After taking over the starting quarterback job midway through his sophomore season, Cooper Miller of St. Louis has taken on more and more responsibility for the team, culminating in last year’s semifinal round playoff game, when he was asked to spearhead the Saints attack against top-seeded St. Thomas More.
Miller delivered, tossing a touchdown pass and 208 yards as the Saints gave the eventual state champions their most difficult game of the playoffs.
The game capped a strong end to the season for Miller, who threw for 799 yards and 8 touchdowns over the final five games of the season, including at least 157 yards in each of the three Saints playoff games.
Miller said he was comfortable having more of the offense placed on his shoulders.
“My first two years taught me a lot about how I needed to run the offense and how to stay calm in big-time situations,” he said. “Last season especially taught me how to stay calm in big moments.”
Getting a taste of the big-game atmosphere at STM has Miller determined to lead the Saints to bigger things this season.
“Before the game it was overwhelming, not going to lie,” he said. “You could feel how nervous everyone was playing in that type of game. Once it came game time though everyone knew that we needed to act like it was just any other game and we needed to go out there and play our football. So once the game started everyone got into that mind set and we all fed off each other’s energy. I’m hoping and believe we’ll have an opportunity to play on a championship game stage this year.”
Being the focus of that week’s game plan pleased Miller.
“It did give me confidence going into that week of preparation and the game,” he said. “I was super pumped up when I saw the game plan for the week. I love being able going out there knowing I’m getting the chance to throw the ball around.”
Last season’s strong finish has Miller aiming for big numbers this season.
“My goals for the season are to throw for 2,000 plus yards, beat the school record we set last year for most points scored in a season, win district and win a state championship. With the help of God, my teammates, and coaches I think these goals are well in reach.”
Miller will have plenty of help as the Saints return most of last year’s starters.
“We lost some key players last year but we are returning a lot of starters who have gained a lot of experience from last season,” he said.
“We have a strong senior class who I think can take control of this team and help lead us to our end goal. Also everyone has been working hard this offseason to ensure that they will be able to do their job to the best of their ability.”
Miller takes a personal approach to leadership.
“I find that it speaks better to the underclass men to lead by example,” he said.
“Everyday at practice or whatever we are doing that day, I try to always stay focused on what we need to do. Also I try to talk to everybody just to get to know my team so that I know what’s going on with my teammates on and off the field so that I can help them if they need it.”