SPENCER, W.Va. — Roane County High School football coach Paul Burdette is hoping to channel his players emotions toward a good performance Friday night when the Raiders take on Braxton County in their first game since the death two weeks ago of teammate Alex Miller.

Courtesy Photo

Alex Miller

Burdette told MetroNews Friday morning what he shared with his team during a meeting Thursday night.

“I want you guys to understand that those emotions need to drive you,” Burdette told his team. “They need to push you to be a better player.”

Miller, 17, collapsed and died between the first and second quarters of the Sept. 13 game at Clay County. Roane County had an open date last Friday night, Miller’s funeral took place Saturday at the school.

Burdette said the foundation of their football program has carried them through this tragedy.

“Our program’s built on love and we tell our guys that each day and our guys return that to us. So for us football is very important. We needed to be with our guys last week as much as they needed to be with us,” Burdette said Friday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Burdette said he has a feeling his kids will play their best game so far this season.

“I really do expect that. I believe the guys are in that type of mindset,” he said.

Roane County School Superintendent Richard Duncan said the county is still receiving support in connection with Miller’s death. He also expects a good performance Friday from the Raiders.

“It’s been quite a roller coaster but I think the mood is pretty positive at this point,” Duncan said.

There’s been so much response from other counties and states that some had to be turned away, Duncan said.

“It shows the scale of it, how many wanted to help us out and wanted to be there for our students. It was incredible,” Duncan said.

A large crowd is expected at Friday night’s game. Duncan agrees

“It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a home game and we’ve heard from other folks that they plan to attend,” Duncan said.