In 2018, Smithville had a season to remember. They captured their first district title since 2001 and were one win away from playing for a Class 4 state championship.
The year 2019 has brought some turnover, as they have almost an entirely new defense, as well as a new quarterback, but the results have looked awfully similar so far.
The Warriors sit at 5-0 heading into their showdown with Platte County and in one of the more unique stories I’ve ever come across, they are led by a pair of twin brothers.
Spencer and Isaac Miller are the starting quarterback and running back, respectively, for the Warriors.
Sure, it’s not all the Miller twins that make the Warriors a well-oiled machine. They’ve got a strong offensive line and some nice playmakers at the wide receiver position but Spencer and Isaac are where it starts for the offense.
The duo had their fingerprints on nearly every yard the offense when I covered their 40-29 win over Grain Valley a few weeks ago, whether that was in the air or on the ground. I didn’t know what to expect from the Smithville offense when I arrived at Grain Valley, but I saw a group that knows what it’s good at.
Head coach Jason Ambroson described it as “not flashy or fancy” but that “it’s effective”. I loved that.
Spencer gets the wheels in motion. His ability to challenge the defense with his arm or his legs is key. The best part of his game is that he’s still learning and growing into the position. After playing quarterback at the junior varsity level as a freshman, he hasn’t played it since. He transitioned to wide receiver and defensive back his sophomore and junior seasons, so I would fully expect him to only get better as he gets more comfortable playing the position again.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s got a handful of weapons to help him out, including his brother. Isaac is the type of back that will punish a defense for 3 yards, then 4 yards, then 2 yards, and then he’ll bust one for 25 to the house. In fact, he did almost that exact thing Friday night on a crucial fourth-down play.
I was also impressed with the way the Warriors put their wide receivers in a position to be successful. Isaac was a threat out of the backfield at times, and the other receivers proved to be shifty and able to make defenders miss out in space.
Smithville doesn’t air the ball out like is the custom these days, not that Ambroson doesn’t trust Spencer to do so. But the quick hits to the outside and shorter passes over the middle were a nightmare for the Eagles.
It reminded me of watching the New England Patriots. While Tom Brady will throw down the field occasionally, what drives you nuts when your team plays them is that their receivers are constantly wide open on out patterns, short slants, throws out of the backfield. It takes a quarterback that can make quick, accurate throws, and receivers that run good routes.
In other words, it’s not flashy or fancy, but it sure is effective.