching staff. That game they called against Greenville was phenomenal,” Miller said. “Sweep was a great play and we used it when we needed to, especially on the last touchdown scoring play. Great coaching staff, solid line, we’re working on the line getting them improved.”
Phillian commented on what he thinks of Miller.
“To me, when you think of Ben Miller, if you looked up the definition of football player, to me it’s like Ben Miller’s picture would be there looking right back at me,” Phillian said. “He’s just a football player. He loves the game, he’s got a football IQ, he’s got a great attitude, he plays hard, he plays physical, he plays relentless. Really a guy that just does all the little things right.”
Miller commented about the communication on the offensive line.
“I think it’s fine,” Miller said. “I’m always listening to the line talk, talking to each other and letting each other know what’s going on. I think it’s great.”
The junior said the senior leadership is great and they lead by example and also mentioned the leadership from the juniors.
“A lot of the juniors like Buddah Book, for sure, he’s out there talking all game long,” Miller said. “Tuff (McConahy), the quarterback, he’s leading the team all over the place. We got good leaders.”
Miller also believes the younger players on the team are absorbing what the upperclassmen have to offer.
“I think we’re doing a good job. I think we’re relaying information to them very well,” Miller said. “Guys like Caleb Rossi and even freshman Collin Rolli, he’s doing a really good job in practice, he’s actually earning his way onto the first team defense.”
Leadership is the driving force to the Greyhounds’ success this season according to Miller.
“We played together for a long time and we got good leaders,” he said. “They’re carrying us the whole way.”
Miller commented about his favorite aspects of being a running back and linebacker.
“I like the vision portion of running back,” Miller said. “I like to make my cuts. I do a lot of cutting and linebacker I get to beat people up. That’s all a linebacker’s about.”
Phillian commented on what makes Miller special.
“I think Ben is an outstanding runner, I think he’s an outstanding blocker,” Phillian said. “He takes pride in doing both of those things. I think Ben goes just as hard on the plays when he doesn’t get the ball as the plays he does. That’s what makes him special. He’s very selfless, he’s very team-oriented. He puts the team first in all that he does. We’re very confident to hand him the ball at any time. He’s got outstanding vision, he’s got that ability to lower the shoulder and invite contact but he also has the quickness and the moves to make guys miss. He’s a special combination of speed and power.”
Phillian said the bigger the moment the better it is for Miller. He said he’s one of the players that rises to the occasion every time.
Miller praised coach Phillian.
“I love him. Coach Phillian’s like a father to me. We’re always communicating,” Miller said. “Last week, I was sick and he was checking on me. I definitely appreciated that. He’s a great man and a great coach.”
For Miller, the main focus for the team is the offensive line and everywhere defensively.
“I think we’re young offensively so our offensive line is getting coached up. We got great offensive line coaches for sure. I think that’s the main focus for our offense at least,” Miller said. “Defensively, everywhere, our defensive line and linebackers. Last year, our secondary needed improvement and we definitely improved in the secondary.”
Miller also plays baseball for Wilmington and is interested in taking his skills in that sport to the collegiate level. He’s currently looking at attending Slippery Rock, Seton Hill or Wingate University.
Miller has made an impact not only on Phillian but on the team as a whole.
“I would say one of things that whenever I watch Ben that makes him so special is just the way that he practices,” Phillian said. “It’s easy to come out on game night and go hard and go 100 percent, everybody does that on game night. What, to me, separates guys is what they do in practice. Ben’s effort is not just 100 percent every play on game night, it’s 100 percent every single rep at practice, it’s 100 percent physically, it’s 100 percent mentally. An area where he’s left an impact on me, and where I think he’s currently impacting our team, is the way he practices.”
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