BUTLER — Eastside football has gotten some attention the past two seasons.
The Blazers won a sectional title in 2019, and fell short of a repeat in a wild shootout against eventual state runner-up Bishop Luers this year.
Trine head football coach Troy Abbs was among those who took notice, and landed three key components of the Blazer machine who committed to his program Friday.
Wade Miller, Lane Burns and Phoenix Smyth all signed their commitments with families present at the high school on Friday.
“Wade, Phoenix and Lane have been a huge part of our football program the last four years,” Eastside coach Todd Mason said. “They’re tremendous football players but they’re even better men.
“I’m certainly proud of their accomplishments over the last four years and Trine’s getting three pretty good human beings today.”
Miller was All-Northeast Corner Conference as a receiver and was a KPC Media Group All-Area pick. He caught 28 passes for 477 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
“Trine’s a close school and it’s really going to help me for my academic career,” Miller said. “I’m excited to go and play football. I’m really looking forward to going there and filling any role Coach Abbs has for me.
“Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to play football at the next level. Coach Abbs explained to me what my role would be, and I really enjoyed talking with him about what I could do and I could be.”
Miller said he’s played football since he was 10. He said he’s enjoyed baseball, but football has been his favorite. He plans to major in health administration with an eye toward being a healthcare consultant.
Burns was all-conference as a defensive back and was also an All-Area selection. He was in on 63 tackles and broke up six passes.
“Coach Abbs welcomed us with open arms and made it feel like home,” Burns said. “I knew it was the school for me, and knowing that it was close and I’d have the opportunity to play with teammates from high school made it a good opportunity for me.
“I’ve always loved football since I was young. I’ve loved playing it. It’s grown on me as I’ve gotten older and I never want to let go. It’s four more years and an amazing opportunity.”
Burns said he’ll study sports management and business with a hope of staying around sports in some capacity.
Smyth was an All-NECC choice as a defensive lineman and also earned a spot on the All-Area team. He was in on 51 tackles, with 13 tackles for loss and 10 1/2 sacks.
“I chose Trine because it’s close to home,” Smyth said. “I could go to school and play football and get a good education. It helps knowing I’ll take this journey with two of my teammates as well as knowing some players who are already there.”
Smyth said he’ll study marketing with an aim toward owning his own business one day.
The Trine-bound trio has set a strong foundation on which the Blazers can build.
“They didn’t have to buy in to the “All In” mantra we’ve been using the last four years, but they were the ringleaders,” Mason said. “They brought it to a new level. As human beings and football players I couldn’t ask for anything more than what they’ve given to our program.
“They’ve raised the bar really high for the expectations of next year’s senior class.”
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