Braxton Miller: The top-rated high school quarterback in the nation by several recruiting sources.
He could dominate any discussion about the Huber Heights Wayne High School football team, the opponent for defending state champion Hilliard Davidson in a Division I semifinal on Saturday at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
But coach Brian White knows his Wildcats have more to worry about than Miller, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound Ohio State recruit.
"Everyone knows about Braxton Miller. There's a reason he's rated as the No. 1 quarterback in the country by several people. He's the total package," said White, whose team enters the game 13-0. "He can throw the ball with great precision and if you don't leave him with any open receivers, he can pull down the ball and hurt you running.
"But they are more than Braxton Miller. They have a lot of good athletes on both sides of the ball."
Miller has completed 137 of 253 passes for 1,838 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also has run for 543 yards in 129 carries and 14 touchdowns.
"I think we were trying to overcome the 'Braxton Miller thing' early in the season," said Wayne coach Jay Minton, whose team is 10-3 overall. "When you have a player of his magnitude, it can be difficult because that's all anyone wants to talk about, but it gets better as the season goes along.
"I think Braxton helped things because he got up in front of the team and told them he didn't want to be a person who would take away from the team. He told them that it wasn't about him because he was only one person. He said for the team to be successful, everyone would have to play at a high level."
The game should boil down to which offense is more effective: The ball-control, run-oriented attack of Davidson against the wide-open assault of the Warriors.
Senior running back Anthone Taylor (5-11, 200) has gained 1,347 yards in 273 carries with 12 touchdowns for Wayne. Senior Seth Stuart (5-7, 175) has caught 42 passes for 409 yards and one touchdown. Junior Armani Miller (6-1, 175) has 31 receptions for 494 yards with four touchdowns and junior Marshall Peterson (6-2, 195) has 24 catches for 409 yards with four scores.
"They know what their identity is and what their schemes are," White said. "They spread the ball around both throwing and running the ball."
Braxton Miller was injured in a 35-28 loss to Cincinnati Moeller in the season opener on Aug. 29 then did not play in a 26-0 loss to Canton McKinley on Sept. 4. After that, the Warriors only have lost to Springfield 28-21 on Oct. 1. Davidson beat Springfield 9-0 in a regional semifinal on Nov. 14.
"Braxton had some injuries early on and we had other guys step up," said Minton, whose team has reached a state semifinal for the first time since 1999 when the Warriors lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 24-10 in the title game. "Anthone Taylor has stepped up and gained more than 1,300 yards and our offensive line has really started to jell. Our defense has given up yards, but we have an opportunistic defense."
The Warriors' multiple 4-3 defense is led by senior defensive end Tyler Dukes (6-2, 200), senior defensive back Tre Moore (6-0, 190) and senior linebacker Teven Williams (5-11, 210).
The Davidson offense is led by junior Alex Mickley (5-8, 174) with 1,481 yards in 247 carries and 28 touchdowns. Senior Nick Seiffert (5-8, 180) has rushed for 787 yards in 136 carries with five touchdowns and junior Tyler Talbott (5-9, 160) has added 533 yards in 85 carries and eight scores.
Senior quarterback Jimmy Curtis (6-0, 176) has rushed for 412 yards in 76 carries with four touchdowns and has attempted only 26 passes with 17 completions for 384 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. In the postseason, he is 2-for-4 passing for 51 yards and a touchdown.
"I think what they are so good at is that they play as a unit of one," Minton said. "When you run a wide-open offense a lot more things can go wrong, but they have 11 guys doing what they are supposed to do. They do what they do all of the time and that helps to minimize mistakes. They believe that if they do their jobs, they will do it right. The kids believe in what they do."
And though many label the Davidson offense as "vanilla," Minton knows better.
"They have won two state titles in the last four years. That says they are doing something right," he said.