Photo by Darryl Maxie
The Strong Rock Christian seniors -- cheerleaders and football players -- have a little fun at the end of photo day. Kyle Jennings (from left) has Faren Kelly on his shoulders. Joseph Hill has Paulina Girot on his shoulders. B.J. Chancey has Barbi Brewer on his shoulders. Tyler Powell is hoisting Bethany Britt, Coleman Smith lifts Jordan Joseph and Jake Godin has Ashley Henderson on his shoulders.
In the short, four-year history of Strong Rock Christian football, the Patriots are looking for their first winning season.
That explains the school's interest in Miller, a coach who in six seasons took traditional power Woodward Academy and rebuilt it into a perennial playoff team instantly familiar to most knowledgeable Georgia high school football fans. Under Miller, the War Eagles made it to the second round of the state playoffs three years in a row.
It does not, however, explain Miller's interest in Strong Rock.
Miller will tell you it is an extremely long tale, but the Cliff's Notes version is pretty simple. And as we Sunday School superintendents tend to see things -- and spending part of Friday at Strong Rock made it even easier -- a Biblical comparison seems in order.
Think Abraham. Upon introducing Himself to the man then known as Abram, God told the man to leave where he was living for a land he knew nothing about. And Abraham, being the faithful sort, picked up and moved -- no questions asked.
Fast forward a few thousand years to a sparkling new plot of ground in Locust Grove, and we come to the part where Miller gets interested in Strong Rock. Where he leaves the comforts of his private school alma mater.
"It's a long story, but my wife and family are from here," Miller said. "To make an extremely long story short, in mid-spring, (Strong Rock) had let the football coach go and they called me. At first, I said, 'No, thanks, I'm happy where I am.'"
But Miller felt that tug on his heart that told him it was the same Voice that spoke to Abraham. Which meant, time to go to the school he knew nothing about.
"My wife and I talked and prayed about it, and as with most things we've done over the past 10 or 15 years, we listened to the Lord and felt -- crazy as it may sound for a Woodward Academy grad to leave for a small, upstart school -- that if we were going to be faithful to the Lord, then we needed to go."
So they went. And here they are at the Rock.
"For me to leave everything, it had to be something that I was extremely at peace about," Miller said. "And ever since we've been here, it's like a daily confirmation that it was the right move."
Like Sarah, Abraham's wife, Miller laughed -- about the Abraham comparison, that is.
"It's probably more like Peter -- stepping out of the boat and splashing in the lake," Miller said with a chuckle.
Peter didn't drown. Abraham was amply rewarded. The thing Strong Rock fans might be most interested in, Sunday School lesson aside, is how long will it take for the Patriots to be consistently competitive?
"I think it'll take four or five years to really get it going, to where I felt like it's what we were at at Woodward," Miller said.
However long it takes, Patriots fans might have the right man for the job. One thing's for certain -- he's not looking back. You know how that whole Lot's wife thing turned out.
Darryl Maxie covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.