By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Very few coaches reach 100 career wins, but Waverly coach Jason Miller can count himself among the privileged few after the Wolverines’ 7-0 win over Valley rival Athens here Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
“It’s a pretty cool way to get your 100th.
“I have a lot of respect for (Athens head coach) Jack (Young) and (defensive coordinator) Dan (Kelleher). They’ve always done a great job,” said Miller.
“It’s special to get it against them, in a game like that,” added Miller.
In 17 seasons (2001, 2004-19), Miller, Waverly’s all-time winningest coach, has amassed a record of 100-65.
“It’s about longevity as much as anything, I guess,” laughed Miller, who is a Waverly grad.
“I’m proud of our community, and I’m proud to be the head coach.
“If you go back 20 years, it’s the only thing I wanted,” added Miller. “But, it’s led me into a career in education, so it’s done a lot for me. It’s a pretty neat thing, and I’m looking forward to doing it for a few more years.”
Miller was flooded with emotions and memories after the milestone win.
“The thing I think about is all the great players.
“I’m thinking of my quarterbacks — starting with John Wylie, into the Matt Lewis era, then you get to (Marc) Kuzma, (Zach) Cooney, (Peyton) Miller, Gavin Judson, Colby Sindoni, and now Joey Tomasso.
“There are a lot of kids you get close to, especially the quarterbacks,” said Miller.
“Then you think about all the big games. I can think of three that are really special, including tonight, that were against Athens.
“It’s a lot of fun, and special,” added Miller.
Waverly has won three Section IV titles (2008 Class B, 2011 Class C, and 2015 Class B) under Miller, but the biggest win in his career was in the 2008 Class B semifinals.
“Our defining win was in 2008 against Chenango Forks in the Class B semifinals,” said Miller. “That was an upset … we won it in overtime. Kevin (Gorman) punched it in … we were down 1, and we went for two on the road to beat the greatest program in the State.
“That was the defining win, but we’ve had so many special wins,” he said. “Beating Corning with Jason Rodriguez, who is starring at St. John Fisher now, was a huge win.
“The first win against Tioga, at Tioga, in 2007 is one that really sticks out in my mind,” noted Miller. “The win at home against Tioga in 2012 was also a huge win — we were both coming off our first trips to the state semifinals, and our stadium was packed.
“The 38-0 win over Greene in 2011 in the Section IV finals when they were ranked No. 1 in the State, and then turning around and beating Herkimer soundly in the state quarterfinals — they were both big wins,” continued Miller.
“One of the greatest games we played in, we didn’t win, and that was against Cazenovia in the (2015) state quarterfinals … they went on to win a state title,” added Miller. “We lost in overtime (17-14), but we scored at the end of the game, and got the two-point conversion to tie it up.”
Miller said games like Saturday night’s win at Athens are what keep him coaching.
“Those kinds of games, that are close like (Saturday), that take a lot of passion from the kids during the game, and intensity. Those games can turn either way very quickly.
“The thing about all those games is the stress that’s in the game,” he said. “The constant battle back-and-forth to hold on and win those games. Most of those games I mentioned are the games where we held on at the end, or did something at the end to win.
“Those are the fun games, like tonight,” added Miller.
IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Jason Miller. … PHOTO COURTESY OF SHANNON McCARTY.
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