BATH TOWNSHIP – The Bath administration has turned to a former player to help pull the Wildcats back to their old winning ways.
Bryant Miller, a 2000 Bath grad who played wide receiver/defensive back for Jerry Cooper, takes over the Bath program.
He’s very familiar with Bath’s tradition and struggles of late, as the Wildcats went 1-9 last year, 0-9 in the Western Buckeye League.
So far, he’s been happy with the team’s early progress.
Bath has 60 players in the program, 21 juniors and seniors and 39 freshmen and sophomores.
“Our kids are buying in as quick as I could expect them to buy in,” Miller said. “That’s a compliment to our coaching staff and our seniors. They really haven’t experienced any winning at all, and so they have a lot of reasons not to buy in and invest. And the fact that they are, is a credit to them and my assistant coaches getting them to believe.
“We don’t talk about end goals. We focus on ourselves and to be as good as possible at the things we can control.’’
Miller went to play football at Bowling Green State, but was injured early in his career and went on to graduate from the University Findlay in 2004. He didn’t play football with the Oilers.
Miller starting his coaching career with varsity baseball at Delphos Jefferson in 2005.
He started coaching football at Perry at 2006.
From 2008 to 2012, he was an assistant football coach at Celina under Jared Rolfes. He helped the Bulldogs in 2010 post their first winning record in 10 years.
Miller was an assistant at Bluffton High School from 2012 to 2015.
From there, he was an assistant under Rolfes at Northwest Guilford High School (Greensboro, N.C.) in 2015 and 2016.
Last year he took his first head coaching football job at Western Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.), where he took over a rock-bottom program and went 0-10.
Miller takes over a Bath team that has four starters back on offense and five on defense.
Gone to graduation are running backs Drew Spragg and Devon Kinyon, along with quarterback Kobe Burchett.
Lex Boedicker, the starting shortstop in baseball as a freshman last year, also started a few games at quarterback.
The sophomore Boedicker is in the lead to trigger what Miller calls the “flex-bone option.”
Also in contention for the quarterback job are senior transfer from Columbus Caleb Buerger and freshman Cyrus Burden.
Boedicker is also playing defensive back. Buerger can play other positions, as well.
“We will be as much option as we feel like we are capable of,” Miller said. “For us, Lex has to be a kid who is smart and makes good decisions and makes the right reads. I like to think of that kid kind of like a good, distributing point guard.
“We also have the ability to go gun. We’re very multiple, with a lot of motion and misdirection.’’
Also back is running back Tre Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore.
“He’s (Johnson) an athletic kid for being 205 pounds,” Miller said. “And he’s one of the leaders on our team. For what we need him to do, he has more than enough speed, along with having soft hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield.’’
Others to carry the ball will be Eli Rister and Teon White.
Tyler Mauk is back at wide receiver.
The lone returnee on the offensive line is 270-pound guard Brenden Van Horn. Micah Cox, a 5-11, 240-pounder, moves from running back to guard.
The defense will play an aggressive, attacking 3-5 under veteran defensive coordinator around the area and Bath grad Cam Staley.
Staley has returning linebackers Johnson and White.
Also returning are defensive backs Brady Coleman and Zac Simpson.
Up front, the line will count on veteran end Fielden Deeds (5-11, 220).
“I think he (Deeds) could be a difference maker on the defensive line,” Miller said.
Miller feels a huge key for the team is getting the team to have confidence in each other.
“This group has to jell,” Miller said. “When you don’t win and you don’t have a strong winning tradition in recent history, you’re always going to find a fragmented team and guys who have different priorities. Right now my focus is to get these kids to be a unified group and get them to trust each other, trust the coaching staff and trust the guy next to him. We’re on our way there.’’