Storm Miller got a slower start to this season than he would have liked.
Some of that was to be expected for the Mason High School senior, who missed offseason activities while battling a rare cancer.
Things got better as Miller gradually worked his way back into form. And the linebacker/fullback put together a big season to drive the Bulldogs to a successful season.
Miller registered 125 tackles this fall while becoming the all-time tackles leader in Mason history. And he is part of the Associated Press Division 3-4 all-state football team.
“I’ve always loved playing (linebacker) because you’re the leader of the defense and you’ve got to make sure everyone is doing their job,” Miller said. “At the end of the day it all comes down to the linebackers because they have to make the play no matter where it is on the field.”
►Related: Cancer behind him, Mason senior back on football field
Miller made plenty of plays, concluding his career with a varsity record 309 tackles. Bulldog coach Jerry VanHavel described him as a complete package player and the best fullback/linebacker he has coached in his 29 seasons at Mason.
“After what happened in the offseason this year, I really cherished being on the field every Friday and every practice,” Miller said. “If I was going to be out there, I realized I had to give it my all every single time. I think that translated to my play and how I had such a great season.”
Miller was one of three Lansing area players to earn first team Division 3-4 all-state honors and was joined on the squad by Williamston do-it-all senior Sy Barnett and Lakewood lineman Dane Stambaugh. Barnett had 833 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, ran for 256 yards and three scores and excelled as Williamston’s place kicker.
Stambaugh, who will play in the Blue/Grey All-American Bowl next month, was the leading blocker for the Vikings, who ran for more than 3,300 yards.
Lakewood coach Nick Boucher, who guided the Vikings to their first playoff win and district title in school history, was tabbed the Division 3-4 coach of the year. The Vikings, who went 0-9 in 2013, finished 10-2 and won a second straight GLAC title this fall.
DeWitt specialist JD Ross was tabbed second team all-state at running back, while Corunna lineman Cooper Clapp, Alma linebacker Ryan Cornejo, East Lansing defensive back Darian Holbrook and East Lansing junior punter Connor Charamella also earned second team honors.
Ross was the top player for DeWitt, which spent most of its season ranked in the top 10 in Division 3. He ran for 1,043 yards and had 16 touchdowns, had 473 receiving yards and six scores and also had a pair of interceptions in 10 games.
Clapp, who is committed to Ferris State, paved the way on the offensive line to help Corunna break several school rushing records on its way to a district title.
Cornejo fueled one of the best defenses in school history for Alma from his linebacker spot, registering 136 tackles, 17 for loss and an interception.
Charamella averaged 38.7 yards on his punts for the Trojans and had 16 downed inside the 20-yard line and seven inside the 10. Holbrook had seven interceptions and nine pass breakups for East Lansing and also was its lead running back with 607 yards and 10 touchdowns.
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