Prpe Football: West punter Miller to Methodist
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan has become such a football powerhouse that 10 of last season’s Falcons will get opportunities to play in college.
Even the ones who aren’t the household names.
Senior punter Kelly Miller joined the list of future college Falcons when Division III Methodist gave him a chance.
You must understand that the West Rowan punter is usually a no-name. You don’t win three straight state titles and 46 straight games by calling on the punter very often. Miller even admitted as much.
“I wouldn’t have to punt until the second quarter because we always got touchdowns on the first drive,” he said.
Miller was thinking of going into the Air Force due to his grandparents’ advice. Then, his guidance counselor got involved.
“She encouraged me to go to college,” he said.
Then, head football coach Scott Young got involved.
“I talked to Coach Young and five minutes later, he called me back to his office,” Miller said. “He gave me the message that Methodist had called me.”
Young seemed as thrilled that Miller is continuing his career as he was when Domonique Noble picked Georgia Tech.
“I’m really happy for Kelly,” beamed Young. “He’s dedicated. He put in a lot of work.”
The Monarchs were 2-8 (1-6 in the USA South) last season but lost games by 6, 3, 4 and 3 points, including one in three overtimes. Who knows what field position might have done to turn losses into wins.
With kickers, there are plenty of ups and downs. Miller remembers the playoff win against Northwest Cabarrus when he had three punts blocked.
But when the pressure was on, Miller was at his best.
Miller and Young pointed to one of the West’s toughest wins, a 20-14 nail-biter against Hibriten in the Western 3A final. Miller had five punts that night but angled those kicks just right and put Hibriten in poor field position. It helped propel West into the state title game where it ripped Eastern Alamance.
“All my punts were on point and I had high spirals,” Miller said of the Hibriten victory.
That also got some colleges’ attention.
“That was a big game for him to kick well in,” Young said. “It paid off.”
The sturdy, 6-foot-1 Miller eventually finished with an average of 33.7.
He laughs at how he became Young’s punter. He was a defensive lineman when he first started playing at West.
“They called me ‘Glass’ because I got hurt so much,” he said. “They didn’t have a punter so I became one.”
Little did he know when he was kicking in the backyard or in YFL as a kid that his foot would produce a chance to go to college like all of those other well-known Falcons.
“I was proud to be a part of it because I changed field position a lot,” he said of the 46-game win streak.
And he is just as confident heading off to college as Noble.
“(Methodist) said their punter was a cheerleader,” Miller said. “They said he was like 5-6, 170. I don’t know if I’ll start or not, but I’m twice his size. So hopefully, I’ll go there and dominate.”
He’s the third Rowan County player who will suit up for head coach Dave Eavenson next season, joining Carson quarterback Zack Gragg and Salisbury tight end Riley Gallagher.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Miller said.