School: Olathe East
Heading into his senior season Derek Miller had one thing on his mind—a state championship. Miller had been a two year starter at quarterback for Olathe East, and he had a career record of 19-2, but that wasn’t nearly enough. In fact the most memorable moments for Olathe East during the 2003 and 2004 seasons were playoff upsets. In 2003 Olathe East was the heavy favorite to win their first ever state title when they were upset by Blue Valley North in the Sectional Round of the playoffs. In 2004 Olathe East was once again the favorite in 6A, but they ran into a hot SM West team and produced a goose egg in the score column, losing 21-0 in the Sectional Round of the playoffs once again.
If redemption was going to happen for Miller and Co., it was going to be in 2005. The unquestioned star of the team, Miller was Olathe East’s starting quarterback, safety, kicker, and punter for the 2005 season. Never leaving the field didn’t seem to bother the seasoned Miller—he seemed to thrive on terrorizing opponents from his various positions.
Miller helped Olathe East to a 9-0 regular season, his second undefeated regular season as the starting quarterback. The 6A playoffs began for Olathe East against SM South. The next three games proved to be arguably the best three of Miller’s career.
In the Regional Round of the playoffs Miller looked flawless, throwing three touchdown passes in a 40-18 defeat of SM South. In the Sectional Round of the playoffs Miller help avenge his team’s worst defeat of 2004, beating SM West 37-7. In that game Miller ran for three scores, and made a timely interception on defense. In the Sub-State matchup with Lawrence High, Miller led Olathe East to a second half comeback to claim a 22-18 victory. His two touchdown passes were enough to overcome the Chesty Lions.
With a 6A title game set against Hutchinson, it appeared Miller would finally claim his ever elusive state championship ring. Unfortunately for Miller and the Hawks the hot streak didn’t continue. Olathe East lost its only game of the 2005 season 24-7 at the hands of Hutchinson. Miller had his worst game of the year throwing four interceptions (equal to the amount he had thrown in the previous 12 games).
The lost prevented Miller from tagging a state championship, but it didn’t tarnish the successes he had claimed. During the 2005 season he threw 21 touchdown passes, rushed for five, and passed for over 2,000 yards. Defensively Miller recorded 82 tackles and intercepted four passes. Miller was named First Team All-State Class 6A, KC Metro Sports All-Purpose Player of the Year, in addition to being a finalist for the Simone Award. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Miller’s career was his 31-4 record as a starting quarterback. The 31 wins were 10 more than any other quarterback achieved during the 2000s in the Sunflower League.