It can be hard to imagine Brent Miller as a little guy considering he was 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds during his playing days.
But there he was, peering through the chain-linked fence at Thunder Stadium, watching Bobby Wade and John Rattay pushing the Desert Vista offense to record-breaking levels in the late 1990s.
It served as inspiration when Brent, and his younger brother, Zach, eventually donned the Navy blue and Vegas gold for the Thunder.
Now they will get to be on the same team, along with baseball slugger Corey Myers, as Desert Vista inducts its first Hall of Fame class on Oct. 19 when the Thunder take on Dobson.
“I remember watching those other guys play and getting excited about playing for Desert Vista so the whole thing has come full circle for me,” said Brent, who has returned to the school as a teacher and varsity assistant coach. “It’s been a lot of fun to come back and be part of the program again.”
The first class is fitting but wasn’t easy to come by considering all of the success for individuals and teams since the school opened in 1996.
“We’ve been working on this the past five years to make sure we have done it right,” principal Dr. Anna Battle said. “We knew we have had wonderful people who brought great character come through Desert Vista. It’s nice to start the tradition with this wonderful class.”
This is pretty much the Mount Rushmore of Desert Vista athletics as they set Arizona records as individuals, brought state titles to the school and went on to the college/professional ranks with varying degrees of success.
“Some special people have come out of Desert Vista and it is time to start recognizing them,” Desert Vista athletic director TJ Snyder said. “We are starting with a sports (induction) class and we will start looking at faculty and students as well.
“We’ve been talking about it the last few years and we felt like it was the right time.”
The ceremony will include a dinner before the unveiling of the inductee plaques, which will be on display in the gym lobby. The honorees will receive a hall of fame ring and be recognized during the homecoming ceremony.
Here is a quick look at the accomplishments of each inductee:
Set two 5A records in 1998 with 41 touchdowns and 246 points and as a senior was named the USAToday national high school football player of the year. He went on to catch 200 passes for 2,897 yards and 19 touchdowns for Arizona. In the NFL, the fifth-round pick by Chicago finished with 244 catches for 2,858 yards and nine touchdowns in eight seasons for five teams.
The son of legendary coach, Jim, was the perfect gunslinger in the wide open offense that help the school to the 1998 state title, He set the 5A state record for career passing yards as he collected 7,089 yards in three seasons (1997-99). He signed a letter of intent with Tennessee but didn’t stay long as he transferred to Arizona, but never found his footing at the college level.
The 2003 graduate was rated as the fifth best player in Arizona. He was a versatile player who saw time at linebacker, quarterback, fullback, tight end, wide receiver and a return specialist during his time with the Thunder. He was named first All-Arizona before singing with Arizona State where he caught 43 passes for 526 yards and five touchdowns during his career as a tight end. Signed with the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent but was cut before the season started.
The 2004 graduate was a unanimous selection as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation and was named a first-team All-American tight end by Rydell and USAToday. Over his final two seasons with the Thunder, he had 74 catches for 1,310 yards and 12 touchdowns along with 22 sacks and 235 tackles. Went on to be an All-American at Arizona State where he had 144 catches for 1,512 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons. He enters his sixth year in the NFL and first with Jacksonville with 251 catches for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The 1999 graduate ended his high school career with accolades and state records as he was named the Arizona high school player of the year in 1999 while helping the Thunder to the 5A state title. He set state high school records for single-season home runs (22), hits (70), runs (70), RBI (81), career home runs (43), career runs (144) and career RBI (182). It led to being drafted in the first round, fourth overall, by the Diamondbacks and he played in the minor leagues, getting as high as Triple-A, before retiring in 2007.
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