It didn’t take long for Dave Miller to get misty-eyed when reflecting on a great run with the Covington High School football program. He immediately paused, blinked back cherished memories, and admitted there were few places he’d rather be as a head coach.
“I could have spent the rest of my (coaching) career there,” he admitted. Instead, he’ll make his debut as Fairmont’s new head football coach this coming season.
Miller might be new to the Firebirds, but his roots are deeply planted in Kettering. He attended school in the Kettering City School District and moved over to Centerville in eighth grade, mainly because his father, Dave Miller Sr., was a key member of legendary Centerville coach Bob Gregg’s football staff. Dave Miller Sr. eventually would be Beavercreek’s head coach and an assistant at multiple programs.
Dave Miller Jr. played on Elks teams that lost just two games in three seasons and was a senior starter at quarterback.
Now 49, Miller is well-traveled as an assistant coach and has 15 years of head coaching experience at Twin Valley South and Covington. He guided the Buccs to unprecedented small-school success the last nine seasons: 86-20 overall record, nine playoff appearances, six Cross County Conferences titles, five teams that were 10-0 in the regular season and a 43-game regular-season win streak.
Much of his staff is from Centerville: George Reinke, Jake Feldmeyer, Greg Bell, David Fleming, Keith Bertram, Larry Noffsinger, Simon Abboud and assistant head coach Pat Roncagli. Shad Earick and Jeff Schwartz came from Covington. Dave Baker, Brendon Cunningham and Josh Jackson are the other assistants. “We have a nice staff,” said Miller, grinning.
Miller succeeds Andy Aracri as the Firebirds’ head coach. Aracri, now an assistant at Centerville, was not renewed after six seasons, including 2-8 last year. Fairmont hosts Alter in the season opener on Aug. 26.
Here’s what Miller had to say about all that and more:
Q: Why would you leave Covington?
A: The bottom line is my (two sons). That place was special and they treated us like gold. It was tough to leave. I told my wife I’m content. I loved the community and I loved the kids. We moved south and I kind of knew then. We’re both from Centerville and our mothers are living in Centerville and getting older and we wanted to be around them. It was either, I’m going to keep coaching and miss my kids playing football or I’m going to stop coaching and watch my kids play and that was going to kill me, because I love (coaching). Now, I’ve been able to bring it all here.
Q: You live in Centerville, taught at Beavercreek and coached at Covington?
A: It sounds crazy, but I loved it. There’s something about driving through those cornfields that clears your head.
Q: Your dad still coaching?
A: Oh, no. He’s retired and moved to Phoenix. He’s been approached about getting back in it out there, but I think it’s too hot for him. He needs to stay right where he’s at.
Q: Where have you been an assistant coach?
A: At Centerville in the late 1980’s. At Kenton for (head coach) Mike Mauk. At Northmont (with current Alter head coach Ed Domsitz). At Alter in 2004 and Centerville in 2005-06. I was the head coach at TV South from 1996-2001. We won two CCC titles and went to a regional final in 1999.
Q: Will you run the ball as often as your Covington teams did?
A: That’s my DNA. The thing about our offense, when you have average kids it works. When you have good kids it works even better. When you have great kids it’s explosive. I’m not going to beat us. It works for Alter. College coaches will tell you that, the ones who are smart. They’ll say, that’s great all the stuff we do, but we recruit. You’re getting kids from your high school and community and we do what works.
Q: What’s the mood around Fairmont football?
A: There’s a learning curve. There’s a trust factor. The guys we brought on staff, our kids don’t understand how much knowledge these guys have. They know what success is like. That 38 years down there (at Centerville) from 1975 to 2013 with one losing record is not an accident. You have to look at that and realize the guys who are the coaching part of that know what they’re doing. That gave instant credibility to our staff. Our kids are at least willing to be coached. The other part of it is how hard are (the players) willing to work?
Q: Do you know when Fairmont last defeated Alter?
A: It was 2004. I have tons of respect for what (Domsitz has) done and he still puts together some really good football teams. We know; we’ve seen them on film. We know what they’ve got back. Realistically, I just want our kids to compete. I think we got a good shot at that. There’s talent here. That’s the one thing that surprised me when I came here in February.
Q: What’s all this about not saying Centerville out loud?
A: We don’t use that word. We use BGA: Bob Gregg Academy. That’s how we get by with it. We were told not to use Centerville. It’s embedded. It’s a philosophy.