For an idea of what Dan Miller has meant to the St. Catherine’s High School football program, consider the following:
When he took over prior to the 2004 season, the Angels had lost 70 of their previous 110 games.
But beginning with a 33-6 victory over Milwaukee Pulaski Aug. 27, 2004, Miller has compiled a record of 117-47 with eight conference championships. Seven of those championships have come in the last eight years.
His signature accomplishment came the evening of Nov. 15, when the Angels completed an undefeated season with an 8-7 victory over St. Croix Central in the WIAA Division 4 championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It was on that same field almost 30 years to the day earlier when Miller helped Park win the Division 1 state championship as a junior linebacker.
After guiding St. Catherine’s to the state championship, Miller was voted the All-County Coach of the Year in voting by the county football coaches. Miller also won the honor in 2007 and ‘14, when he coached the Angels to the state semifinals.
“This year more than anything, it’s just icing on the cake,” he said. “The state title and the way we went about winning it, the undefeated season, that’s what it’s all about. It’s what the kids did. It’s what the boys put in, all the effort that they put in by buying into my program.
“When it finally came true, it was a little validation that what you’ve been doing for so many years is good and makes sense. And then to have the coaches in the county recognize that is very special.”
This team was Miller’s finest achievement to date. It took four years of building, with three players who entered their fourth season as starters and nine who entered their third year as starters last August.
Impact players the likes of Tim Carthron, Guy Van Dis, Adrian Garcia, D.J. Carter and Isaiah Dodd were schooled by Miller and his staff. Miller himself learned from one of the giants in high school coaching from Wisconsin — Phil Dobbs, who led Park’s program from 1973-95.
And it all came together at Camp Randall Stadium, when a late touchdown run and two-point conversion by quarterback Da’Shaun Brown sealed that dramatic championship victory over St. Croix Central.
It was the players who made it happen.
But those players wouldn’t be who they became without going through Miller’s program. And what a program it has been for the last 16 years.
“I think Dan has done a great job over the years,” said Catholic Central coach Tom Aldrich, who has won two state championships. “Obviously, he’s had some talented players these last couple of years, but, sometimes, that can be a challenge in itself to coach those guys and get them to be cohesive as a team.
“I thought he did an outstanding job of bringing all those guys together.”