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Miller will lead Lions for 2019, then leave for Houston in the newly formed XFL

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn head football coach Chris Miller recently announced that he will leave the Lions' program after the 2019 fall season to join the Houston team in the new XFL professional football league.There's no doubt about it — West Linn football coach Chris Miller would love to go out on top.

But this much is just as certain, Miller will make his exit from West Linn at the end of the coming 2019 season.

   Miller, preparing for his sixth season as the Lions' head coach, announced in June that the 2019 campaign would be his last at West Linn. He has accepted an offensive coordinator position with Houston in the newly formed XFL and will start his new job Dec. 3.

"It's a wrap. Six years is good for me," the former University of Oregon and NFL quarterback said. "I kind of like doing five-year increments. I'm kind of ready to move on to a higher level of ball and a better living."

Miller, who does not teach, said that the financial opportunity offered by the XFL — along with the new coaching challenge — was too good to pass up. Miller will earn about $150,000 for six months of work with Houston. As a non-staff coach at West Linn, he has been working off a stipend from the booster club.

"I don't teach, so I need to get out there and make a better living for my family," he said. "It's full benefits and the whole deal. It'll open up some other doors and opportunities. It'll be a good resume builder as well."

That said, Miller is all-in for his final season at West Linn and determined to help make his final Lions' team as competitive as those that preceded it.

"I'm really excited to put everything I've got into this year and make a run at it," Miller said. "I've got a special group of kids, a real talented group."

While his players may have been surprised when they first learned about Miller's interest in the XFL, he did his best to keep them informed and knows that they understand his reasoning.

"We had a running dialogue on that," he said. "I let them know I was going to Houston … and they respect my opportunity to move on and coach at a higher level, and the chance to make a better living for my family."

Houston coach June Jones, who coached Miller during his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, reached out to Miller to gauge his interest in joining the team's coaching staff.

"We talked ball," Miller said. "He wanted to know that I had a legitimate interest in it. I said, 'Heck, yeah. I'd love to work for you.' He's the type of man you want to work for. He won't grind you down and he enjoys it, has fun. ... We go way back. He's a great friend and I love him like a brother."

Before joining West Linn, Miller went 33-29 in two stints as head coach at South Eugene (2002-06, 2013) and served as quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals for three seasons (2009-11). Thus far at West Linn, the Lions have gone 26-7 in Three Rivers League play, 52-12 overall, won the Class 6A state title in 2016, finished second at state in 2015 and reached the playoff quarterfinals in each of his three other years.

After he completed his bachelor's degree in December, Miller began looking into college coaching jobs at schools including Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. He said he applied for the head coaching position at Bucknell and made it into the final group of five candidates, but Bucknell hired Valparaiso coach Dave Cecchini because of his college experience.

"I probably talked to about nine or 10 schools and got some good interest," Miller said. "It was nice to get through that experience and see what they're looking for. I'll keep my eye on some college jobs. There's one in our town — I don't want to name it — but if that came open, I would be all over it."

The chance to build from the ground up is part of the XFL's appeal to him, he said. He also likes that he will have more free time to spend with his family, travel, attend church and participate in charitable activities.

"I don't necessarily desire to grind the rest of my life," Miller said. "An NFL job can take years off your life, especially if your team's not doing very well."

As for a return to high school coaching, Miller said he would consider helping in some manner if his son, Dillon, landed a head coaching job. He views the 2019 season as his last as a high school head coach.

— Miles Vance contributed to this story

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