MIDDLETOWN — A Bearcat has been chosen to lead the Raider football program.
That was the decision announced Thursday evening in the Shenandoah High School cafeteria, as Matt Miller, a 2005 graduate of Muncie Central High School, was announced as the new head football coach at Shenandoah.
Miller was hired to replace Jordan McCaslin, who is taking his coaching talents west to become a football assistant coach, perhaps defensive coordinator, at Class 6A Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers.
According to SHS Athletic Director Todd Salkoski, who addressed a good-sized audience at the “Meet and Greet the Coach Night,” Miller will become the 10th head football coach in the history of the high school, which started playing varsity football in the 1972 season.
As already noted, Miller graduated from Muncie Central High School in 2005 and attended Indiana University in Bloomington, where he received his undergraduate degree.
Miller stayed in Bloomington after graduating from IU and served as an assistant football coach at Bloomington North High School under long-time Head Coach Scott Bless, who still is head football coach at the school.
While Miller was with the the Cougars, they were just 3-6 in the 2010 regular season but advanced all the way to the Class 5A southern semi-state before losing to eventual state runner-up Lawrence Central.
At the time, Indiana had only five football classes (A through 5A), so Bloomington North competed against the biggest schools in the state during the IHSAA tournament.
Miller stated that Bloomington North was the second-smallest school in 5A that season. Miller was an assistant football coach for the Cougars for five seasons.
An avid believer that weightlifting, training, and conditioning boosts performance in all sports, Miller left Bloomington North to take a position in those areas at East Stroudsburg State in Pennsylvania.
A little later, Miller performed the same roles in a position at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Miller then headed west and took a similar position in St. Louis, Missouri.
After a couple of years there, Miller and his wife Megan, a 2004 graduate of Muncie Central High School, had daughter Ellen and a desire to return to their Hoosier roots.
So the family returned to Muncie and Miller took a position at Ball State University.
“My first year, I was coordinator of fitness and wellness programs for the recreation department,” Miller noted, “and managed three wellness centers. Later, I was given more duties including overseeing the sports clubs and intramural clubs. I did not have direct involvement with the Ball State football program.”
Miller was working in the family financing business when the position at Shenandoah opened up. Having a strong desire to become a high school football head coach, Miller applied for the position as Raider head coach and was chosen.
“My philosophy is that you earn a victory every day, be it in the classroom, weight room, practice field, or in a game,” Miller told Thursday’s audience. “I believe that people of character win championships, and that’s what we will do here. I prepare my players for not only success on the playing field, but also success in life.”
Miller went into a few details of what Raider fans can expect from his Shenandoah football teams.
“We will run the ball first, and pass second,” Miller remarked. “I believe in establishing a strong running game because it opens it up for play-action passing. I understand that Shenandoah has had good rushing attacks in recent seasons, so this won’t be totally new to you.”
Miller then turned his attention to the defensive side of the game.
“I aim to take the best things Shenandoah has done on defense in recent seasons and build on that,” Miller said. “We want to be a quick, hard-hitting defense.”
One thing that will ease the transition from the McCaslin era to the Miller era, was the announcement that all of the assistant coaches from last season will be retained.
Of course, Miller will be a teacher as SHS.
“I’ll be teaching three weight-lifting classes plus some health classes, as well,” Miller remarked.”
Miller will hit the ground running, as he announced he will begin his duties at his new employer on Monday, April 12.
“We will have spring football practices, beginning the week of April 12, on Wednesday and Friday mornings from 6:15 to 7:15 a.m. for five weeks,” Miller said. “These practices will not conflict with those players who are in a spring sport.”
Miller also plans to have open-facility training after school weekdays starting on Monday, April 12 through the end of the school year, which is on Monday, May 24. These sessions are open to all athletes at the school who want to improve their performances.
After almost a two-week break, Miller will commence summer activities by holding open-facility all-sport strength and conditioning training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. starting on Monday, June 7, and football activity days on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. beginning Tuesday, June 8.
These will last for six weeks, not including the IHSAA-mandated Moratorium Week from June 28 to July 2 during which coaches aren’t allowed any contact with players.
Open-facility all-sport strength and conditioning training will continue for three days the week of July 26. Fall football camp is Aug. 1 and 2, and then fall practice starts in earnest. The first regular season football game is Friday, Aug. 20.
As one probably can determine from these schedules, Miller is well-organized and has plans to continue the football program’s winning ways.
Shenandoah has had 13 consecutive winning football seasons (2008 through 2020) under McCaslin and his predecessor Scott Widner, who is now principal of Tri High School. The Raiders won Class 2A sectional titles under Widner in 2012 and 2014, but didn’t get past the regional round.
“My plans are to be as successful as those previous Raider teams,” Miller said, “and have deep runs in the IHSAA tournament. Our goal is to be a championship football team.”
North Decatur has joined the Mid-Eastern Conference, so Shenandoah now will play four conference football games instead of three.
Miller’s wife Megan accompanied him to Thursday’s meeting.
“He and I were high school sweethearts,” Megan Miller said. “I graduated one year ahead of him, but we have been together since high school. We will have been married 13 years this June, our daughter Ellen will turn 6 next month (May), and our son Jack is 3. We live in Muncie and have plans to live there for now.”
It often has been said that behind every good man is a good woman, and Megan Miller seems as excited as her husband that he is at Shenandoah.
“He (Matt Miller) has a real passion for coaching football,” Megan Miller added, “and he finally has an opportunity to do what he really wants. I’m behind him 100 percent and know he will do everything he can to continue Shenandoah’s winning tradition.”