Anterio Miller made the most of his one night on the field
We’re all looking for a little jolt of inspiration right now, aren’t we?
Tired of wearing a mask. Tired of political bickering. Tired of 2020.
Friday morning Wesson head football coach Jeremy Loy posted an inspiring story via Facebook that has now been shared 321 times and garnered nearly 800 likes, loves, thumbs up and hugging heart emojis.
In what is most likely the longest post he’s ever typed, Loy tells about the game that his senior wide receiver Anterio Miller had Thursday night against Bogue Chitto.
“I just got up and cried”
Miller has had a whole heap of pain piled onto him over the last six months.
In March, during the earliest days of the pandemic, Miller, his younger brother Jakerio and Dekerion Jackson were involved in a single-car wreck on Jackson-Liberty Drive.
The accident took the life of 16-year old Jakerio.
Anterio was badly injured as well. His broken ankle required a plate. A rod was inserted in his thigh.
His broken body couldn’t even compare to the emotional wounds that came from losing his brother and best friend.
Rehab was needed and Anterio was with his team every step of the way as they fought against COVID-19 in order to play this season.
That’s something that Loy knew about his team — they needed to be together in order to heal and mourn the loss of their teammate.
The idea of not having football in 2020 made him sick with worry.
“After the funeral, everyone just kind of went their own way,” said Loy. “When we were finally able to get them together for team workouts in the summer, we had the highest participation rate since I’ve been here. They needed to be together so they could get through this with each other.”
A stronger and healed Anterio recently went to the doctor, hoping to get medically cleared so he could begin playing his senior season.
The prognosis was one that he never saw coming — a torn ACL and meniscus from the wreck that had previously been missed.
Surgery would be required.
“When they told me that I’d need another surgery, I just got up and cried,” said Miller. “All I wanted was to be out there with my brothers.”
His first instinct was to play on the injured knee. He’d not experienced pain in it previously, but after talking things over with his mother and medical professionals, the decision was made to schedule surgery for Friday, Oct. 9.
“Dang right, you are”
In his social media post, Loy laid out the issues that Miller had overcome.
He then explains that with Hurricane Delta strengthening in the Gulf the decision was made early in the week to move the game against Bogue Chitto up, to Thursday, Oct. 8.
When he told Miller the news, Anterio’s reply was, “I’m playing.”
And before he could think about liability or feasibility or any other obstacle to the plan, his coach blurted back, “Dang right, you are.”
Thursday night came and the games that had been moved up around the area to beat wet weather were played in driving rainstorms.
Lightning delayed the start of Wesson at Bogue Chitto.
Loy and BC head coach Gareth Sartin talked about postponing until Saturday or Sunday.
The bad weather cleared though in an almost divine way.
Anterio caught a pass for 8-yards early on and if that would have been the end, it would have still been a pretty cool story.
He wasn’t done, though.
Early in the second quarter, with Wesson leading 22-0, Miller lined up wide in a trips-right formation for the Cobra offense.
Wesson quarterback Will Loy took the shotgun snap and looked like he was going to throw a screen. The BC defenders followed his eyes, not seeing Miller running a go-route on the outside.
Loy lofted a pass that Miller caught 15-yards up field on the 35-yard line.
The senior receiver tucked his head down to his chest and pumped his arms while he ran. Three times Miller looked back at a trio of Bobcat defenders that are closing in on him.
His steps were short and quick though and there may have been a slight limp in his gait — but he wasn’t going to be caught.
The play covered 80-yards. As soon as Anterio crossed the goal line, he hits his knees.
“I was just thinking about my brother,” said Miller. “When I caught it, I knew they weren’t going to catch me — I was just doing it for my brother.”
“He was my younger brother, but acted like he was older than me”
In the preseason football magazine that The Daily Leader publishes every year, there was an article about Jakerio Miller in the 2020 edition of The Gridirion.
His coaches and teammates called him a difference maker — on and off the field.
A smile that could light up a room, he was the type of person who drew people to him.
On the field he was a game changer as a safety. The Wesson coaches could build their defense around him each week. Whatever the opposing team did well, they’d figure out a way for Jakerio to stop that.
Wide receiver Antrelle Sims is one of the unquestioned senior leaders on the Wesson team. He talked at the time about how he looked up to the younger Jakerio.
Loy and his assistant coaches praised the way Jakerio would help supervise the locker room, making sure everyone was focused ahead of games and practices.
When Anterio talks about his brother, you can hear the love and respect mixing as emotions cloud his voice.
“He was my younger brother, but he acted like he was older than me,” said Anterio. “The best way I can describe it is you only had to tell him something once. He was always listening and wanting to do what he’d been told.”
Anterio is at home now, resting his surgically repaired knee and hoping to get back to school next week.
Even through the pain dealt his way over the least six months, Anterio is grateful that the stars aligned Thursday night and allowed him to see the field.
“I needed to get out there for at least one game,” said Anterio. “I never expected to score, but I wanted one chance to get on the field with my team. The team is like a bunch of brothers and without them I wouldn’t be able to get through all this.”
Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.