By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Yukon returns to district play and looks to get back in the thick of the race Friday when the Millers’ host Norman.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. At Miller Stadium. The game is also homecoming for the Millers, with homecoming festivities starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Millers, 2-3, are looking to bounce back from a 26-21 heartbreaking non-district loss to Sand Springs last week. The Norman game is coming at a right time for the Millers. Norman is 0-5 after losing 50-17 to Edmond Santa Fe last week. The Tigers are 0-2 in district play, losing to Jenks 58-7 the week before.
YHS will be looking to end a two-game losing skid to the Tigers, dropping a 36-22 decision last year and a 56-28 loss the year before.
The Millers are 3-6 in the last nine meetings. YHS won 37-7 in 2014 and 21-19 in 2013.
Norman’s last win on the football field game Oct. 6, 2016, the win over the Millers.
Miller head coach Jeremy Reed is looking to see his team rebound this week and put a pair of two-game losing streaks to an end.
“It’s good timing for Norman,” Miller head coach Jeremy Reed said. “We are coming off a tough loss, much tougher than the week before. It’s our homecoming and I expect Norman to play the game of the year, probably play their best game of the year. Talking to coaches that have been here they always play well against Yukon. They believe they can beat Yukon.
“We have a much bigger challenge when you see on paper an 0-5 team against a 2-3 team,” he said. “We have to be very, very in tune with ourselves and make sure we play our best game.”
Norman is relying on young players in head coach Rocky Martin’s first season. The Tigers start a sophomore, Cade Horton at quarterback. He passed for 125 yards last week in the loss to Santa Fe.
Runningback Traeveyon Edmundson has been the go-to guy for the Tigers in the run game. Horton does experience at receiver in 6-2 Mark Williams, Harvey Cooper and Max Cato.
On defense, the Tigers have had their problems stopping people, but are getting better up front, led by Kobe Wilson (6-5, 250) and Danny Cox (5-11, 265).
“Norman does have a lot of young players and when you have young players, you are going to see some inconsistencies,” Reed said. “You are also going to see flashes of greatness, then you will see some things happen that will make you shake your head. There are times they look very, very good, then at times they do things that young players do in varsity action. But, they are growing up fast, because they are getting a lot of varsity playing time.
“This is week six, so they have grown up a lot over five weeks and as I watch, you see their mistakes go down,” he said. ‘I don’t expect we will make them see the same mistakes they made two or three weeks ago.”
The Millers have also done some growing up over the last six weeks. The defense has been more consistent and the offense has been moving the ball. YHS ran for over 350 yards last week against Sand Springs.
“Our defense is getting better,” Reed said. “We have struggled in areas that everyone can see, like tackling. But, when we are playing with fire, intensity and emotion, our defense does a really, really good job. The third quarter last week was a testament to that.
“Our offense had gotten better and better,” he added. “We are doing some really good things. The only thing is we are not putting enough points on the board with the output of yardage. Last week, we rushed for 387 and this past week we rushed for 356. When you rush for that many yards, you have to put more than 21 points on the board. We had limited possessions this past week and that hurt. It makes you have to be near perfect with offense.
“As far as execution, our offense executed well. We had a lot of positive things and graded out well on our schemes. We don’t have any problems with x’s and o’s, it’s the mental focus and that falls on me. I will be the one that gets it fixed, that’s my job.”
The Millers did move the ball in the running game with quarterback Perry Olsen and runningbacks Parker Kenley, Antonio Washington and Noah Davis. The Millers used seven different runningbacks in the game with Sand Springs.
“The one positive out of the game was I don’t know the last time a Yukon team has come from two touchdowns at halftime and came back and took a lead,” Reed said. “We were down 20-7 and that was another opportunity for a team that could fall back in their ways of the past. What is very encouraging is our kids responded to the challenge and played the second half like we should play every quarter. That is going in the right direction.”