By David Fong
COVINGTON — For the past nine years, Dave Miller has given his heart and soul to the kids on the Covington High School football team.
Beginning next fall, Miller is going to keep giving … but it’s going to be a little closer to home.
“When I first got to Covington nine years ago, I really thought I would stay there for the rest of my career,” Miller said. “It’s just a great place to be. But then when I got the opportunity to coach my son, that was just too good to pass up. It really is just the perfect situation for me. I think this is every father’s dream, to be able to coach his son.”
Tuesday evening, Miller was officially named the head coach at Fairmont High School. In doing so, he’ll be able to coach his oldest son, Braden, who will be a sophomore at Fairmont next season. Miller said he hopes to stay long enough to coach his younger son, Connor, as well.
“Honestly, this is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life,” Miller said. “I love the kids at Covington. I love the parents and I love the community. Really, I love everything about coaching there. But the chance to coach my son really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Leaving is going to be hard. We’ve got some super kids over here at Covington.”
Miller leaves behind one of the most impressive coaching legacies in the Buccaneers’ storied football history.
In his nine years at Covington, Miller compiled an 86-20 (.811 winning percentage) record, just three wins short of the school-record 89 wins former coach Larry Tisdale compiled over a 12-year span. Five of his teams went 10-0 during the regular season, including a 43-game regular season winning streak from 2009-14.
His teams made the playoffs each of his nine years as coach and captured six Cross County Conference championships.
“I had a lot of great kids and a lot of great assistants during my time here,” Miller said. “I give them the credit for our success.”
Despite going from a Division VII program to a Division I team, Miller said he plans on keeping many of the same strategies that worked so well at Covington.
“I don’t understand guys who say they are going to fit what they do around their personnel,” Miller said. “What happens if some guys get hurt and you lose that personnel? I think Fairmont fits what we want to do. The key is going to be getting the kids to buy in to what it is we do.”
Covington must now begin the search for a new football coach. Miller said he has faith the administration will find a worthy replacement.
“Absolutely,” he said. “They’ve got a great superintendent in Gene Gooding, Josh Long is an outstanding principal and Roger Craft, the athletic director, is as good as it gets. They are going to be the right decision. Everything they do is first rate.”
With that in mind — along with the talent returning from a team that went 8-3, captured a share of the CCC title and made the playoffs last fall — Miller said he’s confident he’s leaving a full cupboard at Covington for the next coach.
“That’s another thing I’m walking away from,” Miller said. “You have to remember that in 2014, we started eight sophomores and three freshman — all of those kids will be seniors and juniors this fall. I’m leaving behind a three-year starter at quarterback.
“That’s part of what makes leaving so gut-wrenching. At the last meeting I had with the kids, I almost didn’t make it. I love these kids. Leaving them is going to be hard.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong