High School Football

‘This guy is going to be a good one.’ Modesto hires new football coach.

Modesto High School alum Dylan Miller has been named the new coach of the Panthers. Miller is pictured here in the front row on the right side during the 2004 season.
Modesto High School alum Dylan Miller has been named the new coach of the Panthers. Miller is pictured here in the front row on the right side during the 2004 season. Modesto Bee

Dylan Miller said he will happily take some time to reflect on being hired at his alma mater before Modesto High’s first football game against Clovis in late August.

“After that, you have to turn the page and coach a football game,” Miller said.

Miller, a 2006 graduate, was named the school’s head football coach on Tuesday. He will take over for Brett Wagner, who stepped down after two seasons last December.

“It’s a surreal kind of deal,” Miller said. “Being a former student, this has always been a special place to me and the reason I want to coach is from my experience at Modesto High. I am eager to get going.”

The 30-year-old, who played linebacker for the Panthers, said he was a quiet kid growing up and football helped him find “his path,” which took him to Modesto Junior College and Menlo College, where he was a two-year starter.

Said Miller, “Football kept me in school and it gave me self-confidence. It kind of what brought me to where I am now.”

A three-month search for a new coach started with in-district applicants before opening up the search to out-of-district applicants last week, Modesto High athletic director Donnie Wallace said.

Miller interviewed on March 12 and accepted the position on Thursday morning.

“I think it’s awesome having a guy that has been here and walked the hallways,” Wallace said.

Miller is a student-teacher on campus this semester and will be there in the fall as well, before “hopefully” getting hired in the district, Wallace said.

Miller worked under Sam Young and Rusty Stivers at MJC from 2009-2014, coaching inside linebackers.

“He is a grinder and an old-school football coach,” Stivers said. “He is detail-oriented, has a lot of charisma, and is someone you want your son to be coached by.”

After the 2014 season, Miller stopped coaching for a few years to earn his teaching credential before accepting a job on Roger Canepa’s staff at Central Catholic in 2018. At Central, he coached defensive ends, outside linebackers, and tight ends.

“There are not as many young coaches as when I first started and it’s hard to find guys with the passion for football,” Canepa said. “(Miller) is going to be a good one. Other coaches in the area saw the same thing.”

Senior linebacker D’Angelo Bellamy and defensive lineman Chris Mendoza both were named to the Valley Oak League first team and All-District team under the guidance of Miller.

“He has got the ‘It’ thing,” Canepa said. “To be a coach, you have to be real to kids, have energy and be positive, and have a good work ethic.”

Under Wagner, Modesto went 5-6 in 2018 and lost to Sheldon in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.

Miller is working on finalizing his coaching staff and has had former teammates showing interest in joining. Miller will be the team’s defensive coordinator as well.

“We want to excel at all things that involve effort,” he said. “This football team will work, fly around the field, and tackle. We will refuse to quit until it’s over. The scoreboard shouldn’t dictate effort.”

2018-19 Stanislaus District Football Coaching Changes

SchoolOutgoing CoachIncoming Coach
BeyerDoug SevereGreg Bockman
GregoriJason McCoyLamar Wallace
ModestoBrett WagnerDylan Miller
Modesto ChristianMike ParsonsRyan Green
PachecoDavid SnappJeremy Siemiller
Ripon ChristianTrey OzenbaughRandy Fasani

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.