High School Football

First-year Modesto coach wants his team to be physical and make teams remember them.

Follow new Modesto High coach at practice

Modesto High School coach Dylan Miller begins his first year at his alma mater.
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Modesto High School coach Dylan Miller begins his first year at his alma mater.

It’s hard for Dylan Miller to take a break.

Miller is running around to every station during drills before working with linebackers and defensive backs in the individual portion at a recent Modesto High football practice.

For the 30-year old alum and first-year coach, every day since he was named the Panthers coach on March 19 has been a dream.

“It’s easy to come to work excited,” Miller said. “This is my life and to be a coach for the first time at Modesto and try to bring kids the experience I had, it’s pretty special.”

Miller, who took over for Brett Wagner, who resigned after two seasons in December, said his passion for coaching comes from his genuine love of the game.

“It’s a beautiful day and there aren’t any reasons why I shouldn’t be engaged and full of energy,” said Miller, who coached defensive ends, outside linebackers, and tight ends at Central Catholic last year. “I hope they feed on that and just see how passionate I am.”

Miller’s first varsity job isn’t an easy one as he is tasked with hopefully extending the Panthers’ playoff streak to seven years while competing in the tough Central California Athletic League.

The Panthers will be a “junior-laden” team as they will have to replace Jaquile Ingram, who was the CCAL’s Special Teams MVP in 2018 and a All-District honoree.

However, Modesto has two seniors who will be leaders in senior athlete Alonzo Rodriguez and senior offensive and defensive lineman Gerardo Sandoval.

Miller said Rodriguez, who played quarterback for the Panthers last year, can do a little bit of everything while Sandoval hasn’t missed a weight room workout since April, when the team started lifting.

“He (Sandoval) is starting to move some guys,” Miller said.

Miller said it’s too early to tell whether the offense or defense will be stronger but he wants his team to be physical.

“We want teams to wake up the next day after playing us and have to stretch a little extra or grab some ice,” Miller said.

With a lot of responsibilities as a first-year coach, Miller said he has reached out to various coaches in the area with questions, including Central Catholic’s Roger Canepa and Modesto Junior College’s Rusty Stivers.

“I appreciate the courtesy from local coaches and I am also leaning on the ones I know and came up with,” he said.


School: Modesto

Record: 5-6, 1-4 in Central California Athletic League

Players to Watch: Junior running back James Hayes, Senior athlete Alonzo Rodriguez, Senior offensive and defensive lineman Gerardo Sandoval

Biggest Game: Nov. 1 at Downey

Something special about school: Most of the coaches on the current staff played at Modesto High.

Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost to Sheldon in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I First Round 2017: Lost to Jesuit in Div. I First Round 2016: Lost to St. Mary’s in Div. I First Round 2015: Lost to Merced in Div. I First Round 2014: Lost to Franklin in Div. I First Round

Season Schedule:


24Clovis7 p.m.
30at Beyer7 p.m.

6Bye Week

13Patterson7 p.m.
20Franklin7:15 p.m.
27at Stagg


4Gregori7 p.m.
11at Turlock7 p.m.
18at Pitman7 p.m.
25Enochs7 p.m.

1at Downey 7 p.m.
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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.