Seminole coach Chris Miller climbed atop a ladder, his head on a swivel as he watched his first and second-team units alternate plays.
“I’ve never been able to do this before,” Miller said. “I never had enough players at Admiral Farragut to run two teams.”
Miller, who coached the Blue Jackets eight years, was hired by Seminole in May. He replaced Sam Roper, who retired from teaching and coaching after 28 years with the Warhawks.
“It’s a little weird to be at a different school and conducting practice with another team,” said Miller, whose only other head coaching experience was at AFA. “But I couldn’t be more excited about it. This is a great group of guys that I have here.”
Upon his arrival, Miller changed the design on the helmets. He changed the offense from the wing-T to the spread. He had players show up for throwing sessions and participate in 7-on-7 tournaments. He plans to hold a scrimmage Aug. 16 at the Seminole youth league to build a relationship within the community.
But Monday Miller conducted his first official practice with his new team.
“The biggest thing we have to do is prepare to compete,” Miller said. “These guys had not had a lot of 7-on-7 or anything else in the summer. Their first real competition was their preseason game. I wanted to give them a couple more opportunities in a competitive setting before we got to that point.”
It has been years since Seminole has been competitive. The program won a combined 16 games the past eight seasons. Miller saw enough in the program to want to turn things around.
The players have bought into the changes. Miller said he has about 70 players out for practice and that number could exceed 90 once all the freshmen are enrolled.
“I haven’t been this excited for a season to start since I started playing in high school,” running back Ra’Quanne Dickens said. “The coaches have been great. They’re really prepared, and we’re learning a lot. I’m expecting big things.”
But as much as Miller wants to create new history, he also is trying to remember the past. In the regular-season opener, Miller said the team will honor Roper with a framed jersey.
“I want to make sure I have a great relationship with Sam,” Miller said. “He put in a lot of time here and did a lot of good things. I wanted to make sure we honor that.”