By Chuck Reherman
Yukon’s rugby team will open the home portion of their schedule on Friday, hosting the Hillside XV’s.
The match will be played at Miller Pride Stadium at Yukon Middle School. The girls 7s team will open the night against Norman at 7:15 p.m.
The Millers will play at 7:30 p.m. and during the halftime, the girls will play a second match against Norman.
Yukon, 0-1, will be facing a new team in Hillside, who is made up of players from Capitol Hill High School. The team is coached by the former head coach of the Edmond Rugby Club.
“They have around 25 players out, mostly their football team and are getting a lot of support from their school,” Yukon head coach Aric Gilliland said. “I think they will be a physical team, that is what we have heard from teams they have scrimmaged earlier and from their match last week. They will be big and tough, have a lot of new players and are learning the game.
“Anytime you play a team from this coach, you will play a physical team,” Gilliland said. “They will play try to work their forwards hard and break our line in the center. We will have to rely on our speed on the edge to score some points.
“I told our team they will move the ball on us with their type of play it is not hard to not give up some ground. Our game plan is to play a bend but not break defense.”
The match will be a non-conference contest. Oklahoma Rugby has two divisions this year, a large and a small. Yukon is in the large division with Jenks, Norman, Tulsa Union and Bixby. Hillside is in the smaller division.
The Millers, who lost to Jenks in the season opener this past weekend in Oklahoma City, does have experience returning from last year.
Yukon has eight starters back from last year and has experience in their backs since they started a lot of young players last year.
“We started a lot of freshmen and sophomore’s last year and we will be young again, but they do have the year experience,” Gilliland said. “We don’t have size or a ton of speed, so we will have to rely on that experience.
“We always bring the potential to score a lot of points,” Gilliland said. “We will have to play tough on defense and we will have to take advantage of our time with the ball. We are going to have to move the ball and pass well, because we will have to spend a lot of energy on defense.”
The Millers return Chaselyn Parker and Edgar Galindo return at halfback and Gilliland said the pair have the most experience and will have to rely on them.
Luke Lombard brings experience back at forward along with Juan Ybarra. Both are seniors.
Xander Burleigh has been a standout in the pre-season and Gilliland said he has been a lights out in every match the team has played and will be one of the impact players for the Millers.”
By Chuck Reherman