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'I was meant to be a Blue Jay': Carson Miller's football family legacy

carson miller and brad westphal
Posted at 9:40 AM, Aug 31, 2023

MENASHA (NBC 26) — Carson Miller has strong roots in Menasha football.

His father played on the team, his cousin played and went on to coach — and so did his grandfather, Brad Westphal.

"Football has always been in Carson's family," said Menasha Head Coach Jeramie Korth.

Korth knew Miller's grandfather well; they'd coached together for seven years before Westphal retired. Korth took over as head coach for the last 16.

He said that a major point in Westphal's legacy was helping to turn around a team that had previously gone 0 and 27.

So, when Miller started his freshman year of school playing for the Kimberly Papermakers, he said it just didn't feel right.

“I wasn't meant to be a Papermaker. I was meant to be a Blue Jay,” Miller said.

Miller grew up watching his grandfather coach on the field where he now practices.

"The legacy thing means a lot. So, when I get the opportunity to play out here on Friday nights now, like, I just think of my grandpa and how proud he would be. And my uncle who played here as well, and my cousin who's a coach here too," said Miller.

"It's, it's crazy. I don't know, like, from being a little kid and now playing, it's just like — there's no better feeling than that, to be honest," Miller said. "Life's truly a process... the fact that I get to be here is just an amazing feeling."

He said he believes in this team that has always been his.

"My goal is to win a state championship. That's, that's the number one thing, state championship — and conference championship because, I mean, I know this team can go far," said Miller. "We've got the pieces. Now we just need to put it all together."

Miller is only a junior, but he's set his sights far ahead — and he wants football to continue to be a part of his life in a major way. He wants to play for college and beyond.

But in the meantime, he's also playing to make his grandpa proud.

"He never got to see me play, really, middle school or high school clearly, and — I don't know, that just means a lot because then I can show him what I'm doing down here. You know what I mean? While he's up there," Miller said.

He finds extra motivation in the plaque dedicated to his grandpa in his team's locker room.

"I think I got the jaw," he said, looking at his grandpa's smiling visage above him.

Menasha will take on Manitowoc on Friday in a Battle for Highway 10 — a tradition that was started three years ago. Menasha hopes to retain a Highway 10 sign for the third year in a row.