Miller embarks on the Soward era

The 2010 season ended about as awkwardly as it could have for Miller, as the Rebels had a senior hazing incident spiral out of control and cost coach Jeff Strycula his job the night before they were going to play for a league title against Redlands East Valley. Predictably, the dysfunctional Rebels lost and were eliminated from postseason consideration despite finishing in a second-place tie in the Citrus Belt League.

But new coach Marcus Soward, who was hired to replace Strycula in the offseason after spending the past three years as Arroyo Valley’s head man, hasn’t encountered any of the awkwardness and chaos that spelled the end of the 2010 season.

“It’s a great atmosphere out here,” said Soward, who has also coached at San Bernardino High School. “It’s a very family-oriented program and everyone is working well together. There are a lot of high-character kids, which makes it easy to coach.”

The Rebels don’t have a lot coming back from last year, as the Rebels were full of seniors in 2010. But Miller does receive perhaps the biggest impact transfer in the county in senior linebacker Reshawn Hooker (6-2, 210), who has 14 scholarship offers already after a first-team all-San Andreas League season at Arroyo Valley last year as a junior.

“He’s got Arizona, Boise State, my alma mater (Arizona State), UCLA and Colorado looking at him really hard,” Soward said. “We seem to have scouts all over our practices, which just gets all of the kids excited. The kids come up to me and wonder what they have to do to get to that level and I think that makes the whole program better.”

Hooker will be joined at linebacker by senior Ray Sanchez (6-1, 220), who will also see time on Miller’s offensive line. Sanchez embodies Miller’s line a bit, as the Rebels will be a bit undersized in the trenches. Senior Juan Ortiz (6-2, 250) also returns on the offensive line.

The Rebels, as always, are highly blessed with skill position players who should take nicely to Soward’s preferred spread offense. Seniors Willie Graham (6-0, 175) and Turner Jackson (5-9, 170) will be joined by juniors Martee Witt (6-1, 170) and Kelly Fields (5-8, 170) at the receiver/defensive back positions. Junior Aaron Miano (6-0, 185) will be the man at quarterback and Soward, who coached Robert Fuller and Michael Yearwood at Arroyo, feels that Miano may eventually be the best quarterback he’s coached.

Miller schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)

Sept. 2: at Lake Elsinore Lakeside
Sept. 9: NORTH HOLLYWOOD
Sept. 16: at Arroyo Valley
Sept. 23: ETIWANDA
Sept. 30: OAK HILLS
Oct. 14: vs. Redlands East Valley (University of Redlands)*
Oct. 21: EISENHOWER*
Oct. 28: at Fontana*
Nov. 4: at Yucaipa*
Nov. 10: REDLANDS*