By LARRY HENRY JR.
Tom Maderia has had his share of successful quarterbacks in the past at Burlington Township High School, and senior Gage Miller is hoping to end his high school career in style this upcoming season as the latest Falcon signal caller to go out with a bang.
Miller heads into this season with the Falcons looking to bring home a West Jersey Football League Liberty Division title and a possible South Jersey Group 3 championship. The two-sport athlete remains one of the experienced offensive starters coming back for the Falcons and will be counted on to lead the way offensively.
“Training camp went great,” Miller told Glory Days Online in a preseason interview. “This is the opportunity to get to know everyone new and develop chemistry. We are taking it very seriously as preparation for the new season.
“My goals are to definitely win a championship. I believe with the team we have this year, that is obtainable, seeing how well we did in 2020.”
The Falcons, like every other New Jersey football program, had to overcome adversity in 2020, dealing with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Miller helped the Falcons register a 6-0 record before losing 51-31 to St. Joseph Academy of Hammonton in their final game.
Still, with all of the stress and worries that the pandemic caused, Miller was one of the leaders for Maderia’s squad, throwing for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns compared with only four interceptions. The Falcons registered 21 points or more in six of their seven games last year, and defensively they only allowed double-digit points in three games.
Miller’s calm, composed presence in the pocket should be an added bonus for the Falcons in a full eight-game regular season this fall.
“It’s very important to not rush into mistakes especially early in games,” Miller said. “Ball possession is key to a football game and it’s something I focus on a lot. Last season against Cinnaminson, we saw them hold onto the ball for a very long time and that’s why the score finished so close (14-7 in Burlington Township’s favor).
“Thankfully we didn’t lose that many players from last season. We lost a few offensive lineman and a few defensive players, but other than that, we have a lot of returning guys. I think it makes us that much more dangerous this season.”
Miller’s first opportunity to shine under the Friday Night Lights came Friday at home against Hamilton, and he didn’t disappoint. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons scored 16 points in the second quarter and 20 more in the third to dispatch Hamilton West, 43-6. The team will also face stern tests from the likes of Mainland, Moorestown, Shawnee and Timber Creek in regular-season play before potentially earning a spot in the state playoffs.
The Falcons will be one of the teams to keep an eye on in 2021, especially with the left-handed gunslinger at the helm for the second year in a row.
“It is very important to show how good our team is from Week 1,” Miller said. “We are going to be in a fight to win the championship this year and showing we are capable of doing that shows how strong we are as a team.
“It’s always one of our goals to start off strong and if we do that, then it should help set the tone for the rest of the season.”
Larry Henry coverage Burlington County sports for Glory Days Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @lhenry019