Eddie Miller was head coach of the Republic football team for 15 seasons. His teams won nine Central Ozark Conference championships and nine district championships. They advanced to six state quarterfinals and two state semifinals. The Tigers won or shared the Central Ozark Conference championship in every year of the 1980s, first under head coach Jim Chambers, then with Miller at the helm.
Miller came to Republic from Mountain View in 1975. He became defensive coordinator in 1976, after devising a plan to stop Bolivar’s high-scoring wishbone offense. He took over the head coaching job in 1983 when Chambers moved out of the area.
“We had a fan base and support group that really energized us,” Miller remembers. “We had good parents and some good athletes and good coaches.”
But all those wins and all those championships aren’t what Miller treasures the most from his coaching tenure. It’s the relationships he had, and still has, with his players and fellow coaches.
“I’m definitely a players’ coach. It means really being concerned about their life and what they’re going to do later on,” he says. “It’s not all about wins and losses. It’s about getting them to be successful.”
Linebacker Steve Forbis remembers the quiet calm that Miller exuded. “He’d talk in a nice, quiet voice, and that brought people in more than yelling, because you had to pay attention,” Forbis says. “It was a different coaching strategy. He was always just calm and cool.”
Players sometimes called him “Big E,” but just as often, it was “Easy E,” because he was so easy-going.
“We used to laugh because we’d call timeouts, and by the time he’d get out to the huddle to talk to us, the timeout would be almost over,” Todd Smith says. Under the laid-back surface, though, Smith says Miller wanted to win as much as any other coach.
“He was extremely competitive as a coach and demanded a lot of us as players, but he cared deeply for each and every one of us. When we had successes, he would revel in it, and when we had failures, he was the first one to take responsibility for it, like all coaches should,” Smith says.
Miller knew many of his players needed more than another coach in their lives. “I learned that a lot of [players] needed somebody that cared about them and somebody who would compliment them outside of the sport and tell them they’re doing well,” Miller says.
That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of huge Friday nights when Miller roamed the sidelines. There was an 11-6 state quarterfinal win over Carl Junction in 1982, when Miller’s defense shined. There was a game-winning run by Blake Cramer in a 1986 showdown against Bolivar. And there was an improbable comeback against Branson, when Republic scored 22 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes to win 36-35.
There were plenty of great players, too––including 22 All-State selections during Miller’s tenure. But every player, no matter how skilled, got Miller’s care and attention. “Head coaches are role models, and they played a big role in my life, and that’s the role I wanted to play,” Miller says.
To this day, if you ask his players, it’s a role he played well.
- COC Champions (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995)
- District Champions (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995)
- State Quarterfinals (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1995)
- State Semifinals (1985, 1986)
- Coached 21 all-state selections in 15 seasons.