By Chuck Reherman
Yukon has its sights set on ending a four-game losing skid tonight as the Millers make a trek to the North to face Enid in a District 6A-1 game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at D. Bruce Selby Stadium in Enid.
The Millers, 4-4, will go in seeking to earn its fifth win of the season and their second district win. YHS, 1-4, in district, still have a slight chance of making the playoffs, but need a win over the 1-7 Plainsmen, who are 0-5 in district play.
YHS and Enid have not met on the field during the regular season in recent years, but have scrimmaged each other in the past.
And, although the Plainsmen have won only one game this season, YHS head coach Jeremy Reed said the Millers will be expecting a challenge and this is one team they cannot over look.
“Enid has one of the very best runningbacks we have seen all year,” Reed said. “He’s 6-1 200-pounds and if he gets in the open, he is gone. As far as individual players, he is one of the best we gave seen all year.
“Our last four games, we have played arguably three of the teams we have played are the best in the state,” he said. “Not like Enid is some team we can roll our JV out and beat by any means they are not like a bad team, but the level of play goes a little more even than what we have been used to. We talked to our players about how important it is for us to finish this season and play to the very best of our ability. And, if we do that Friday night, we have a golden opportunity to get to .500.”
The Millers have not finished the season with a winning record since 2013 (YHS went 6-4, then lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Lawton) and finishing with above a .500 record would help in turning the YHS program around in Reed’s second year.
“We told the seniors what do want to leave with,” Reed said. “They have the chance to leave as the winningest Yukon team since moving into class 6A1 by leaps and bounds. Last year the bar was set at four wins and we can finish with six. Prior to that, the most games won in 6A1 was two. You can leave a very high bar for the others to try and reach in the future and that has to be some kind of motivation if you are a senior class to leave a good mark on the program.”
Enid has been a team that features the running of tailback Will Phillips, who had 186 yards rushing in a 42-20 loss to Edmond Memorial last year and is closing in on 1,000.
His work load may be more prevalent this week after starting quarterback Titan Stephens broke a bone in his ankle and will miss the rest of the season. Sophomore quarterback Maddux Mayberry, who came on after backup Blake Priest could not move the team. Mayberry completed nine of 11 passes for 61 yards in the game and will earn the start this week.
Enid head coach Steve Hayes said he was impressed with Mayberry and his decision making. Mayberry has been the Plainsmen’s starting junior varsity quarterback, but Friday night was his first varsity snaps. Hayes said the team changed to a play script that was comfortable for Mayberry and will adjust their offense to fit his play against the Millers.
“Enid is a tempo team and will try to tempo you,” Reed said. “They will get into a spread package, put two backs in the backfield and will run the ball a ton with the Phillips kid.
“We know their quarterback was hurt last week and didn’t know if he would play or not this week,” he said. “He is a good runner also, but has thrown the ball better in recent weeks. Their good runningback has a younger brother that is also a pretty good back.”
Defensively, the Plainsmen has given up 40 or more points in six of their seven losses (that one was 31 points), but do have some key elements that could give the Millers problems. Linebacker Hayden Priest, who missed last week’s game, is expected to be in the line-up against the Millers.
The game will be the longest road trip of the season for the Millers, who will be playing away for only the third time. But, Reed doesn’t see that as a problem and said for him after coaching at places Altus, this trip is just another short jaunt on the road.
“For me these road trips don’t seem every long because I am used to an one and half is substandard if you live in Altus,” he said. “That is the second shortest road trip of the year out there. I haven’t heard the players talk much about it. The thing we have to do is bring our own energy.
“It is a longer trip that people of Yukon are used to and there is a chance we may not have a huge following, who knows as far a student section, band, fans,” he added. “So, we have to bring our own energy and ultimately we have to play thus game because we want to be great. As much as it pains me to say, we still have not played a complete football game. It makes me scratch and my and wonder why and I’m sure it will linger into the off season.
“It is important for me to see us play a complete football game and there is no better time for than now.
“We have to play like we have something to prove and we do. That is that we are a good football team and we need to finish like a good football team does and that is with wins.”
By Chuck Reherman