Wesco 3A player to watch: Josiah Miller, Oak Harbor

For the opposition, Josiah Miller is one of the scariest players in the area. On Oak Harbor’s 2010 squad that finished 6-4 and a game out of the Wesco 3A playoffs, Miller did the majority of the damage.

The 5-foot-9 and 155-pound senior (he says 155, his coach says 165) garnered first team All-Wesco honors on offense, defense and as a kick returner. It’s a feat that he hopes to duplicate in 2011, and possibly add all-state honors.

“He’s kind of a do-everything type of kid for us,” fourth-year Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said. “We don’t take him off the field. He’s an outstanding running back with a lot of speed. He’s also our best defensive back and one of our best tacklers. We’ll play games with him on defense and sometimes bring him up as a linebacker or keep him back as a defensive back. He’s a great cover kid. He’s the best returner that we’ve ever had here.”

A year ago he led the team with five kick returns for touchdowns, Turner said. If Oak Harbor reaches its goal of a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, it likely will be on the shoulders of Miller.

Wesco football preview

South
• Mariner running back KeiVarae Russell is ‘the total package’
• Q&A with Mariner offensive linemen
• Player to watch: Sam Brown, Jackson quarterback
• Team capsules and games to watch

North
• Player to watch: Bo Brummel, Arlington tight end
• Teams at a glance and games to watch

3A
• At Marysville Getchell, coach returns to his roots
• Player to watch: Josiah Miller, Oak Harbor
• Teams at a glance and games to watch

[Click here for the Cascade Conference preview.]

“He’s a weapon wherever he’s at and we are going to put him on the field all game and try (to) give him the ball as much as possible,” Turner said.

Speed kills
Miller is a smart and versatile player, but what really sets him apart is his speed. In addition to running through tacklers, Miller runs track during the spring. Last year he posted the state’s ninth-fastest time of the year at the 3A level in the 100-meter dash (10.96 seconds). He also took home the sixth-place medal at the 3A state championships last May. Miller says he is the fastest on the football team by far, having run 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but junior RB Isiah Trower will also turn some heads of Wildcats fans.

“We’ve got good speed,” Miller said.

Raw speed only gets a team so far when defenders are flying around the field, which is why Turner thinks Miller is special.

“He’s got great instincts,” Turner said. “He’s got a great feel for where defenders are at. He’s got quickness and juke-ability but the instincts are what really separates him. He’s good at anticipating where guys are going to be and making guys miss.”

Ultimate competitor
Some of the best athletes are physically gifted, but not necessarily competitive, Miller possesses great physical gifts but also the competitive fire burns deep within.

“He’s one of the more competitive guys that I’ve ever dealt with,” Turner said. “He cannot stand to lose and that’s a great quality. He will give everything he can. Winning and losing is a big deal to him more than even stats. If he only got 20 yards rushing, but we won the game, he is as happy or happier than if he had 200 yards rushing. He wants to win really badly.”

Miller’s competitive fire doesn’t just apply to track and football. Like most teenage boys he plays his share of Xbox, but what may surprise some is that he actually prefers card games such as Phase 10, Poker or Uno, which he enjoys with friends. Miller admits that he may hate losing more than he likes winning. “I don’t like losing no matter what it is, so yeah it does get pretty competitive.”

The next level
Miller has received recruiting attention from a handful of FCS and NCAA Division II schools for football and several Division I schools for track and field. After an uneven freshman year in academics Miller has turned his studies around and has his sights set on playing a sport in college.

“I’ve turned my stuff around so academics are much more important to me now,” said Miller.

He hopes to be a physical therapist or a sports trainer. “I always want to be in the sports business.” he said.

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