By Chuck Reherman
The pre-season talk about Yukon was mostly “defensive.”
The Millers showed why Friday night.
Yukon’s defense manhandled Edmond North as the Millers opened the 2018 campaign with a 28-0 win at Miller Stadium.
The Miller defense held Edmond North to a minus 26 yards rushing and only 174 yards of total offense and put one touchdown on the board in earning the season opening win. And, the special teams also had a special night, scoring twice off blocked punts.
The YHS defense sacked Edmond North quarterback Cory Entwhistle 12 times and forced minus yards on nine other plays in shutting down the Huskies’ offensive attack.
And, when the North offense tried to take advantage of Miller mistakes, the defense stopped the Huskies cold and forced turnover on downs.
“Our defense played phenomenal,” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said. “I had a good a feeling that they would play like that. I wasn’t anticipating 12 sacks, but the defense was lights out, almost flawless.
“There were a couple of plays here and there, but for the most part, they applied a lot of pressure for the most part,” he added. “The offense was not very good tonight, we can’t hide from it and we were lucky that the defense played as well as they did. And the special teams also played well.”
The defense was not the only standout of the night. The special teams came up big all night and two of the scores came off blocked punts.
Reed and his coaching staff did have some concerns about special teams play in the opening game since that is an area that doesn’t get a lot of time to work on other than in practice.
“We put in a lot of time with special teams and emphasize it with the kids,” Reed said. “Team meals, that is who eats first, the special teams starters, so its fun to see when you put the much emphasis on something and it has that big of an impact.
“It is awesome to be 1-0, it has been several years here since that has happened,” he said. “You can’t start any better than that. Everyone wants to be 1-0 and we are fortunate to be that this year.”
The defense had to come up big from the start. YHS fumbled away the ball on the opening possession and let Edmond North have a chance from the Miller 34 yard line. The defense forced a minus 10 yards in the first three plays and North had to punt the ball from the Miller 44.
That set the tone for the night as Yukon, led by a solid front four, took control of the game.
“We played like we knew we were going to play, it wasn’t a surprise,” defensive end Owen Olsen said. “We have been telling everyone that we are really good and it wasn’t s surprise, we showed it. I have said we have the best defensive line in that state and I wasn’t saying that to say it. We knew we would come out and our pass rush would be crazy.
“I was clawing, scratching everything to get to their quarterback,” he said. “They (the Edmond North line) were kind of holding, but that is football. We just did what we had to do to get a hold of him. I had to chase him down across the field, but I got him a couple of times.
“This was a confidence booster for us. Our offense will come around, they have to keep things clicking. This win was a great momentum booster for us.”
It was the special teams that gave the Millers their first score of the season. With North punting from their own 10-yard line, the Millers’ blocked the punt. Caden Hernandez scooped up the loose ball and raced 12 yards for the score with 7:52 left in the half.
The defense gave YHS a two score lead just minutes later. Elija Wallace stepped in front of an Entwhistle pass for an interception and returned the pick 62 yards for a touchdown. The Millers led 14-0 with 4:59 left in the half.
The special teams got in the scoring act again in the closing seconds of the half. After pushing North back to their own four-yard line, Colton Humphrey reached in and blocked a second North punt. Luke Rongwald came up with the ball in the end zone and the Millers had a 21-0 lead at the intermission.
The Miller offense did get going in the second half and put together a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive. Noah Davis scored on a seven-yard run with 3:34 remaining in the game.
YHS finished the game with 181 yards of offense, 148 on the ground led by Landon Donoho and Antonio Washington with 51 yards each.
“The intention of playing in week zero was to get us a game before going into our big game with Mustang and watching tonight, it did exactly what I wanted it to do,” Reed said. “Hopefully we will see a lot of improvement over the coming week. The big game is coming.”
By Chuck Reherman