October 3, 2012
Section wins leader Max Miller returns to Rio Americano

Max Miller was on a golf course in Truckee Wednesday morning when he received a call from Rio Americano High School principal Brian Ginter.

Would Miller, the Sac-Joaquin Section's career football wins leader who had gotten his area start years before at the school, be willing to come out of retirement and coach a beleaguered Raiders football program?

Less than 24 hours earlier, Ginter had fired Raiders coach Christian Mahaffey, who opposed Ginter's reinstatement of 11 protesting seniors who had left the team in support of a teammate forced off the team because of a conflict with an upcoming baseball showcase.

Before the day was out, the 72-year-old Miller had met with Ginter, cobbled together a new five-man staff, greeted the players, held a practice and introduced himself to the parents.

But before it all transpired, he made sure to reach out to the embattled Mahaffey to get his blessing.

"I wanted to let him know that I supported his stance, and why I was doing this," said Miller, who has coached 28 years and has 254 wins. "I coached at Rio Americano (1974-80), I was athletic director, my grandson is playing, I know these kids, and they need some help."

They also need a fresh start, which Miller offered as the Raiders prepare to play their Capital Athletic League opener on Friday at Cordova, the school where Miller attained his greatest renown.

"We made sure everybody understands our suspensions are intact," Miller said of the penalty for "insubordination" assessed by Ginter to those who left the team. "They'll sit out the first halves of the next two games, then it's over with."

Team captain Jordan Vinson said the players are united again.

"Everyone's on board, everyone's together, we're stronger than ever," said Vinson, one of two seniors who stayed with the team. "I was upset yesterday because of the coaches we lost, and I felt the program was in jeopardy. But now everyone's excited. We've heard great things about Coach Miller."

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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