By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Yukon will finally get to wear their home red uniforms and the Millers open the home portion of their schedule tonight.
The Millers will host Southmoore in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Miller Stadium.
And, for the first time in over two years, YHS will have something in front of their name. A top 10 ranking.
The Millers, 1-1, are ranked either No. 7 or 8 (depending on which poll you look at) going into the contest against a winless Southmoore. The Millers have never beaten the Sabercats on the football field (the teams have met only once). Southmoore won the meeting last year 38-7.
Southmoore enters the game with an 0-2 record, losing 53-6 to Westmoore last week. The ‘Cats lost to Deer Creek 21-13 in the opener. The ‘Cats also lost seven players that transferred to other schools over the past year.
But, Southmoore head coach Jason Starks says he may have a young team, but they are hard working and are committed to the football program.
Yukon is coming into the game after pulling off a 38-31 win over Norman North last week, snapping a 14-game overall losing skid and a five-game losing mark to the Timberwolves.
“We are super excited, we talked with our kids about playing at home and my expectations of our kids is to take it up a notch,” Miller head coach Jeremy Reed said. “Protecting our turf, our community, when somethone is coming in trying to take something away from you and we wanted to make sure they know the expectation of protecting what is yours. We are very excited to play in our stadium, in front of our community and just hope it will be a packed house of Red and White on our side.
“We talked about tasting success and know what it is like and understand what gave us that opportunity,” he said. “It ought to make us crave to want to do things better. Even in our special teams practice, I thought our focus was already better. So I expect our kids focus and practice to be good. Winning helps and I know these kids are appreciative to get a big win and want to do it again.”
The Millers will be facing a Southmoore team that will be hungry in a different way, looking for their first win. The ‘Cats are not used to losing many games, much less three in a row.
“You have to put up a huge caution sign,” Reed said. “Because they are 0-2 and they lost players to different schools, they still have a lot of good players. It is not going to be one of those deals where you have a team rolling in here and you just so up, play mediocre and get out with a win. It is still going to be a quality football team. It is going to be a team that will give you problems at different places.
“We still have to make sure our focus is lasze sharp like it has been the first two weeks in preparation and not overlook someone.”
One of those former Southmoore players in YHS’ starting quarterback, Perry Olsen. His family moved to Yukon at semester of the 2016-17 school year. Olsen led the Millers to the win over Norman North, rushing for 220 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns.
It’s a game that Olsen is looking forward to in one way, but then not in another since most of those players have been longtime friends.
“It is very bittersweet playing against you best friends, the ones you have grown up with,” Olsen said. “We are going to prepare like it is normal game. When you step on the field, there are no friends, we are going to come out swinging and I know they are too.
“I have gotten a few tweets, but I don’t pay much attention to those,: he said. “I expect a little talking, but it is just a part of it.”
Olsen’s best friend from Southmoore is starting defensive tackle Brayden Fenity (6-3, 250), and those two will more than likely be on a collision course during the night.
“Brayden is a good defensive tackle and my best friend,” he said. “He is pretty heartbroken over the deal, but we are still good buddies and are still brothers at the end win, lose or draw. But, I’m sure if he gets an open shot at me, he will take it.”
Reed has talked with both Perry and Owen (Olsen) about the game.
“Those two guys will have to do a great job of taking their personal emotions out of it as much as possible,” Reed said. “I know you can’t take it completely out, but my hope is when the game starts we are playing football and put those to the side, but I know it will be tough on them.”
Southmoore will have a sophomore at quarterback in Jaedyn Scott (6-1, 200) that now has two games under his belt. Rae’Quan Ricks has been counted on to carry the load in the run game.
”The sophomore quarterback is a humongous part of the running game,” Reed said. “He will throw it some, but his strength is running the ball. They have a good runningback, who also starts on defense and they are large upfront.
“It is going to be a complete opposite of what we went into last week,” he said. “Norman North went in throwing the ball and this team wants to establish the run. It might be the quickest football game in the state of Oklahoma this week because they want to run the ball and so do we.
“Defensively, their strength is up front with the defensive linemen. Their linebackers are good. They are better at spots than what we have seen, so we have to do a better job of executing on offense similiar to what we did last week and even more so.”
The Millers had a break out game last week on offense, rolling up 396 yards on the ground and nearly 500 total. Olsen played a key role in the offense, carrying the ball 29 times. Parker Kenley did run for two touchdowns in the win from his halfback spot.
“Our offense has to get off to a better start, the last two weeks, we have gotten off to a lousy start,” Reed said. “I can’t put my finger on it, because typically our offense starts well just do to the speed of how we operate vs, what they see in practice. We have to execute and take care of the ball.”