Miller got its first win of the season under new coach Shawn Moore last week, a 42-15 rout of Moreno Valley Vista Del Lago.
“I think it was a good all-around win. We did a lot of things well,” Moore said.
Miller looks a little different on offense this year, even with senior star athlete/quarterback Malik Flowers returning from Justin Nast’s team last year.
Moore has chosen to play Flowers at receiver and running back, instead of quarterback, because that’s where Flowers will more than likely play in college. He doesn’t want to hinder Flowers’ recruitment by playing him at another position.
How has that worked?
In Miller’s opener, Flowers caught four passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-15 loss to Perris. Last week, he rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
But Moore says another running back, senior Kenny Thompson is also a standout talent.
“He’s a guy hardly anyone knows about,” Moore said.
He’s back as boys basketball coach, and it would seem, for the foreseeable future.
John Romagnoli, who first became head coach at Miller High in 1998, is back after his second one-year hiatus since then.
“I realized I was 46 years old and I wasn’t ready to hang it up (for coaching),” Romagnoli said.
Romagnoli’s teams at Miller have probably been the school’s most consistent, missing the playoffs only once (his first season) in 15 years as head coach. After serving as assistant coach to Gary West beginning in 1995, Romagnoli replaced West as head coach in 1998 and was the head coach until he first became athletic director in 2010, when he stepped down to concentrate on that job.
He returned after a year in which Miller missed the playoffs, then served as head basketball coach and athletic director for three years until last year, when the district forced to choose between the two positions.
Romagnoli said he chose to remain as athletic director last year because he needed to get ready to move his mother-in-law out from Chicago to live with his family. He said the year away this time (when the team missed the playoffs) was much worse.
“Last time, I took the new (athletic director) job and that was kind of exciting,” he said. “I had coached 10-11 years at that point. Now, I’m completely revitalized, I got the (Inland Valley) all-star game resurrected. … Even when I wasn’t coaching, I was a (basketball) junkie, going to college basketball practices.
“I guess I’m at that point, where the coaching part comes easy. I feel like I’m back.”
School has started at Fontana, and as a result of returning to coaching, Romagnoli had to step down as athletic director and is back teaching. He monitors online classes that Miller students are taking.
“I’m a little bit of a tech guy,” he said. “I really wanted something different.”
So, as a result, long time Miller coach Jeff Omar is taking over as athletic director.
“Jeff’s learning the ropes and I’m there to help him out,” Romagnoli said.
The Miller High football team is still looking to get some on-field success, but it’s getting it off the field.
Soon-to-be senior linebacker/defensive end Freddy Livai has verbally committed to Brigham Young University.
“It’s been my dream school ever since eighth grade,” said Livai. “And my cousin goes there.”
Livai’s cousin is Sione Takitaki, who played at Menifee Heritage in high school and will be a sophomore this season.
Livai won’t be joining his cousin right away, however. As a Mormon, he intends to go on a church mission immediately after high school.
The BYU commitment didn’t come without plenty of offers. He received interest from several Pac-12 schools and, according to Rivals.com, he received offers from Colorado, Oregon State, UNLV, Washington State and Weber State.
Livai, who is about 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, said he doesn’t think his commitment will help get colleges out to recruit other Miller players.
“It’s already happening,” he said. “Our quarterback, Malik Flowers, just got his first offer at Weber State.”
Big-time college offers are coming in for area football programs, and not all of them are schools that have gotten top scholarship offers in recent history.
Miller, which is coming off three straight 1-9 seasons, is one of those.
Soon-to-be senior linebacker Freddy Livai, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, got offers from Oregon State, Washington, Boise State and Northern Arizona, and previously received offers from Colorado and New Mexico.
He’s not the only Rebel getting noticed. Quarterback Malik Flowers, who will be a junior, received an offer from Weber State. Flowers threw for 925 yards and six touchdowns last year and was also the team’s leading rusher with 848 yards and five touchdowns.
Oregon State is also focusing its efforts on Carter, where the Beavers have made offers to two more players.
While Lokeni Toailoa has gotten a lot of recruiting focus for more than a year, his brother Leni, a wingback/defensive back,is getting noticed now and received an offer from Oregon State. His teammate, Marcus Strong, also a wingback/defensive back, was offered a scholarship by Oregon State.
You may have seen the story about Clovis High assistant Justin Nast named as the next Miller coach.
I was cautioned that it not only is pending board approval, but it is pending reference and background check by the district’s human resources department. So it is not done, quite yet.
But if he does become the next coach, here are the pros and cons I caught from a phone interview I conducted with him.
- He is young (26) and he has the energy to take over a program that needs a nudge in the right direction, not an overhaul despite a 1-9 record last year.
- He has experience working at two schools that have had success under different offensive systems and will adapt his offense based on personnel, not the other way around.
- He is already breaking down film from last year, coming up with ideas on how to stop the offensive schemes of Miller’s opponents. That’s getting a head start if you ask me.
- Coming from outside the area, he can have some fresh ideas and not have preconceived notions about Miller or the Citrus Belt League.
- Especially at his current school, Clovis, he has shown a dedication to the athletic program as a whole, not just football.
On the surface, there might be little to enjoy about Cajon’s girls basketball 55-53 Citrus Belt League victory over Miller on Thursday.
- Cajon won despite being held scoreless for the final 2:50.
- The teams went a combined 0-for-4 from the line in the final 1:01, with Cajon twice missing the front end of a one-and-one.
- More than 4 1/2 minutes into the game, the score was 4-4.
- Miller made just eight of 18 free throws in the game.
But despite all that, it was an incredible game. It was probably one of the best league girls basketball games I’ve seen in a long time. It had a great pace to it. Both teams are fast, move the ball and play tough defense, and neither team led by more than seven points at any point in the game. Every shot and pass was contested. Neither team goes deep into their benches for a game like this, and both teams were in foul trouble but that made the game interesting.
Miller definitely has more size and experience. Miller has 6-foot-3 senior LaCrisha Mackall and starts two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Cajon has no player taller than 6-feet, and starts three freshmen, a junior and a senior. The contrast in styles was interesting.
I am already looking forward to the rematch, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at Miller. But both teams need to be careful as there is plenty of talent in the league. On an off-night, Miller or Cajon could lose to someone else in the league.