Max Miller played high school football at Bryan Station for just one season.
He played as a freshman for the Defenders in 2018, a campaign that saw Bryan Station win his first tournament in the 42nd District and get to the 11th Region tournament for the first time, driven by a young core of players.
But Miller missed the rest of his high school career for a chance to join the FC Cincinnati Academy and receive daily instruction under the tutelage of a Major League Soccer franchise.
Miller has been with the FC Cincinnati Academy since the summer of 2019 and just played for the Academy in Chicago last weekend while he was still a Bryan Station student.
But on Monday night, Miller sat alongside some of his Bryan Station freshman teammates in the high school auditorium as the quartet signed their official letters of intent to play college football.
“This is just a day to celebrate,” said Miller, who will be playing in Kentucky. “What won me over (UK) was that they were by my side throughout the recruitment process, they had real confidence in me… it’s just important to represent my hometown.”
In 2019, after joining the FC Cincinnati Academy, Miller – then a sophomore of high school – told the Herald leader it was an easy decision to join the MLS club’s youth team.
“I’ll improve so much better when I play at FC Cincinnati,” Miller said in 2019. “It’s better than I thought. “It’s super professional: top training facilities, everything top, top coaching staff.”
Despite only playing a year at Bryan Station, Miller took time out during Monday’s signing ceremony to express his gratitude to the school and to Bryan Station head coach Manes Preptit.
“Even though I’ve only played here for a year, all the students are here, all the people are my family,” Miller said. “Station, the people I’ve met here have really helped shape me and shaped me into how I live my life today.”
“We’re a big family. Even if he decides to play somewhere else, he’s still a part of that family. We have a saying, ‘Once a defender, always a defender,'” Preptit added of Miller’s journey into college football .
Miller, who has been involved with Kentucky for about a year, said the jump from Bryan Station to FC Cincinnati Academy was “100 percent worth it.”
“Anything football-related, I’ve learned so much up there: how the game is supposed to be played, there’s better competition, so it pushes me more,” Miller said. “You have to be extremely disciplined to just go up there every day, give 100 percent and then come back and maybe do schoolwork and juggle family life. The discipline required to do that really helped me focus.”
Other Bryan Station signers
Along with Miller, Evan Amend, Mario Fuentes and Steven Mahirwe signed their letter of intent to play college football Monday night in the Bryan Station auditorium.
Amend — who has played for Preptit since seventh grade and was the team captain at Bryan Station for two straight years — signed to play at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
Fuentes signed to play at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.
“He’s just a workhorse, he can play anywhere on the pitch for us,” Preptit said of Fuentes. “He scores goals as a defender, a very versatile player.”
Mahirwe signed to play at Midway University, which only started its men’s soccer program in June 2016.
All four Bryan Station players who signed Monday were freshmen who played at varsity on the Bryan Station team that won the school’s first 42nd District tournament in 2018.
“I don’t think more than one or two[players]signed up for college in a year,” Preptit said. “But it’s great that all four are signing and elevating the Bryan Station name.”
What did these four players mean to Preptit and the Bryan Station program?
“We were a lucky team when we finished the game with no mercy. We were hit from left and right,” said Preptit, who started the 2013 season as Bryan Station’s head coach. “These guys came, they wanted to play, they wanted to compete and they wanted to compete at a high level… We’ve come a long way from a team that everyone wants to play to a team that people fear for the right reasons.”