During his three years as Wayne Christian’s head football coach, Luis Miranda met every challenge head-on.
The Eagles started their eight-man football program in 2015, but by 2018, the football program was shuttered. However, in 2019, the Eagles were back on the football field and had the first winning season in school history.
In 2020, the Eagles’ season was affected by COVID 19, but the Eagles went 3-0, and it set the tone for the 2021 season, where the Eagles made even more history.
On Nov. 6, the Eagles defeated Halifax Academy 28-8 to win the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association DII championship.
And in just three years, the Eagles went from having no team to winning a state championship.
“To go from no team to state champions in three years, it’s almost like that sense of ‘we did it,’” Miranda said. “We achieved that goal, and it wasn’t possible without the help of those seniors that first year, the homeschoolers, and all of the people who helped us along the way.
“For me, it was a sense of accomplishment, not for myself, but for everybody that made Wayne Christian School football a possibility.”
After three years of hard work and dedication to the football program, which included leading the Eagles to a first state title, Miranda announced he is stepping down as the Eagles’ head coach.
It was a difficult decision for Miranda to make, but he knows he’s leaving the football program in great hands. Associate head coach Daniel Pugh, who joined the coaching staff 2020, will take over the program.
“I’m a firm believer in leaving things better than when you found them, and I’m a big proponent of developing leaders,” Miranda said. “Coach Pugh joined our staff last year, and he’s a phenomenal coach with a high football I.Q.
“Working with him last year, I knew he had the potential to be the next head coach.”
For Miranda, his journey to becoming a state championship-winning coach started many years ago.
A passionate football fan, who loves the Florida State Seminoles, he graduated from Spring Creek High School in 2004 and played football on the Gators’ JV team. He attended the University of Mount Olive and obtained a master’s degree from Liberty University.
Miranda then spent a few years working at UMO before the door opened for him to start working at Wayne Christian, where he is now the kindergarten-12th grade principal.
“My background was in sales. So, I did sales for maybe 10-13 years, and God called me out of that and into the business of making and building relationships. “My daughter was already here at Wayne Christian, and we fell in love with the school.
“The rest is history.”
When Miranda took over the football program three years ago, he knew restarting the program would be a daunting challenge.
He had coached some youth football and coached at a Boys & Girls Club, but not at the high school level, so he surrounded himself with a great staff, and they went to work.
The first step was to rebuild student interest in football. In the spring of 2019, the coaching staff invited homeschooled students, Wayne Christian students, and their parents to a meeting.
“We had like 16 kids combined come out, and it like ‘oh we might really have a team,’ and then over the summer more kids wanted to play,” Miranda said.
Once the coaching staff realized the interest was there, they started having workouts and practices. They put together a playbook, a weight-lifting program, and all the other things necessary for a football program.
“That first spring, we just did the basics, and the kids were excited,” Miranda said. “All we had were helmets and shoulder pads. We didn’t have any sort of tackling dummies. We didn’t have anything. We just out there but knew this was really going to take off.”
In 2016-2017, the Eagles had won four games combined, but during the 2019 season, even though there were plenty of speedbumps, the Eagles managed to have a 4-3-1 overall record.
The Eagles planned to build off their success in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles could only play three games. Still, they went 3-0, and it set the stage for the 2021 season.
“We had hopes and dreams, and we just wanted to have fun and build a football program,” Miranda said. “Once the 2020 season was over, and coming into this season, we felt like we had arrived in a way.”
Before the start of this season, Miranda and coaches came up with the motto P.F.G, which stands for prepare for glory.
“During spring practice, we had a team devotion, and we talked about what God expected of us as men,” Miranda said. “Coach Pugh and I talked about glory and what glory really is. Glory is a word with so many meanings.
“Prepare for glory in everything that you do. On the football field, but also that day that we stand face to face with God the creator.”
Wayne Christian started the season 0-3, but the Eagles never wavered, and they reeled off eight straight victories, and most importantly, won a state title.
Miranda said he wanted to thank the seniors on the 2019 team for laying the foundation for the Eagles’ success because without those seniors buying in, Wayne Christian may not have won a state title.
He is leaving the door open for a return to coaching one day, but for now, he is happy to sit on bleachers, watch his daughters play sports, and the football team contend for more state titles.
“I’ll continue in my administrative role at Wayne Christian School. For now, I’ll focus on that,” Miranda. “I’ll be a dad, and I’ll be here to help in any that I can.”