By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – It’s Bedlam time again!
The annual Canadian County Bedlam Battle is on with Yukon heading south to Mustang to take on the Broncos in their yearly season opening match-up.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bronco Stadium and a full house is expected again. Tickets for the game are $7.
The Millers come into the game sporting a new offensive and defensive look against the Broncos of Jeremy Dombek. Dombek begins his fifth season as the Broncos head coach and has had MHS in the playoffs in his first four years.
One unique note to this game is that this will be the first time the teams have met that both head coaches have had the same first name.
YHS head coach Jeremy Reed will get his first taste of the bedlam battle and is looking to end the Millers’ losing skid to the Broncos. MHS has won the last three meetings between the teams.
“It is a very exciting way to start out your year,” Reed said. “I don’t know if I had the choice if I would start out the year with the rivalry game, but I don’t have the choice.
“It will be a great week, it is great for the communities,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a huge uplift for both communities to start out playing each other. The communities are close in proximity of each other and it is exciting for both communities.”
Reed has heard about the rivalry since his arrival in Yukon and has been part of rivalry games during his coaching career. But, he is looking forward to the unique rivalry between Yukon and Mustang.
“I don’t think there is a hatred, but they definitely don’t like each other, I can tell,” he said. “It is obviously very one sided, so there is one side that is extremely confident and they have earned that right. There is one side that has been beat on pretty hard and haven’t been competitive. It has a big brother, little brother type feel.
“I expect the onfield play to be super intense,” he added. ‘I am not a fan of dirty rivalries and I hope we can not a part of that on the field. I think our kids are handling as far as what we are asking them to do. We are just in preparation mode.”
The game will be the one that for both teams will be the largest crowd they will play in front of all year long. Around 10,000 are expected and the crowd has reached more that 12,500 at one time.
And this is one game that neither side should have a problem getting ready for.
“I don’t think there will have to be any rah-rah speech or heavy motivation for this one,” Reed said. “I made a comment this morning that if you are not motivated for this one then you are not alive. It is a neat game because of the magnitude of it. It is very easy to get ready to play when you know you are going to have an environment like we are getting ready to have on Friday.
“That will be a lot of fun for the kids,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal has already in every aspect of our program is to give a kid an experience he won’t forget. This will be one of those moments that a kid will have a chance to remember that forever. Not every kid gets to play in front of crowd of 10,000.
“You can win or lose this game and it can be bad on both ends. You can win and be to high that you are not ready for week two. You can lose and take that feeling it is the end of the season of someone allows it to be. The game is no bigger than any other game. Is it important, absolutely. Is it the most important game on our schedule, yes, because we are playing it this week.
“But, you can’t allow the game to get bigger than it really is. If you win the game, it is a great boost and we are going to do 10 out of 10 things to win this game. But, we are also not going to look at this game as make or break. We have to use this game as he next two games and the fifth game against and Springs as a time to gel and what it is suppose to be, preparation to play the district schedule.”
The Broncos will have the more experienced team coming into the game. MHS returns starting quarterback Brayden Garrett, who passed for over 1,500 yards last season and 15 touchdowns. Runningback Carlos Thomas was the team’s workhorse in the ground game. He carried the ball 231 times for 1,574 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Broncos also have a big, and maybe one of the best offensive lines in class 6A led by Drew Rosko (6-3, 270), Blake Russell (6-3., 275) and Caleb Brian (6-6, 275).
“Mustang is a very solid team,” Reed said. “Offensively, they are great at what you need to be great at and that is offensive line. They are dirty doing it and not in a bad way like dirty play, but they get on you and get nasty up front and that is what a good offensive lineman does.
“They have more than one good runningback, have a quarterback that does a good job and two receivers that are playmakers. They are very well balanced offensively.
“Defensively, they are young compared to last year, but when you look at the kids they put out there, they are well coached and will get the job done,” he said. “We will have our hands full as well as I feel they will have their hands full with us on both sides. I don’t feel we are inferior.
“The advantages are they have won for the last three years and we haven’t. They have been to the semifinals and we haven’t. Their experience is much more, but you take that out and you have two teams that will not be a whole lot of difference.”
The Millers do have talent themselves on both sides of the ball. Perry Olsen, who moved in from Southmoore, has stepped in as the starting quarterback in running the flexbone offense.
Runningbacks Kenley Parker, Bryce Williams and Noah Davis have shown they can move the ball on the ground.
Jamar Smith (6-4, 298) and Blaine Biswell (6-0, 255) will anchor and offensive line and that has two good pre-season scrimmages.
Defensively, Jakoby Kopepesah (6-3, 268) and Caimon McGee (6-1, 245) will anchor the defensive front. Owen Olsen and Dillion Andraszek will step in at linebacker and Jalen Barnes will play a key role in the secondary.
This match-up in the past has been a game of who gets off to the fastest start. The last couple of years, Mustang has jumped out to the early lead, but the Millers have also had games where they have scored big early.
“It is important in every game, but I definitely think it is important when you are playing with a team that has not had success,” Reed said. “Our start is very important. Mustang knows they have been able to jump on Yukon early in the past and Yukon has not been able to fight back.
“I really like the mindset of our kids,” he added. “We have really harped on play the next play and we have done that. We had that happen in the scrimmage last week and we responded. We need to go execute on all three phases of the game and make sure we get the game going instead of fighting from behind.
“We just need to be consistent with what we are asking. There is enough pressure on this game that these kids are not going to feel any pressure from us. We just need our kids to be our kids and the coaches to be coaches. There is nothing special that needs to happen this week. Go be who we are and it will take care of itself. That is the most important thing this week.”