By Chuck Reherman
With a successful pre-season behind them, Yukon’s rugby team turns their attention toward opening the season.
The Millers open the season Saturday on the rugby pitch at Lakeview Stadium.
The Millers will host Jenks at 1:30 p.m.
“We look forward to hosting Jenks,” Miller coach Aric Gilliland said. “Jenks opted out of a preseason so we don’t know a lot about them this year other than they always field talented kids.
“We will look for them to have size and be athletic,” he added. “Since we haven’t seen any film on them this year our game plan is simple. Work hard to take care of the details. Be where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there. Be the best rugby team you can be. We look forward to an exciting weekend.”
Yukon beat Jenks in the final regular season game last year for the No. 2 seed in last years playoffs and met again in the consolation finals where Jenks beat Yukon.
The Millers did have two pre-season matches, losing to Tulsa Union 35-12 on Jan. 27, and posting a 22-20 win over Plano, TX., on Feb 3.
“We have some good experience returning mixed with some younger players stepping into key roles,” Gilliland said.
Key returning players for the Millers include: Forwards- Prop: Brendan Laub, Hooker: Leo Martinez, Lock/Kicker: Quinn Dennis, Lock: Zack Patterson, Flanker: Dayton Bradford.
Backs- Center: Eddie Jackson, Center: Darrien Dumas, Fly Half: Cody Cagle.
Gilliland said underclassmen the team will count on include: Scrum half: Chaslyn Parker, and Flanker: Edgar Gallindo.
In the opening pre-season match, Union beat the Millers 35-12.
The Millers led 12-10 at halftime. In the second half. In the second half, Union opened up on some big runs from their all-american backs to pull away.
“We we very effective and successful in the first half,” Gilliland said. “We matched up fairly well and had nice performances from many of our players but in the end lack of conditioning got the best of us.”
In the second pre-season match, the Millers held on to beat Plano, a perennial contender for the texas State Cup, 22-20.
“It was a very physical, well-matched competition,” Gilliland said. “Plano is a perennial contender for the Texas State Cup. We got out to small lead early on and would hang on to the lead for the remainder of the game winning 22-20.
“Stand out performances from sophomore Chaslyn Parker, Senior Centers Eddie Jackson and Darrien Dumas, and sophomore Edgar Gallindo, who changed positions to stand in for Cody Cagle, made a big difference in the game,” he said
“I was very pleased with the way the boys came out this week. After losing to Union last week and meeting another perinial powerhouse from Texas, the boys could have come in a bit weary. But they didn’t. They came out strong and played with determination. Our forwards played very well and helped control the game with their strength. Our backs took advantage of space.
“Eddie had several big runs and Chaslyn worked well orchestrating the game at scrum-half. I couldn’t be more proud of the way Edgar responded to being asked to change positions this week! He had a stand-out game at a position he’d never played before.
“I wanted to schedule pre-season matches with the best teams we could find. I was pleased to get these matches with Union and Plano. After the completion of the pre-season my assessment is that we have lots of potential. I believe these boys can be very successful this year if they make up their minds to do so and do the hard work of perfecting the details.”
By Chuck Reherman