April 22, 2010 10:42:00 AM
LOUISVILLE -- M.C. Miller is coming home.
The veteran football coach, who had recently accepted the job as head football coach at Harrison Central High School, left the Red Rebels to return to his hometown Louisville Wildcats after the Louisville School District approved the hiring Wednesday night.
Miller, who opted to leave Noxubee County after 30 years, beat out 11 candidates for the Harrison Central job before jumping at the chance to replace Brad Peterson as head football coach. Peterson is the new football coach at Class 6A Brandon High.
The decision allows Miller to jump back into one of the area''s hottest rivalries: Louisville and Noxubee County.
The timing of the hire comes days before the start of spring practice, and ensures the stability of a Louisville High program that has won seven state titles and has proven to be one of the state''s most consistent programs.
Miller said Harrison Central Athletic Director Lonnie Tillman and the school''s administration supported his decision. On Monday, Harrison Central High hired longtime assistant coach Sheldon Black to be its new head football coach.
"The Louisville job came open two days after I accepted the Harrison job, and I knew it was the best opportunity for me and my family," Miller said. "When it came open, I talked to Lonnie Tillman about it and told him I was going to apply for it even though I knew I was accepted (at Harrison). I told them that if they didn''t want me to, I wouldn''t. But they were supportive."
Miller''s 184-77 record at Noxubee County included Class 4A state title game appearances in 2007-08 and a Class 4A crown in ''08.
The timing of Peterson''s departure and Miller''s decision to leave Noxubee County worked out well for Louisville High, which is still in search of a new athletic director. Peterson held both titles while he was at the school.
Miller, who commuted from Louisville to Macon while coaching the Tigers, is excited to remain a member of his church. He also won''t have to worry about traveling 225 miles from his home to Harrison Central, a Class 6A school in Lyman.
Miller also admits he won''t face the challenge of trying to build a program at Harrison Central. Louisville is established and championship ready. The Wildcats won Class 3A state titles in 2007-08.
"It was going to be a challenge to turn that program around because even though they had good athletes they didn''t seem to have a lot of skill position players," Miller said of Harrison Central. "I''m not putting them down, but that was a challenge I would have faced in a non-football town. I knew that heading down there.
"I know what Louisville has, and, in my opinion, Louisville has skill people. This is a football town, too, and I was in the same atmosphere. At Harrison, football would have to compete with other sports."
Miller, a 1967 graduate of Camille Street High and a former all-conference prep player, played collegiately at Wiley (Tex.) before moving on to play at Alcorn State.
Miller was set to be introduced to Louisville assistant coaches at 7 a.m. today before holding a press conference at 9 a.m., when he would meet his players.
A source close to the hiring process said Miller was one of three candidates who interviewed for the job.
With former defensive coordinator Keith Braddock''s move to be the coach at Northeast Jones, Miller will have two assistant coaches to select.
Miller declined to comment on his staff until he spoke to the Louisville High administration about the vacancies and candidates. He said he is confident he''ll have full support from the school district after leaving Noxubee County for what he called "diminishing support" for the football program.
Miller cited differences with Noxubee County Principal Dr. Hattie Thomas and the school''s administration about funding and not having enough coaches for varsity and junior varsity teams as his chief reasons for leaving for Noxubee County.
Multiple messages left for Thomas were not returned.
Still, Miller said he doesn''t hold any bad feelings against the Macon community. After all, those fans will see their old ball coach at least once every season.
"I''m still in the same conference with Noxubee, and that''s exciting," Miller said. "It was a rivalry game before and it will remain that way. I know LHS has good players, the same with Noxubee. It just has a new twist starting next season."