By Chuck Reherman
Yukon will take aim at something the Millers have not accomplished since the 2010 season.
A 3-0 start.
The Millers will wrap up their non-district season tonight with their third straight home game, hosting Moore in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Miller Stadium.
YHS and Moore have not met since the 2013 season and the Millers will take a four-game win streak over the Lions into the game.
The Millers come into the game after ending a four-game losing skid to Mustang, 19-14, while Moore is 0-1 after a 35-6 loss to Westmoore.
Coming off a win over your biggest rival sometimes leads to the following week being called a “trap game.” YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said he looks for his team to be focused on Moore this week and not the game before.
“We had a great visit with our kids when we lifted and had our meetings and we will find out more about our maturity as a team,” Reed said. “Everything that was said was very good, our leadership counsel spoke a little bit and all the right things were said. I felt like the message was clear.
“There challenge is that we were out of school for two days and this victory is going to linger on with the student body,” he said. “We came back to school on Wednesday and they are going to be excited. But, for the 80 some players in the Wellness Center, we are on to Moore. That is kind of terrible you have move on that fast from a big win, but that is sport. If you stick around too long, you let a win turn into a loss.
“The biggest challenge won’t have anything to do with our practices, but our time outside of practice. We talked about how to handle that, but we are in unchartered territory for these kids. They haven’t had this type of opening in a season, being 2-0, knocking off your big rivals. I told them you can’t go down a path unless you have been down it yourself, so they have to rely on us as coaches who have been down that path and trust us on how to handle the success.”
The Lions are one of those teams that are hungry for success as well. Moore had a 5-5 season in 2016, but has not won more than four games in any year in the last six. And MHS got off to a rocky start against one of their rivals in the loss to Westmoore in their opener.
And, the Lions are a team that is athletic enough to pull off an upset win.
“When you flip on film, you see some really good looking kids in Moore,” Reed said. “They have a quarterback (Daniel Hishaw) that gets a lot of attention. They line him up at quarterback, runningback, receiver, they try to get the ball in his hands. And rightfully so, he is a good runner.
“He is an adequate passer, they will throw it a little bit, but it is not what they hang their hat on,” he added. “He is a run first guy and they have a few players that are complimentary. They did have to replace their offensive line.
“Defensively, they return six starters from a team that went to the playoffs. They will be a lot different team than what Westmoore saw. They made a lot of mistakes and a lot of first game mistakes. We have to be very, very prepared because we will see a lot better Moore team than what Westmoore saw.”
Moore will also see a better YHS team than the week before, especially on offense. Yukon did roll up nearly 500 yards of offense on the Broncos, but mistakes led to both MHS touchdowns and kept the Millers from scoring on at least four drives.
Moore will see a Miller defense that has shut down their first two opponents and not allowed a point. Opposing offenses have averaged just under 150 yards a game in those first two outings.
The defensive front of Owen Olsen, Cody Burch, Jacoby Kopepesah and Caimon McGee have controlled opposing teams front lines and the linebacker corps of Kale Fouts, Cade Peters and Jacob Pendergrass have played a key role to shutting down opposing team’s running games.
“I our mindset, specifically defense, has completely changed,” Reed said. “You can tell the difference just by the way our kids enter the field. We have a lot more confidence and that fits our defense. We had a good off-season that challenged our kids mentally and physically.
“A lot of things we did in the off-season is showing up on the defensive side of the ball and it makes it fun to watch,” he added.
The Millers will again be a balanced running attack. Antonio Washington rushed for a career high 135 yards last week and B-back Noah Davis had 105 yards rushing. YHS had 385 yards on the ground.
“We have to eliminate turnovers, those turnovers have been very costly and once we do that we can become a very good football team,” Reed said.
With both teams coming off rivalry games, this one will come down to who puts that game behind them and is more prepared this week.
“I can see that going either way. Last year we came off a big loss and went to Norman North and go a big win. A lot of that falls on your teams mindset, their maturity and culture. I can see one of two things, they will come over and still be sad for their loss, or they we will reset and be very focused on what is ahead of them. I just don’t know that much about them to know which what they will go.
“We have to be prepared like we will see a very, very good Moore team. They have the capabilities of being pretty good.”
By Chuck Reherman