Small town legends vs big-time prospects: Waynesville’s Millar illustrates the debate


Waynesville’s Seth Millar already owns several school records, including rushing TDs (49). (Photo by Eric Frantz)

Sometimes the attention you get isn’t the kind you want. Just ask Waynesville’s Seth Millar. Heading into Friday night’s high school football games, there were
175 seniors in Ohio that had been offered – and 91 that had accepted –
scholarships by NCAA D-I and I-AA schools.
Millar isn’t one of them. The question is why?

Sometimes the attention you get isn’t the kind you want. Just ask Waynesville’s Seth Millar.

Heading into Friday night’s high school football games, there were 175 seniors in Ohio that had been offered – and 91 that had accepted – scholarships by NCAA D-I and I-AA schools. Millar isn’t one of them.

You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find 175 better high school football players in the state than the Spartans running back – let alone 91.

College recruiters still have questions about Millar. Opponents and record books don’t. They’ve been overwhelmed. And that’s the difference between high school football stars and big-time college prospects.

A kid talented enough to conquer history, just might not be big enough physically to make some. Millar, all 5-8, 170 pounds of him, would be the second player – ever – to get a scholarship to an NCAA D-I school from Waynesville. Will he do it? Will a school give him a shot?

It’s an eternal struggle that goes on at every small school football program in Ohio. Year after year. Players good enough to challenge as the best in their program’s history, yet not big enough to challenge for a prepaid roster spot on a D-I college team.

Millar is a prime example – but certainly not the only one that’s ever come along.

Entering his senior season at Waynesville, Millar already held several school records, including most rushing yards in a game (331) and season (1,856); most TDs in a game (six), season (24) and career (58); and longest TD run (95 yards). Barring injury he should end his career as Waynesville’s all-time leading rusher. If he has a season like he did last year, he’ll crush the record by over 400 yards. Last season Millar was named the SWBL Buckeye Division Back of the Year, first team Southwest District and the district’s offensive player of the year. He was honorable mention on the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team (regardless of division) and first team D-V All-Ohio according to the Associated Press.

Last week in a season-opening win over East Clinton, Millar touched the ball 10 times and scored five touchdowns. He carried the ball eight times for 132 yards and three TDs, caught one pass for 45 yards and a TD and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD. All that was before halftime, when he was benched.

As a team during Millar’s tenure, Waynesville last year captured its second ever Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title and won its first ever playoff game with a regional quarterfinal victory over West Liberty-Salem on its home field. The Spartans, who are seeking their third straight playoff appearance, lost to Marion Local in the regional semifinals.

Millar – and it’s an understatement – has made history.

Friday, though, he and his teammates failed to make more.

In the 46th annual “Battle for the Paddle” – the schools are on opposite sides of Caesar’s Creek Lake – Clarksville Clinton-Massie outlasted the Spartans 13-9. It was the fifth straight time the Falcons have beaten the Spartans. Unless the teams hook-up in the Division IV playoffs, that’s a box Millar will never get to check. No win over Clinton-Massie.

His tear-soaked face broadcasted everything afterwards.

“That’s probably the hardest loss I’ve been through as a football player,” Millar said. “That’s the one team that we’ve never beaten. I can’t remember the last time we beat them. The linebackers and defensive line did their job. For the most part they shut me down. They did their job.”

Against a Falcon defense that allowed 58 yards on 40 carries in a season opening win over Blanchester, Millar had 63 yards on 14 carries, including zero yards on just three – just three? – carries in the second half. He failed to reach the end zone – technically. A 25-yard TD run of Millar’s was wiped out at the end of the first half on a questionable holding call.

Regardless, no matter where Millar went – Massie defenders went – and with a vengeance. No one got hit harder than Millar Friday – and that includes cheap shots on the JJHuddle message boards.

A thread about the Waynesville-Massie game generated over 124 posts, a lot of which slammed Millar for being overrated and not as good as billed. After reading those posts I can say in good faith that the high school senior has far thicker skin than a lot of coaches in Ohio. Motivation? You bet ya. Just fuel to the fire.

“Yeah, I use that as motivation (throughout the week) but once kickoff starts that’s not what’s going through your mind,” Millar said. “At that point it’s just about doing your job and doing what it takes to help your team win.”

And Friday it was the little things that did in Waynesville.

“Alignment, fumbles, dropped passes,” Millar said. “It easily could have gone the other way. But they did their job. I guess I just didn’t have my best performance. All the credit goes to them.”

Millar deserves credit too – for what he’s already accomplished and is trying to.

The only Waynesville player ever to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship is Tim Williams. Williams, a kicker, played at Ohio State from 1990-93 and was first team All-Big Ten his senior season. While at Waynesville, Williams kicked a then-state record 57-yard field goal against Jamestown Greeneview in 1988 breaking the previous record of 55 set in 1971.

Fittingly, Millar’s legs are a big part of his game as well – and the thing that might just make him the city’s second D-I recruit.

Millar is fast – as in blazing.

No one can claim Millar hasn’t tried to get his name and desire out there. This summer he torched the combine circuit. In June and July he excelled at several regional combines – wining awards and opportunities to more elite events. The culmination was an appearance at a Top 100 national invite-only combine at the University of Oklahoma in July. Only 15 running backs nationally were invited – Millar was the only ball carrier from Ohio.

At the combine Millar ran a legit 4.4 40-yard dash. That’s fast. Real fast.

He also had a 34-inch vertical, 4.38 shuttle time and 9-6 broad jump. He benched 185 pounds 15 times.

Millar also participated in three 7-on-7 games and had 11 catches and four TDs. His team advanced to the championship game where it lost 20-14.

As a sophomore Millar qualified for the regional track meet in the 100, 200, 400 relay and 800 relay. This past spring he anchored the Spartans 800 relay team that placed seventh at the D-III state meet.

Speed – and respect – is something Millar has. It’s the college scholarship he’s missing. And he deserves one.

“We had to (focus on him),” Clinton-Massie head coach Dan McSurely said. “If you give (Millar) an inch he’ll take it the whole way. He’s that kind of back. I thought we shut down one of the top backs in Ohio tonight and that’s something our defense can be proud of.”

Said Millar: “It’s a long season. We’ve got eight weeks to go. You’ve got to forget about it and move on. Remove the doubt.”

Here’s rooting for the little guy – literally. Everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *