Ben Mills has been one of the most consistent parts of The Woodlands’ offense this season.
Behind a strong offensive line, the senior quarterback has found success, and he put together one of his most impressive games on Friday night against Klein Forest.
Mills scored three rushing touchdowns and passed for another as the Highlanders concluded the regular season with a 38-21 victory over the Golden Eagles at Woodforest Bank Stadium.
For Mills’ effort, he was voted as The Courier’s Player of the Week with 39 percent of the vote. Lake Creek quarterback Nathan Gunn wasn’t far behind with 34 percent, while Caleb Chappelle of The Woodlands Christian Academy and Phillips McDaniel of New Caney garnered 12 and 11 percent of the vote, respectively.
“In the style of offense that we are, quarterback is a big piece of the puzzle and a big factor in the things that go on in games,” The Woodlands coach Jim Rapp said in a phone interview on Monday. “We’ve had so many injuries that we’ve been kind of disjointed offensively. Ben has been the big reason that’s kind of got us turned around offensively.”
The win over the Golden Eagles secured The Woodlands’ spot in the playoffs out of District 15-6A. The Highlanders (6-4) will travel to Spring ISD’s brand-new Planet Ford Stadium to play the Spring Lions (8-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Woodlands came in off a gut-wrenching loss to Klein Collins the previous week. The Highlanders were stopped at the Tigers’ 1-yard line. It set up a must-win game in Week 11.
“Klein Forest was a big game for us,” Mills said. “We went out and executed and clinched a playoff spot.”
Mills had scoring runs of 26 and 21 yards in the second quarter to help The Woodlands get out to a lead. He also had a short touchdown run and connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Connor Stockerl in the third.
“It was just a good week of preparation,” Mills said. “We put in a good scheme. We just went out and executed. Things fell into place for me. It just kind of happened and had three rushing touchdowns and that deep passing touchdown to Connor.”
Rapp explained that Mills, listed at 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds, is known for shorter touchdown scores near the goal line.
“He’s had some other big rushing games and scoring touchdowns,” Rapp said. “It wasn’t surprising. One of those was in a short-yardage.
“He made a couple phenomenal runs on his (first) two touchdowns— that part was a little surprising. But it takes more than one person to bring him down. He’s a big kid that has some moves. He has some speed in the open field. He can be deceptive sometimes.”
Added Mills: “We got good blocks up front, and there was a big hole. We had the receivers and everybody just working downfield. Just reading the blocks, and it was off to the end zone.”
For the game, Mills totaled 55 yards on 10 rushes. He was 7 for 14 passing for 79 yards.
The senior has 1,227 yards passing with seven touchdowns this season. He also has 648 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, which makes him one of four players in the district with double-digit rushing scores.
“He’s really come on the last half the season and has done some really good things for us,” Rapp said. “He’s stepped up from a leadership standpoint and from a play standpoint. That’s been big for us and what we’ve had to do the last four or five football games.”
The offensive line in front of Mills has been stable all year. The Highlanders are averaging 322 yards of total offense per game and 23.8 points.
“You can’t really do much without a good line,” Mills said. “You don’t have good pass protection, and you can’t get a really good run game going. They have been a big part of our season.”
Mills split time at quarterback last season with Casey Sunseri, who is now playing baseball for Texas State.
“The experience he received last year definitely helped him, and it really made him more prepared for this season,” Rapp said. “Anytime you’re the starter and the quarterback, there’s a lot of pressure, especially here at this school. He was able to handle the pressure, and we weren’t clicking on all cylinders early. He was able to persevere through that and really did some good things that late through season.”