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Fall Sports Kick Off displays strong programs

Preseason prospects keep Coach Miller focusing on balance
Generation of Spartans revealed as father and Head Coach Kevin Miller watches downfield behind son and quarterback Cam Miller during a seven-on-seven scrimmage at Spartan Stadium against LaPorte City's Union High School as part of the Fall Sports Kick Off.

SOLON– Spartan Stadium filled with fall sports athletes and Spartan faithful, like a cornucopia of athletic promise, prior to the Spartans’ preseason scrimmage with Union on Friday, Aug. 23.
The matchup, previously scheduled to be played at Union was relocated to Solon when conditions of Union’s field forced the change of venue. Subsequently the Falls Sports Kick Off was also rescheduled from Thursday, Aug. 22, to coincide with the Union scrimmage at Spartan Stadium.
The evening’s activities kicked off at 5 p.m. as the boys and girls cross country teams were introduced. Cross country Head Coach Emy Williams expressed her satisfaction in introducing 57 students out for cross country, 30 girls and 27 boys. The large turnout attests to the quality programs offered in Solon.
The freshman football team was introduced next, followed by the sophomore team and the varsity team in rapid succession.
The marching band was introduced and provided a brief performance, followed by the introduction of the volleyball teams for all grade levels.
The cheerleaders were introduced, accompanied by a brief performance, and the dance team was introduced and performed leading up to the scrimmage.
During the entire event, the Solon Athletic Booster Club worked furiously in the concession stand providing the home crowd and visiting Union families a $5 meal deal that included a sandwich, a bag of chips and a soda.
The two teams took to the field to warm up, shortly before getting down to business. Skilled positions matched up at the 50-yard-line to scrimmage seven-on-seven and the lines sized one another up at the 20-yard-line.
Don Ellis, no novice when it comes to Spartan microphone work, continued to lend his voice with commentary to the evening’s scrimmage.
As the evening progressed, it became strikingly evident the 40-second play clock, new this season, was forcing both teams to pick up the tempo. Ellis pointed out, the 40 seconds to get plays in this season threatens more flags early on, but inevitably will give way to a faster-paced, action-filled game.
“We have some improvement to make before the first game,” Head Coach Kevin Miller pointed out following the scrimmage. “Overall, we did some good things on both sides of the ball. In fact, I witnessed some players improve throughout the scrimmage.”
He even welcomed the late change in venue and the opportunity to play at home.
“I’m glad we were able to scrimmage at home,” he elaborated. “With only four home games this season, it provided people the opportunity to watch that may not otherwise have the opportunity.”
With Jace Andregg, Cam Miller and A.J. Coons all pledging collegiate play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference- Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and South Dakota State commits, respectively, the media recently saddled the trio with lofty preseason expectations. The Des Moines Register’s Dargan Southard dubbed the trio one of the state’s most potent attacks and capable of erasing “the pain of last season’s first-round playoff drubbing” in a Aug. 21 article. Southard even went so far as to anoint the trio as capable of possibly “securing Solon’s first title since 2010…”
Coach Miller was quick to point out the burden was not on the trio or solely the Spartans’ aerial assault. The goal is to remain balanced.
“We hope to be balanced as much as possible,” he iterated. “We feel we have a number of skilled players that can make plays. Seamus Poynton is a capable running back that can also play slot receiver in the passing game.
“We need to be creative in providing ample opportunities for playmakers to touch the ball as much as possible,” Coach Miller elaborated. “We also believe rushing the football is essential to being an effective and successful offense.”
Coach Miller felt crunch time was looming.
“The team has prepared exceptionally well for three weeks,” he said. “However, come Friday we don’t have a choice, we need to be ready to compete.”
He did admit, it being son Cam’s senior season, this season carried a bit of importance.
“This season, I’m trying to take everything in stride,” he commented. “I need to remind myself this is Cam’s final year and I want the both of us to enjoy this unique experience.”
The Spartans open the season on the road Friday, Aug. 30, facing Highway 1 rival the Mount Vernon Mustangs with varsity kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon.
Friday, Sept. 6, the Spartans face West Liberty, at Spartan Stadium, for Armed Forces Night with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
A road visit to Marion, to face the Indians, at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 13, is the next stop on a road heavy schedule for the Spartans.
However, Coach Miller’s emphasis remains one game at a time.
“Mount Vernon will come out ready to play,” he stated. “We need to come out and do what we do and not get caught up in the emotion of the game.”
He added, “There’s no doubt this rivalry is one of the best in the state. I believe both programs and communities love this game and embrace the atmosphere the game will provide.”