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In this file photo, Hazard’s Garrett Miller prepares to throw the ball against Shelby Valley in a preseason scrimmage last season.

Hazard quarterback Garrett Miller had a big season last year.

He is looking to use that experience to have a bigger season this year.

Miller finished the season 77 for 130 passing for 1,188 yards and 10 TDs with four interceptions. He also added 144 yards and a TD on the ground.

He has cemented himself as one of the leaders on the team.

“You just have to go out there and really take control,” Miller said. “That’s the big thing. You have to let them know that as the quarterback, you’ve got their back and they have yours. The other thing is just don’t back down from anything. Let them know that you’re ready to go to war with them.”

As a quarterback, Miller had some really good targets to throw to last season.

Last season, a few sophomores emerged for the Bulldogs and two of them were his favorite targets in Andrew Ford and Tyson Turner.

“We had Zane (Deaton), Andrew Ford and Tyson (Turner),” Miller said. “Andrew and Tyson are great players and Zane is going to be a great linebacker for us. It’s just real special to play with some guys like that.

“You don’t really even have to throw it down the field, you just have to get it in their hands and they’ll do the work. They’re good enough to make plays with their feet.”

Experience will be key this season.

Even though the Bulldogs lost a lot of talented seniors, a lot of young players played big roles for Hazard last year.

“It was good for our sophomores and juniors to get in the game and gain some experience,” Miller said. “Now that we’re older it’s just try to go out and win some games.

“Last year, the more we played, the better we got. It was like the experience thing. This year, we’ve all got the experience and it’s just what we do with it now.”

Earlier this summer, Hazard experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.

That caused a delay in workouts.

But the Bulldogs have got past the outbreak and are now focused on the upcoming season.

“We’re all hungry for it,” Miller said. “Being away from each other for that time from school was really rough. Then once we all got back out here it was like we never left.”

Hazard kept improving last season.

Each game the Bulldogs got better and better.

Hazard big regular season wins over Danville and Paintsville.

The Bulldogs couldn’t get past reigning Class A state champs and district rival Pikeville.

Hazard did play the Panthers close in the first half last season in the district championship round of the playoffs, but still came up short in the end.

That has made the Bulldogs hungry this season and has given them something to focus on.

“The playoffs are the big thing,” Miller said. “We want to beat Pikeville, but we all just want a ring here.”

Hazard is ranked No. 2 in the preseason RPI.

The Bulldogs are ranked second behind Pikeville.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season September 11 at 7:30 p.m. against Floyd Central. The game will take place at Leslie County because the Bulldogs are getting some work done to their home field.

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