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Prep football: West Ranch picks new football coach

Former JV coach Jan Miller hired as varsity head coach

Posted: December 19, 2012 3:35 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2012 3:35 p.m.
 

West Ranch High School has chosen former JV and freshman football coach Jan Miller Jr. as its new varsity football head coach, the school’s athletic director Cassandra Perez confirmed Wednesday.

Miller will replace former head coach Sean O’Brien, who resigned on Nov. 6 following a 2-8 season.

As the head coach of the school’s JV football team for the past two years, Miller said he anticipates immediate success.

“This is not going to be a rebuilding process,” Miller said. “I expect to do really well right now with these kids.”

Under Miller, the Wildcats’ JV team finished 8-2 last year and finished second in the Foothill League.

Prior to coaching JV, the 47-year-old Miller also guided West Ranch’s freshman team from 2007-10.

He spent 23 years in the Marine Corps before retiring as a battalion sergeant major in 2006, serving three combat tours in Operation Just Cause in Panama and both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

“I’m a disciplinarian. The kids know I’m a disciplinarian and I think the school faculty liked that about me so I think that probably played a key factor in it, and I went in with a plan,” Miller said.

Among the six current Foothill League coaches, Miller becomes the second ex-Marine to take over a varsity football team, joining Saugus’ Jason Bornn. Miller said the two of them are friends.

In addition to Bornn, Miller spoke highly of his fellow Foothill coaches and said he’s become well aware of the intense competition and sustained success of the league.

“I understand what I’m up against,” he said. “No coach is going to guarantee wins and losses and stuff like that. Of course as a football coach, I want to win. We’re going to be competitive.”

He pointed to West Ranch’s productive running game in recent years and said he wants to add more balance to the offense, especially in such a pass-heavy league.

This season, the Wildcats got a combined 1,700 rushing yards from tailbacks like Mark Collins and Zahr Lyttle. The year before, Jeff Coprich led the way with 1,246 yards on the ground.

Miller, however, said he wants to incorporate a lot more shotgun and power I formations to spread the ball out.
His athletic director confident he can make the change.

“Ultimately, (Miller) has just as much football knowledge and knows his Xs and Os just as much as everybody else does, but he has the familiarity with our kids,” Perez said of the decision.

A total of 21 candidates applied for the job, including people from within the Santa Clarita Valley and others as far as Hawaii, Texas and New York, Perez said.

Miller was also a defensive assistant for the Pasadena varsity football team from 2002-03.

He both played and coached on various adult football teams in the Marines. Miller played linebacker and offensive line in high school, graduating from Reseda High in 1983.

Miller is now a tactics officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.

“Jan brings an honor and passion to everything that he does and a sense of responsibility and a sense of right and wrong,” Perez said. “And I think that translates well to his athletes.”

For the past four years at the varsity level, O’Brien led West Ranch to an overall 18-23 record and the team’s first and only playoff appearance in 2010, when the team went 6-5 and finished third in Foothill.

Miller becomes the school’s third football coach following O’Brien and Mike Kane, who coached varsity from 2006-08.

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