Commentary: Mills Is Leading The Generals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Dec 12, 2013, 21:51
DINWIDDIE — Nine years ago, Billy Mills walked into an interview room and spoke about a vision of turning the Generals into a perennial state championship contender, making it a team-goal rather than a pipe dream.
It was an odd proclamation to make considering where the Dinwiddie program was following the 2004 campaign. Following a a state championship appearance in 2000, a game the Generals would lose by 38 points, the program could not remain elevated to the heightened standards.
Instead of contending for state titles, the team contended to avoid finishing in last place for four consecutive years. The administration knew it needed a change and Mills fit their idea of a coach who can lead their program out of the darkness.
At Rockbridge Country High School, Mills compiled a record of 32-20 which included two playoff appearances and one district championship. However, while 12 games above .500 does not seem as impressive, it was his teams' record-breaking ability which was.
Rockbrige broke 83 of 94 possible school records for football, highlighting the type of coach Mills could be. But even with all of his success, Mills said the Dinwiddie administration thought he was crazy when he discussed the type of success he envisioned having as the Generals head coach.
"I told them we were going to win a state championship," Mills said of his interview. "Some of them looked at me like, 'coach, we have won four games in five years.' We chipped away a little bit. Those guys behind me (2008 team) made everyone believers. Now it's time for us to burst through the door."
It would be hard to doubt Mills after what he's accomplished in eight years at Dinwiddie. The numbers speaks for themselves.
Prior to his arrival, the Generals compiled a 4-35 record. Since that time, Dinwiddie has gone 69-35, making the playoffs every year since 2007. The Generals even reached the state championship in 2008, but fell 37-13 to Phoebus.
However, the result may be different this time around because of the team Mills has at his disposal, one he has had a hand in developing since middle school.
Senior safety Rashaad Goodwyn discussed the state championship goal being in place since middle school, following the Generals win last weekend.
"The Billy Mills' program starts from middle school and it carries on to your senior season," Goodwyn said of the the goal. "It would mean a lot. It's been a long time coming. We've put in the work from January until now and we're not stopping until we get the ring."
And their mentality shows on the football field.
After compiling an undefeated season, Dinwiddie has raised their level of play during the postseason. The Generals have shutout three of their opponents, dominating the trench play on both sides of the ball.
Mills' group is averaging 44.5 points per game while allowing just 3.5 points per contest, yet the disparity is even more mind-numbing when it comes to the rushing yardage gained. Dinwiddie has rushed for 1,298 yards, averaging 324.5 per game.
Yet, their opponents have gained just 274 yards for an average of 68.5 per game, a margin rarely seen on any level, especially during the postseason.
However, even with the gaudy numbers, the Generals are not interested in the hype around their team. They know they need to remain focused at the task at hand, taking on the personality of their head coach.
"We're feeling good, feeling confident, but we can't become cocky," quarterback Ronald Kearney said. "We have to stay confident, come out next week, prepare and go back to work."
The desire to get better each week is a mindset driven into the Generals' players from the moment they are enrolled in the middle school. The fact Kearney talked about improving and remaining level-headed even after he has completed 30-of-49 passes for nine touchdowns and one interception during the playoffs, shows the desire of the team.
It's an aspect Mills noted right after the win, saying there are bigger goals to be had before even relishing the chance of appearing in his second state final as head coach of Dinwiddie.
"This isn't the end all right here. We have a different goal," Mills said bluntly. "We got one of these, not to take anything away from it because it's a great honor, but we got one more step to go. That's been our goal since January. We aren't going to rest or sleep until that's done.
While there are no guarantees in football, Goliaths fall and Davids triumph, Mills has established a winning tradition at Dinwiddie. Whether the Generals capture the program's first state title or not, success is sure to follow as the Mills' program continue to take effect, churning out winning players at a factory-like procession.