During the second half of Free State’s season opener, senior linebacker Bo Miller forced a fumble and watched his younger brother, Ben, scoop it up for a turnover.
It was the first time they shared the varsity field together and they ran toward the sideline celebrating their memorable debut.
“That was pretty surreal,” Bo Miller said.
In the following week, when Ben filled in at outside linebacker for senior Gage Foster, who missed a game with a hamstring injury, the two brothers combined on a sack together. When Bo stood up, he immediately hugged his brother.
Throughout the season, the Miller brothers have contributed to Free State’s defense, which has allowed the fourth-fewest points in Class 6A heading into the first round of the playoffs. The Firebirds will play host to Wichita North (0-8) at 7 p.m. tonight.
“I’m probably learning from the best two (outside linebackers) in the state,” said Ben, referring to his brother and Foster. “Playing with them is always fun.”
Once Foster returned to full strength, Ben has mostly spent his time on special teams and fills in when needed for in-game injuries.
But even when Ben, a sophomore, isn’t on the field, that doesn’t mean he’s not contributing in a big way to help his teammates.
“Definitely helped me because he doesn’t take it easy on me at all when he’s on the scout team,” said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Bo Miller. “Coach will be like, ‘Why don’t you go block No. 34, oh yeah, go block your brother.’ Early in the season, it kind of took a while to set in that my little brother was on the team.”
During games, the two brothers actually share cleats. When they were shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods, they both wanted a set of green cleats and white cleats, which they could use separately at home and away games.
Instead of buying four separate pairs of cleats, their mom suggested they could just wear one white cleat and one green cleat each. Ben wears the white cleat on his right foot, green on his left.
It’s just another way to celebrate their first year playing on the field together.
“It’s been pretty cool, you know,” Bo said. “We’ve been playing in the backyard and stuff growing up. He always played against me and my friends, so I’m sure that’s helped his game and stuff like that with fundamentals and everything.”
Adjusting to the varsity level, Ben, listed at 5-8, 150 pounds, said some of the advice he’s received from his older brother is to be physical. Even if he’s undersized, he makes up for it by staying low to the ground.
Bo said it’s “really hard to explain” his emotions of playing alongside his brother, but he’s been impressed how he’s handled everything this season.
“There’s a couple of times where he’ll make a good play or hustle down the field and I’m like, ‘That’s my brother.’” Bo said. “It’s cool.”
FSHS probable starters
LT — Turner Corcoran, so.
LG — Gabe Clark, sr.
C — Nathan Spain, sr.
RG — Shane Skwarlo, jr.
RT — Jalan Robinson, sr.
QB — Gage Foster, sr.
RB — Jax Dineen, jr.
H — L.J. Mack, jr.
WR — Tanner Cobb, sr.
WR — Jake Rittman, sr.
TE — Jack Theisen, sr.
K — Kameron Lake, jr.
P — Jake Rittman, sr.
DT — Lovette Epelle, so.
NT — Nathan Spain, sr.
DT — Spencer Roe, sr.
OLB — Bo Miller, sr.
ILB — David Johnson, sr.
ILB — Jalen Nash, jr.
OLB — Gage Foster, sr.
CB — Kwinton Lassiter, sr.
CB — Gabe del Valle, sr.
S — Malik Berry, so.
S — Keenan Garber, jr.