DeWITT, Iowa — As practice nears its close for Central DeWitt, the coach’s voice booms across the field, urging his players to match or beat their total from the previous drill.
Elsewhere in practice, one of the Sabers’ kicking candidates drills a long field goal, and the coach heartily congratulates the work of the special teams unit.
Clearly, intensity is a trademark of new DeWitt coach Mike Miller, and the Sabers couldn’t be happier about his style.
“He’s on top of everything, and it’s enjoyable to have him as coach,” senior quarterback Mitch Green said. “It pushes us to our best, it pushes the whole team and it pushes the coaches, too.”
It’s no accident. Miller believes that enthusiasm produces better results, and if the players didn’t see it from him, that lesson wouldn’t come across.
“Our coaching staff has brought a lot of enthusiasm,” Miller said. “That’s one of the things I want them to carry with them throughout their lives. Regardless of whatever you’re doing, you’ve got to enjoy it. It’s just going to be hearsay if our coaches aren’t out here modeling that same type of model that we’re trying to have them buy into.”
That hasn’t been a problem for the Sabers. Miller said he was impressed with Central DeWitt’s work in the offseason, a result of the Sabers trying to make amends for a season that left them a point short of a trip to the playoffs.
“We know what we need to do to win,” senior linebacker A.J. Smith said. “We haven’t been a losing program in our history, so losing just isn’t acceptable here. We came into (last) year with higher hopes than we ended up. But we did some positive things, and we’ve got pretty important people coming back.”
That has the Sabers running their new triple option offense at a more advanced level than Miller was expecting when he took the job.
“I’m very pleased,” Miller said. “I’m very happy with our work ethic and our attitude, especially with our senior kids. I think they’ve done an outstanding job setting the precedent for what we want to establish in my first year.
“There’s no question that (former coach Kurt Kreiter) has set a fabulous foundation for me to step in and do the things I’ve been able to do. We’ve been trying to build off what has first been established by Coach Kreiter.”
The Sabers established an identity as a run-first team under Kreiter, who is now the athletic director. They will throw a little more often out of Miller’s triple option, but the main switch from the winged-T is changing the way they grind out yards.
“We’ve made the adjustment, and coach Miller has implemented his offense very well,” Green said. “It’s simple, and we’re getting it down at every position.”
The challenge now is putting that into practice and making up for a lack of consistency that caused a disappointing 4-5 season.
“We still have a bitter taste in our mouth from missing the playoffs,” Green said. “We all remember that every day, losing to (Center Point-Urbana) by one point. We know the feeling, and we’re not going to let it happen again.”