First of all, he's a caring, loving kid who has more athletic ability than you can shake a stick at. —Pine View head coach Ray Hosner
ST. GEORGE — As a young boy, Prentiss Miller was afraid to play football.
"(My mom) kind of forced me into it," said the Pine View High senior running back. "I was afraid of getting hit."
Jo Miller must reflect on her son's initial feelings about football as one of life's ironies because her son has proved to be one of the most effective and durable running backs in the high school ranks.
"My mom is a huge football fan, so she talked me into playing that year," he said of playing as a fourth-grader. "And I loved it."
And with 927 yards rushing in five games, he is clearly no longer afraid of contact.
"He's so fast, tough and hard-nosed," said Pine View head coach Ray Hosner. "He doesn't get easy yards. Every yard he gets, he's earning. People aren't emptying the box for him at all."
In fact, most teams are bringing everyone because the Panthers have been playing without starting quarterback Kody Wilstead, who broke his ankle.
"He's getting those yards with eight guys in the box," Hosner said. "Prentiss has been carrying the team to this point. We're getting (Kody) back this week so maybe some of those yards will come a little easier. But he's carried this team to this point."
In carrying the team, Miller has set a state record for number of carries in a single game with 51. The old record was 48 and it was by a much smaller school athlete.
Hosner said they try to keep balance in the offense, but it's difficult when Prentiss is so effective at running back.
"We ask him pretty much every quarter where he's at and how he's feeling and he lets us know," said Hosner. "I tell him to take Mondays off, but he shows up. He's just a tough, tough kid."
Hosner had trouble pinpointing Miller's most valuable skill, but the fact that he can take a hit is among the features that make him invaluable to the Panthers, who hope to compete for a playoff spot in a tough Region 9 race.
"I would think his ability to carry the ball so well, his ability to be so physical is one of his best attributes," said Hosner. "Having durability as a running back, that's going to be one of his selling features (to colleges)."
Miller is so tough to stop, it often doesn't matter that opponents know he's getting the ball.
"He's one of those guys who, when you go to make your defensive game plan, you've obviously got to take care of him first or he will run all over you," said Dixie High head football coach Blaine Monkres. "He's fast, has a low center of gravity and he's a really tough kid. He's one of those kids you keep hitting and he keeps on coming at you. He's just a prototypical running back."
Hosner said Miller's ability to see the field makes him hard to stop, and his work ethic helps him improve every day.
"He has great cuts, a tremendous ability to juke and things like that," Hosner said. "He's a kid who works his butt off, day in and day out, but he doesn't miss a day in the weight room. There's no quit in him."
Miller's life will get easier when Wilstead is back in the lineup.
"Hopefully that will open things up for him," Hosner said. "If we can get some momentum going, I think we're a dangerous playoff team."
Miller believes his team will make the playoffs, but part of that prediction is driven by desire.
"I hate losing," said the four-year starter, who has already earned two 1,000-plus yard seasons. "It's been really hard because teams can just load up the box on us. But I love to play running back."
Don't expect Miller to be any less valuable to his squad even if he's carrying the ball fewer times. He contributes to the team's success in a hundred little ways — on and off the field.
"He can pick up blitzes with the best of them," said Hosner. "First of all, he's a caring, loving kid who has more athletic ability than you can shake a stick at. As far as humility, he's been willing to do anything we've asked him to do — blocking, playing defense, he's the ultimate team player. He doesn't care about stats. Whenever he rushes for big yardage, he tells the offensive line and receivers downfield thanks for blocking. He doesn't ever take credit for the things he's doing. It's fun to see somebody with the work ethic that he has. All of that makes him so much fun to coach."
Prep football rankings
Team Rec. Pv.3 comments on this story
1. Jordan 4-0 2
2. Alta 4-1 1
3. Syracuse 5-0 3
4. Bingham 4-1 4
5. Northridge 5-0 5
Team Rec. Pv.
1. East 4-0 1
2. Timpview 4-1 2
3. Logan 4-1 4
4. Woods Cross 4-1 3
5. Bountiful 4-1 5
Team Rec. Pv.
1. Hurricane 5-0 1
2. Juan Diego 5-0 2
3. Stansbury 5-0 3
4. Dixie 4-1 4
5. Spanish Fork 4-1 5
Team Rec. Pv.
1. San Juan 5-0 1
2. Manti 4-1 2
3. South Summit 4-1 3
4. Emery 4-1 5
5. Millard 4-1 4
Team Rec. Pv.
1. Duchesne 4-0 1
2. Monticello 4-1 3
3. Rich 3-1 2
4. Summit Academy 4-1 4
5. Lay. Christian 3-2 5