Texas’s Rockdale High School came from 21 points down to defeat Brock in the Class 3A Division I title game Thursday night, and that wasn’t even close to the best moment of the evening.
"Everybody in this community knows how special this moment is"
On the final play of the game coach Jeff Miller put in his son, Gunner Miller to handle the snap. Gunner was a player on #Rockdale before a bout with cancer forced him out.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) December 22, 2017
Gunner Miller, son of coach Jeff Miller, ran onto the field to take the final snap, in a fitting and joyous end to what had been a painful few years for the Miller family. It was Gunner’s first time on the football field in years, the first time since he’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
Gunner, a senior at Rockdale, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer found most often in teenage males. He spent most of 2015 fighting the cancer, undergoing treatment and rehab, and in August doctors removed the tumor and deemed Miller in remission. But he wasn’t able to resume football until Thursday night.
“It wasn’t even my idea. It was his teammates’ idea,” Jeff Miller said, according to the Temple Daily Telegram. “They came up to me and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to do this?’ They didn’t have to ask me twice.”
The game certainly didn’t look headed in Rockdale’s direction in the opening minutes. Just 13 minutes into the game, Brock had piled up a 21-0 lead. But Rockdale began hacking away, scoring four times in seven minutes to head into halftime up 28-21. The final score was 45-29, and Gunner Miller could take that knee to clinch the victory, Rockdale’s first state title since 1976.
“We’ve dealt with adversity for so long and so often that we know a football game, a football season and life are going to be rough on you sometimes,” Jeff Miller said. “Everything these kids have gone through off the field showed today, because you could see how hard they played.”
The Rockdale Tigers now have a state title. The Miller family has that, and so much more.