What a rush! Miller, Ryan run into record book | Football

Brent Ryan, left, and Josiah Miller combined to rush for more yards for Oak Harbor High School in a single season than any other pair. - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
Brent Ryan, left, and Josiah Miller combined to rush for more yards for Oak Harbor High School in a single season than any other pair.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

The cosmos has yin and yang, the lunch pail has peanut butter and jam, and the Oak Harbor High School football team has Brent Ryan and Josiah Miller.

The universe is full of perfect pairs, and the Wildcat football team had its own complementary duo this fall.

Ryan was Oak Harbor’s thunder to Miller’s lightning.

Ryan, a 6-foot, 220-pound fullback, rumbled between the tackles. The 5-9, 145-pound Miller, who is one of the state’s top sprinters during the track season, attacked the edges with speed.

The result: the best one-two running punch in school history. The pair turned in Oak Harbor’s second- and third-best season rushing totals, trailing only record-holder Chris Isaacson, who ran for 1,559 yards in 1982. Miller finished with 1,373, and Ryan one yard back at 1,372.

Miller also set school records in touchdowns in a season (27) and career (44), breaking the records of Blake Ward (23, 2003) and Chris Valencia (35, 2004-7).

Ryan added 18 TD’s this fall, fifth-best in school history.

Miller’s success this season was no surprise. He was a first-team, all-conference player in 2010 as a running back, defensive back and kick returner. His highlights included five punt-return touchdowns.

Although Ryan was an all-league honorable mention choice as a defensive lineman in 2010, he was barely a blip on the offensive stat sheet. He said, “Last year was bad.”

He admitted after a solid sophomore season he took football for granted. He said his showing last fall motivated him to “to turn things around.”

That motivation led to hours in the weight room. The added strength, he said, made “it easier to move guys.”

Ryan said, “I am not going to outrun many people, so when I see someone smaller, I don’t run away from them.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Fisher also commented on Ryan’s added strength. When the Wildcats went to team camp in August, they knew they had something special in the rebuilt Ryan.

Fisher said, “It was a whole different world.”

In the off season, Miller took a different tack. He lifted less and dropped 10 pounds, concentrating on endurance and “track speed.” He said as a junior he tried to be a power runner and believes his added success this year was because he was quicker.

Fisher said attitude changes by both contributed to their success. For Ryan, it was the dedication to the weight room that enhanced his abilities.

For Miller, it was a different mind set. Fisher said Miller is highly confident, but this season that confidence shifted to the team.

Fisher said, “Josiah is the most athletically gifted kid we have had.”

He added, “They both have a competitive drive. Their work ethic was better.”

Strength and speed, however, do not guarantee football success.

Ryan said technique is important: “I try to keep low and use my legs.”

Miller said his “vision to see the field” was an added asset and that he watched film to study defenders to “know their moves.”

Miller and Ryan also pointed to the offensive line.

Miller called the line “the best I have had.”

Ryan added, “Our ‘O’ line was undersized, but they put their time in the weight room. They also had the quickness to get outside.”

Then there was each other.

Ryan said, “My big first half was because teams were keying on Josiah.”

Miller said, “Team’s had to worry about Ryan, too, so things opened up for me.”

Their combined success helped the Wildcats produce one of the school’s best football teams. The pair said the team’s solid season wasn’t by accident.

Miller said, “We have been playing with these guys since youth league. We knew we could do it if we worked together. We have team chemistry; no one cares about stats.”

Wildcats and wins. That’s another good pair.

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