It was a bit of a homecoming for Blue Springs High School graduate Darrian Miller.
He was a part of of the Kansas City Phantoms-Sioux City Champions Indoor League game Saturday at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
But this time things were a little different.
He once played for the Phantoms, but ended up signing with Sioux City in the offseason. He helped torch his former team as the Bandits totaled 212 rushing yards in a 78-49 win over the Phantoms.
Miller had a big day, rushing for 72 yards on 12 carries and four touchdowns. He displayed some of the abilities that made him a hometown favorite with the Phantoms and a two-time Simone Award finalist with Blue Springs with his elusiveness and ability to convert in short-yardage situations.
And he was greeted by friends and family after the game and signed a ball for a child that was tossing around a football on the field.
“You know I am from Blue Springs, right?” Miller asked the child while smiling.
He was happy to be back home.
“It was good for family to be able to watch me,” said Miller, who began his college career at Kansas and finished at Northern Iowa. “It was a little bit hard for me going to Iowa. My family gets to watch the game online, but it was good to come back.”
Miller said his move to Sioux City had a lot to do with being a better fit for him scheme-wise as he aims to potentially play at higher levels of football.
“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Miller said. “I thought it was a good style (of football). They understood what I was trying to do as far as going to the next level.”
Miller was part of the reason the Phantoms will have pressure on them next Saturday when they take on the Salina Liberty. The Phantoms are still one game behind the Omaha Beef and the Wichita force for the second wild card spot in the Champions Indoor Football playoffs. According to head coach Meadow Lemon, Kansas City can still sneak into the playoffs with a win in their final home game and losses by Omaha and Wichita.
“We have to have some help,” Lemon said. “We knew coming into this game that we have to win one of the last two games. Unfortunately, today’s loss puts us in a must-win situation next week.”
It will be a tough task as the Phantoms have recently acquired new players to fill spots from departed or injured players. The defense had an outstanding game last week in a in a 41-28 win against the Texas Revolution. But Lemon’s team struggled to stop a fast and physical Bandits team that totaled 289 yards from scrimmage.
“We were just out of sync,” Lemon said. “I couldn’t get the team in sync where I needed them to. I will take responsibility for that. I needed them to be wound a little tighter. That’s something we’ll work on.”
The Phantoms kept pace with the Bandits as quarterback Donovan Porterie rushed for a 7-yard score and tossed a 13-yard touchdown to Andre Taylor, which was sandwiched in between a 4-yard scoring run from from Taylor, to make it 21-20 early in the second quarter. But TD runs of 2 and 3 yards by Miller and a 52-yard FG helped the Bandits pull away to a 37-21 halftime lead.
The Phantoms pulled as close as 11 when a 2-yard TD run by Marquel White made it 44-33 midway through the third period, but four interceptions helped doom the Phantoms.
The Bandits scored on their next possession, got a interception and scored again to put it away and lead 57-33 near the end of the third. Miller had two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth to cap his big night.