6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Small in Stature….But In Essence, Larger Than Life!

I am certain by now everyone across the state has heard about the tragic death of young Mr. Alex Miller, a split end/defensive back for the Raiders of Roane County!  If you visit the WVSSAC website and check out the football roster for Roane County, you will find this stat line for Alex:

80SE/DBAlexander Miller125’8140

According to the above information, Alex Miller wore uniform #80…..played Split End and Defensive Back…..was a Senior…..and stood 5’8 and weighed 140 pounds!  Certainly not a monster in size on the gridiron, however the above stat line does not measure the size of the man contained in that 5’8, 140 pound frame.

Last Friday night, the football game between Roane County and Clay County was progressing smoothly, just the way a high school football game under the Friday night lights should.  At the end of the 1st quarter, both teams reported to their sidelines and it was at that moment,tragedy struck the Raiders!

Alex Miller’s best friend and teammate, Layne Epling, who was injured and didn’t play, was by Alex’s side when Miller complained of dizziness.

“He said he was dizzy and the trainer made him lie down and told me to talk to him. I started asking him questions and he knew the day, the month, and where he was, but then he stopped breathing and his eyes rolled back,” said a stunned Epling.

EMS was immediately called to the sideline and frantically worked to save his life. Their efforts however were ultimately unsuccessful.

This past Saturday, friends gathered at Roane County Stadium to comfort one another and try and come to grips with why something like this had to happen to such an outstanding young man.

“He was just a great guy,” Epling added fighting back tears. “He was my best friend. He was the brother I never had. We hung out every day and there was rarely a day you’d catch me without him.”

When asked by MetroNews to share a little about the young man lost, Assistant Coach John Gray offered some of the highest praise.

“Outstanding kid, first class, great student, great character, the kind of kid you would want to call your son,” said Gray.

Each Monday morning throughout the high school football season, I write this commentary for our website.  Certainly writing and talking about high school football is something I love….something that comes so naturally.  But on this Monday morning, as I sit at my computer, the words have been tough to find.  Had it not been for the wonderful article written by MetroNews Anchor Chris Lawrence, of which I have helped myself to several thoughts and quotes for this commentary, I am confident this week’s writing would have been much shorter.  The reason why is death is so hard to understand….and certainly it’s even more difficult when death touches such a young life!  We all want to know “why”, yet that can seldom be explained.  However, I do know this….God does not make mistakes!!  While the present sting of death is so painful for Alex Miller’s family, friends and teammates, we must rely on the promise that one day this will all be explained!

I just spoke to school personnel at Roane County High and as of this writing, arrangements for Alex have not yet been made.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Miller family and I hope they can find comfort in this very trying time. We all have to remember the good times…and, I am certain with Alex, there were many!  I am also praying for Roane County Head Football Coach Paul Burdette and his staff and their football team…….Alex Miller will definitely be missed…..but I am confident at the very next football game for Roane County…..if they close their eyes for just a moment….they will hear Alex and all the rest of us yelling…..GO RAIDERS!

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