Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Ted Miller had been coaching his kids in soccer since his oldest daughter was in kindergarten.
So, when his son Peyton Miller began to lose interest in the sport in junior high because West Branch didn’t have a high school program the elder Miller knew he had to do something.
He was in sixth grade and one summer I asked him if he wanted to go to soccer camp and he said ‘no I can’t play in high school so I’m not going to play’,” Ted Miller explained. “His response was the reason that I said I have to do something.”
Fast forward five years and the West Branch soccer team is off to a 3-0 start in just its third year as a program (minus last year’s pandemic-cancelled season) and Peyton Miller is in the middle of a scoring explosion that neither he or his father have ever seen.
Miller has scored five goals in back-to-back matches and is tied for 10th in the state in goals this season with 13.
“To be honest I’ve kind of be asking myself how I’ve done it too,” Peyton Miller said. “I need to look back and film to see what I’ve been doing because whatever it is I need to keep doing it.”
Miller had a strong start to his career two seasons ago, leading West Branch with seven goals and six assists as a freshman as the Bears went a respectable 7-5 in their first varsity season.
After missing last season due to the global coronavirus pandemic Miller has been electric in the final third this season converting goals at an eye-popping pace.
“When you are coming into high school at 14 or 15 years old and going against 18 year old guys that’s a big difference,” Miller said. “Now I’m 17 and it’s a mindset thing where I don’t have that excuse that guys are a few years older than me.”
Miller scored three goals in a season-opening 4-0 win over Cedar Valley Christian.
He followed with a career-high five goals in an 8-1 win over Anamosa and back that up with another five-goal performance in a 7-1 win over Bellevue Marquette last week.
The junior forward has added three assists this season, accounting directly for 16 of the Bears’ 19 goals.
“I’m just in awe,” Ted Miller said. “I don’t know how he’s gotten so good in these past two years.”
The younger Miller is quick to note he has gotten plenty of help during his scoring spree.
West Branch has added a collection of multi-sport athletes to its roster this season and the Bears are finding the speedy Miller in space allowing him to create scoring opportunities.
Seven different West Branch players have an assist this season and four Bears (Cameron Gingerich, Kelby Burger and Luis Hinkhouse) all have multiple assists.
“My teammates are definitely my main source of success,” Miller said. “If it wasn’t for them trusting me to go get those balls and trusting my speed and trusting my touches I would not have this many goals right now.”
For a program that was founded on the premise of having fun the Millers are enjoying the opportunity to play after a year away.
And relishing the type of scoring streak that few players ever enjoy.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Ted Miller said. “He’s just a fast, super athletic kid and has good foot-eye coordination. He is so confident, his confidence level is just through the roof.”