By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Still a fighting chance.
Yukon still has an opportunity to earn a spot in the class 6A playoffs Friday night. But, it is going to take some doing.
The Millers host Westmoore in one of two big District 6AI-1 matchups Friday night at Miller Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Yukon has to win Friday night to have a chance and the Millers can finish as high as third or as low a fourth with the win.
The Millers will be fourth with a win over Westmoore and a Santa Fe win over Jenks (the other key 6AI-1 contest). Yukon can finish as high as third with win of 11 points or more and Edmond Santa loss where Yukon gains 15 or more district points on Santa Fe. The Millers would be fourth with win and Edmond Santa Fe loss where Yukon wins by 11 points or more or gains 15 or more district points on Edmond Santa Fe.
YHS was in the same position 20 years ago, when the team did make the playoffs and went all the way to the state finals.
The Millers enter the game with a 4-5 overall record and a 2-3 district record after losing 17-10 to Santa Fe last week. Westmoore is 7-2 overall and 3-2 in district play. The Jaguars lost to Jenks 38-21 to open the door for the Millers to have an opportunity to play for a playoff berth.
“The big deal is Santa Fe needs to lose to Jenks by at least 14 points, so we have to have a little help on that end,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “As we told our kids, we need to go win and let the other take care of itself.
“The kids were hurt, crushed and broken, a combination of all those after last Friday night,” Reed said. “Rightfully so, it was extremely tough. Talking to them was even as tough yesterday. It is not easy when you put in the time and investment that we all do and then lose in a tight ball game that had all those implications. Understandably so, they feel the way they do.
“When I covered the scenario yesterday, the players thought we had zero chance, so they perked up. The motivating factor is that we still do have a chance. We are not into moral victories, but to play down the stretch and have a chance each week is a change for all these kids. It is good to have a chance to play for the playoffs and not just to play to be playing.”
The Millers will face a Westmoore team that has been explosive on offense. The Jags are the highest scoring team in the district and the third highest in 6AI. Westmoore averages 45 points a game and allows only 22 a game. The Millers are scoring an average of 26 a game and allowing 28.
“Westmoore is an extremely talented team, very, very talented,” Reed said. “They are arguably the most talented team we have faced, just athlete for athlete. Offensively they are ridiculously talented at runningback. They have a pair of runningbacks that are big, physical and fast. The offensive line is very good, the quarterback does a great job and they have a pair of big, fast receivers. They don’t look like your everyday high school offense.
“Defensively, they play very, very aggressive,” he said. “They play a lot cover one man defense and just let the front line tee off and be athletes. You can tell they don’t have much to think about, they just play very fast. They are a very impressive team.”
The Millers will be looking to counter that offense by keeping the Jaguar offense off the field. YHS will be looking to count on their run game to control the game and keep Westmoore from having too many opportunities.
”We have to make plays in those crucial situations,” Reed said. “That is what has been a hinderance to us in bigger ball games when it gets down to that situation where we have to make a play and we have not made that play. It is not that we doing new things or we are not doing the same thing over and over, so it is not one of those things that you are panicking and trying some new or doing same thing over and over that the defense says oh here it comes, we are making those plays in a crucial situations and we have to learn how to play in those situations like we do in the rest of the game.
“You see bright spots in the regular portion of the game that you expect those to continue in a tight situation and they haven’t,” he added. “We have to learn how to make those plays in the times we have to make a play.
“Defensively, we need to make them snap the ball. You can’t let them have one, two or three play drives. They are so capable of ripping off the big play time after time after time. It has to be our focus not to allow the big plays. If they are going to be successful, make them be successful snapping the ball a bunch. That has to be our main focal point for our defense.”