A Tiger to Remember....Dirk Miller
Thursday, 06 September 2012 by David Tuma
What makes Belton unique is how many graduates of Belton High School still reside in the town. There are many, many former Tigers football player who still live here and still go to the games.
Football in rural Texas is so unique. The big name football programs dominate the headlines but those small towns in Texas that play is off the charts in terms of support and intensity. Belton has qualified for the playoffs 29 times and the top 10 in 5A is 33 with Garland, Converse Judson and Lufkin tied at 33 appearances.
There is pride in Belton and Wilson-Kerzee Field was a tough a place as you can find. With no track, the stands were right on the field. The fence around the field was lined with fans in a bowl-like atmosphere.
One of those players from early 1980's was Dirk Miller. Who has lived in Belton for more than four decades. Miller played on varsity for three year's and was second team all-district on the 1983 team. Miller is a life long-friend of Brett Stafford one of the greatest quarterbacks to every play for Belton.
The big rivals back then were Westlake, Georgetown and Midway. "When we played the crowd up in the stands would go crazy, it made the hair on your arms stand up. That is what high school football is about. Westlake was the rich district. Every year I was on varsity we hit people. I lived football and as a kid growing up I slept with a helmet on," said Miller.
Dick Stafford came to coach Belton and brought in a new offensive system and the Tigers made the playoffs Dirk's senior season. Twice during his time at Belton the Tigers were ranked in the AP top 10..
"We lost to Cameron before the start of district play my senior year. They grew the grass extra tall to slow down Brett. Belton was a lot smaller back then but everybody was there at the games. At Old Tiger Field they just lined up around the stadium fence that lined the field. Nobody left at half time or at any time during the game. My dearest memories of high school involved football," said Miller.
Back then many of the coaches grew up playing in the 1950s and were coaching in the 1980s and it was Texas tough in practice. "Two-a-days were brutal. We used to have this huge hill by the practice field and I remember me and Ritchie Crowell having to lug each other up that hill and he turns to me and says, 'He wasn't sure he was going to make it.' That was back in the day when it meant something if you got a cup of Gatorade," said Miller.
The interview was done in a conference room overlooking Tiger Field. Miller's eyes told everything you would want to know about what Belton Tiger football meant to him. It was everything at once, the town, his life long friends Stafford and Crowell and everything he went through and his home that is Belton.
"Football today is different. They can turn a good player into a great player. What they get out of players is amazing. Back in my day we were the first class to move into the new field house. We had a workout machine and a few bench presses and we were in high cotton. I was an average player who got to play with some great players. I have stayed friends with my football players on those teams. Many of us have lived here our whole lives," said Miller.
He worked with his father at Amilco Masonary and Fireplace for years before opening up Miller's BBQ. An award winning eating establishment. He married his wonderful wife Lisa in 1985 and they have three children Dusty, Dylon and Sam.
Belton has changed and with it the surrounding area. "If feel comfortable here. I love this town and it has been good to me. The biggest deal to me is going into HEB and not knowing everybody like I used to when I was growing up here. I still feel safe in Belton. When I played football for Belton it was just everything together. I do not know the current players but I would love to know if they feel the same way I did when I played. I would have died playing football for Belton."
"It is a gladiator sport. If you are winning everybody wants to play. It takes heart to play football. I used to love to watch Adam Warehime play linebacker. He was one of those Bill Bates types of players. Winning Bi-district over C.C. King was one of the favorite memories of my life," said Miller.
The sport is so different because of what it takes from a time standpoint and how physical it is on a field. You represent your entire town when you walk out on a field and play football in Texas. The smaller the town the more amplified those emotions are.
We went over the scrapbook his mother saved and still has during his playing days and words don't do justice to what his days as a Tiger truly meant to him.