New football coach: Prairie graduate Junior Miller prepared for job at Prairie

Junior Miller, a 2002 graduate of Prairie High School, is thrilled to have the opportunity as the head coach of Prairie football. Photo by Paul Valencia
Junior Miller, a 2002 graduate of Prairie High School, is thrilled to have the opportunity as the head coach of Prairie football. Photo by Paul Valencia

Preparation is key for a new coach, and Junior Miller said he is ready for this opportunity at Prairie High School

Paul Valencia
ClarkCountyToday.com

It was a year to refocus, to rejuvenate for Junior Miller.

He attended a lot of football games, but he wasn’t working football last year.

“I love the sport and I love being around the community,” Miller said. “I took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do.”

He figured out that he could not stay away from a football sideline.

So when the head coaching position opened at his school, he just had to apply.

“Here I am,” Miller said Tuesday night, just moments before leading the Prairie Falcons in a scrimmage against St. Helens, Ore., at District Stadium in Battle Ground.

Miller, a 2002 graduate of Prairie, who then was an assistant coach with the Falcons for a few years before joining Columbia River’s staff for a season, is grateful for this opportunity.

He is one of six new head coaches for Southwest Washington high school football teams as they prepare for the 2024 season. While official practice does not begin until August, high school teams can have conditioning drills, workouts, and a limited number of days in full pads, as well as scrimmages and camps during June and July. These months are crucial for new coaches.

For Miller, it is a chance to show his players what he expects out of them. It is also an opportunity for him to show the administrators who picked him that he is the right person for this position.

He recalled the interview process.

“A lot of it was preparation,” Miller said. “How are we going to go through our practices? How are we going to go through the pregame? How are we going to go through our in-game procedures? I had a coaching staff picked out. I had a vision for not just right now this year, but for long-term success.”

Miller was hired in January, so he was able to meet with his players in plenty of time to prep for spring and summer drills. The athletes showed their commitment to the program with an incredible effort in the offseason in the weight room, the coach said.

“The culture is changing for Prairie football,” Miller said.

The Prairie football team lines up for a play as new head coach Junior Miller looks on Tuesday night at District Stadium in Battle Ground. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Prairie football team lines up for a play as new head coach Junior Miller looks on Tuesday night at District Stadium in Battle Ground. Photo by Paul Valencia

Miller was on staff with the team when the Falcons went 9-2 and won a co-league title in 2019. He was also on the staff for the abbreviated campaign that saw the Falcons go 0-6. The next full year, the Falcons went 6-4.

He has seen a lot of ups and downs.

“The end goal is always going to be a league title,” Miller said.

To get there, it is more than just about results on a Friday night. Miller is not a teacher nor a counselor. But his job does allow him to be remote, so works from a spot on campus. That way he can be there for his athletes throughout the day.

“I’m spending a lot of time building a relationship with kids,” he said.

By mid August and into September, he will have been their head coach for eight, nine months, just as his first season is kicking off, officially.

“I want to see the success for Prairie that they deserve,” Miller said. “It’s my school that I graduated from, and I want these kids to feel that bond from the coaches and the community. I’ve got some roots.”

Family and Prairie. Prairie and family.

Junior met his wife, Amanda, in choir class at Prairie High School back in the day. They have two children, Cooper, 10, and Emersyn, 5. 

Oh, and Emersyn was born on a Friday in September, when Junior was an assistant at Prairie.

With Amanda’s blessing, Junior left the hospital to coach that night. 

Prairie won. 

The Millers won.

Now, the Millers and the Falcons look to win some more together.

“The family support. The community support. I’ve got emails from parents saying these kids are loving what’s going on,” Junior Miller said. 

“I’m excited. It’s going to be fun. Hopefully we can put our name on the map again. That’s the goal.”


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