Westmoreland County football Q&A with Ligonier Valley’s Kyrie Miller

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | 5:34 PM


If you want to be a captain of the Ligonier Valley football team, you have to apply for the job.

Literally.

“Players submit applications, and they complete tasks and then they are voted on by their peers,” Rams coach Roger Beitel said. “The coaches don’t pick the captains. The players do.”

For the last two seasons, running back Kyrie Miller has been an easy hire — the perfect candidate.

“A two-year captain is rare,” Beitel said.

And so are rushers like Miller, who has etched his name into the perennial power’s record books.

Last week, Miller ran for a personal-best and Rams’ single-game record 258 yards — and four touchdowns — in a 58-14 win over Blairsville. It was Ligonier Valley’s 37th straight Heritage Conference win and put a cap on a fourth straight conference title.

The regular-season game could be the Rams’ last in District 6 because the school voted to join the WPIAL in 2020-21.

Miller won’t get to experience life in the WPIAL, but he will leave a legacy in District 6.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior is Ligonier Valley’s record holder in career rushing yards (3,283) and touchdowns (54), as well as yards (1,561) and touchdowns (27) in a season.

He broke most of former star quarterback Collin Smith’s marks.

“And he missed two games because of forfeits,” Beitel said of Miller. “He has never played a full regular-season game.”

This season, Miller has 1,417 yards and 27 TDs on 111 carries in eight games. That’s 12.8 yards per carry, also a school record. He is chasing Derry senior Justin Huss for the Westmoreland County rushing title.

Miller ran for 220 yards and four TDs against Penns Manor, scored five touchdowns against Saltsburg and piled up 256 yards and four scores when the Rams played Purchase Line.

Maybe it’s his pregame or postgame dips in Tubmill Creek in New Florence — yes, he has done that — his diligence from working on a farm, or his warming personality, but Miller is a game-changer who appreciates the little things in football — and in life.

“(The records) are awesome, but I couldn’t do any of this without my teammates,” he said. “I might make a couple of moves, but someone is making a block down field or opening a hole for me.”

Miller is the subject of this week’s Westmoreland County football Q&A.

Why is Ligonier Valley so good every year? What is the secret?

It’s a way of life. If you want to win, you have to put in the time. You have to be here all the time, at the camps and the workouts. It doesn’t just happen. The guys who played before us showed us the way. They had that dominance, so why shouldn’t we?

What do you think is the perception of Ligonier Valley inside the Heritage Conference, and from the outside?

We hear teams say all we do is win and blow everyone out. Instead of complaining, maybe they could work as hard. The general thought (from outsiders) is that we play in the Heritage Conference, and that’s why we dominate. No, we have an exceptional team, exceptional coaches and dedicated players who love to compete.

Will you reward your linemen for playing their part in your records?

Yes. I might take them out for a steak dinner — as soon as I save enough money. Or maybe we can go to Eat’n Park or something.

Where do you work?

I work at Keiper’s Farm just outside of town. I am in maintenance.

Any cows there?

We had three, but two are gone.

For your steak dinner?

Hmm … maybe so (laughing).

Can you explain these soaks you take in the creek?

I was sore after a game, and my entire body was too bruised up to do a regular ice on the calf or knee, so I figured I’d head down to the creek and be comfortable being uncomfortable. I had to take care of my body somehow. So I figured that was the best thing for me. I’ve actually made a habit out of it. If I have a game, then I usually do it the night before.

Even when it’s icy cold? How deep is the water?

It was 35 (degrees) one night last week. And it’s only about 4 feet deep, but sitting down in the one spot goes up to my chest area.

What do you think about your school’s pending move to the WPIAL?

It’s awesome. It’s not all due to football. Our other teams need sections to play in. I wrestle as well, and we only have four teams in the Heritage Conference. Our matches sometimes last a half-hour. We need the competition and more opponents.

Any college interest?

Some, yes. But football is not the first thing on my mind. Education comes first. An offer could sway me on that, but I want to major in either engineering or psychology.

At what sport are you secretly good?

Dodge ball.

Last movie you saw in the theater?

Zombieland: Double Tap. It’s about even with the first one.

What is the best advice you’ve received from coach Beitel?

Play the next play. I fumbled in the district title game. Coach Beitel didn’t yell at me. He just said, ‘I know you didn’t want to fumble.’ I didn’t let it get to me. I fumbled four times against Shade (in the state playoffs). But I set the single-game rushing record in the same game.

Any hidden talents?

I am naturally good at putting people in better moods. When I see someone who needs picking up, I talk to them. One of my teachers was having a bad day, and I could tell. I talked to them, and they thanked me for helping them feel better the rest of the day.

Who are the most inspirational people in your life?

Mr. Keiper, my boss at the farm who passed away, used to talk to me about football. When I was down and thinking about not trying anymore — not altogether quitting — he told me to stay with it and to keep working. And (former Rams player) Joey Dubics (who died in 2018). He used to bring out the flag every game. That sent chills through my body. He used to tell me, “You’re going to be awesome.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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