2020 Fall Preview: Miller Football

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

It’ll be a new feel in Miller with Jarred Hansen taking over the reigns. He inherits a team that is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons, something that has happened six times in the last 10 years.

Hansen had a successful six-year stint at Southeast Cherokee in Kansas, where he guided the program to a 7-3 record in 2019, including the first conference title in school history and first playoff win in nearly two decades.

He will have a full rebuild on his hands at Miller, where the Cardinals return just six total starters. In some ways, COVID-19 has made that process even more difficult due to access to players.

On the field, Miller will be led by standouts Joel Kleeman and Jeff Lung. Both seniors were All-Conference selections last year.

“Joel is a dynamic playmaker on offense and will have a chance to shine in multiple ways this year on offense,” said Hansen. “He has a unique skill set that allows him to run great routes but also run extremely well with the ball in his hands. I expect Jeff Lung to make a huge impact this year becoming quarterback and linebacker. He is a good leader and a smart player that makes good decisions and is very dedicated. Jeffrey will need to step up and lead even more this year because of all of the new faces.”

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Hansen also projects Brendan Thom and Logan Nield as two-way starters, with Thom likely seeing reps at corner and receiver. Nield will return to his middle linebacker spot while also seeing minutes along the offensive front.

Cale Tennis could see carries out of the backfield. Caleb Groesbeck will be a playmaker in the secondary and at receiver. Hansen believes both could be dynamic.

“Cale is a smart athlete that works very hard and runs with a chip on his shoulder,” said Hansen. “Kaleb is an athletic kid that should really shine for us this year at wide receiver and free safety. He runs good routes and catches the ball well with his hands.”

Beau Hall and Logan Adams also have the potential to be two-way guys.

Up front there are several new faces that will contribute with Colin Smith, Joey Williams, Austin Hargis, DJ Means, Chance West, Joey Strait, Owen Pritchett, Christian Richetts, and Dakota Washburn all having a chance to earn a starting spot with so much turnover.

It is never easy in Year One to establish a new foundation. That has been complicated even more by a global pandemic that has camps and offseason contact days.

Hansen believes the transition from one coach to another is often a multi-year process. Miller fans can expect to see a physical, disciplined group that is competitive every Friday night.

“The toughest part of taking over a program is the amount of time to install not only the X’s and O’s but the expectations and attitude that you want your program to have,” said Hansen. “This year has been great. The boys have really bought in early and have made my job a lot easier in the process of teaching those items. The fans can expect to see a fundamentally sound football team that will play with great effort and play through the whistle every down.”

Miller will open the 2020 season and Jerrad Hansen Era on Aug. 28 at Cabool. The Cardinals will play their home opener on Sep. 4 versus Pleasant Hope.