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27 years after winning state title as a player, Brent Miller preparing to coach his two sons at Dakota Bowl

Miller played for the Fargo North team that won the school's first-ever state championship in 1995. Now, he has a chance to help the program to a third title along with his two sons, Jim and Jack.

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Fargo North's Jim Miller scores a touchdown to wrap up the game for the Spartans against Fargo South during the North Dakota Class A semifinals at South High on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — Brent Miller was on the 1995 Fargo North football team that went 10-1 and won the school its first-ever state championship.

Twenty-seven years later, the program is now seeking its third state title on Friday when the fifth-seeded Spartans face off with second-seeded and defending state champion Jamestown in the Class 11A championship game at Dakota Bowl XXX.

Miller will now have the chance to do it all over again — this time with his two sons.

Miller is the defensive coordinator for North. His eldest son, Jim Miller, is a junior running back and linebacker for the Spartans. His other son, Jack Miller, is a sophomore lineman.

“It’s a big deal for our family,” Brent said at a practice this week. “Football is a big part of it. We’re kind of a faith, family, football type of family. It’s been a part of our lives since before (Jim and Jack) were even born. My wife and I met at a college football game.

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“This has been a long time coming. We’ve had a great season and we’ve had a couple of other seasons together being on the same team, but nothing as big as this.”

Jim and Jack both said it’s a special feeling getting to play under the guidance of their father.

“It’s nice,” Jim said. “I’ve been playing football my whole life and so has Jack.”

“I’ve been playing for a while too,” Jack added. “So it’ll be really cool.”

Brent was a sophomore in 1995 when North defeated Bismarck for the crown. He holds the single-season school record for sacks with 18 1/2 as well as the school record for career forced fumbles with eight.

“I’m a North alum, I was a sophomore in ‘95 and got to play in that game,” Brent said. “I was part of a really good team. I played for some great coaches in Coach (Bruce) Larson, Coach Bret (Sorensen), Coach (Dave) Heide, Coach (Mike) Lestina — some great guys and it’s been awesome to be back and be able to give back to this program.”

Jim and Jack have certainly left their marks on the program this season. Jim was named to the all-Eastern Dakota Conference team just like his dad was in 1997. Offensively, Jim has 320 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns through 11 games. Defensively, he has 17 tackles. Jack can be found throwing blocks or providing penetration on the offensive and defensive lines.

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Fargo North's Jack Miller delivers a pancake block as teammate Peder Haugo carries against Fargo South during the North Dakota Class A semifinals at South High on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Playing at the Fargodome? Nothing new for Brent. His kids on the other hand? That’s a different story.

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“I was telling the guys we played every high school home game in (the Fargodome),” Brent said. “And so for me, it’s nothing new. I’m kind of used to being in this spot. We were in here a couple of years ago when we were renovating our field. For me, it’s not a big deal. But the last time for a lot of these kids (playing in the Fargodome) it was when they were seventh-graders playing FM Athletics (Youth Football).

“So (today) is kind of about shaking off the rust and getting the nerves out. But it’s an exciting moment for these kids and it’s huge for our program and we’ve been working a long time for this.”

“It’s pretty important,” Jim added. “We have a history of just playing football. We’re excited and nervous just a little bit.”

“We worked pretty hard to be here so it feels nice,” Jack continued. “We’ve just got to keep our heads in it. That’s pretty important.”

While the Millers are family by blood, Brent finished by saying this week — the biggest family out there is the team as a whole.

“It’s been a great circumstance,” Brent said. “This group of kids here — we’re a tight family but this group here is playing like a family this week.”

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or rspitza@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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