By Chuck Reherman
With three games remaining in the season and the scramble for the playoff race on the line, Yukon is in that proverbial “must win situation.”
The Millers close out the road portion on their schedule Friday, at YHS heads east to take on No. 2 ranked Broken Arrow. in a critical District 6AI-1 contest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Millers, 2-5 overall are currently sitting in sixth place in the district race with a 1-3 record and behind a five-way tie for first place. Broken Arrow, Jenks, Edmond Santa Fe, Norman and Westmoore are all tied for first with 3-1 records.
YHS will need a win Friday night and then also some help to be able to break a five-year absence from the playoffs. The Millers have not made it to the post season since class 6A was split into Division 1 and Division 2.
The Millers have not beaten Broken Arrow in their previous meetings. Both teams come into the game off losses. The Millers lost to Westmoore in a 50-49 heartbreaker, while Broken Arrow was upset by Edmond Santa Fe, 23-21, on the Tigers’ home field.
Miller head coach Jeremy Reed and his staff will be looking to regroup their team after the loss last week and re-focus their attention on facing the top team in the district.
“We know we will have a challenge ahead of us with Broken Arrow, but I think we will have more confidene going into this game,” Reed said. “Anytime you get a big win over a team that beats someone that in predictors eyes is superior, it gives you hope. So I think our kids see that and see the giant can be taken down. There is no doubt it gave our kids a different outlook as we come back and get ready for what is week eight.
“One thing I have reminded this team daily since that Santa Fe game is that they have what it takes to play with everybody on our schedule,” he said. “It is going to take that type of preparation prior to Friday nights and that kind of effort on game night to be in the game with the type of opponents we have been playing.
“You take the five games we are ending on as of Friday night. Norman, Jenks, Santa Fe, Westmoore and Broken Arrow, everyone of those are 3-1 in our district and ranked in the top 10. If you can find a tougher five game stretch in Oklahoma football, I want to see it. We are doing that with an exremely young football team and with the exception of one game, we are in everyone of those football games.
“That has become the standard here. In the years prior to use coming to Yukon it hasn’t been the case. The standard is we are going to be in every football game and we are going to have a shot and our kids are starting to see that. I told them that in my opinion that although we had a great season last year and did a lot of great things in year one, I thought the Westmoore game was the first time I saw a team play with no fear. I see a lot of times that went we go play opponents on the west side that are maybe thought of as superior to Yukon or we play an east side school where we are okay when things are going good but when things go bad we are in the tank. We challenged them last week to be fearless, lay it on the line and see what happens. I felt they did that and unfortunately they got their hearts broke because we laid it in the line and it didn’t come out the way they wanted it to.
“The next step is now is can I lay it all on the line when there is sometimes disappointment when I do that. That is my job to try and get that accomplished.”
The Millers face a Broken Arrow team that has played steady all year. The Tigers did roll over Westmoore 55-14 two weeks ago, but have used their defense more than offense to win games.
The young Miller defense will have to face one of the best offensive lines in the state led by Andrew Raym (6-5, 295) who is regarded as the best offensive lineman in the country. BAHS also has another college prospect in Trevor Burckhartzmetyer (6-2, 285) to open holes in the running game.
The Tigers do have big play runners in Kejuan Tolbert and Maurion Horn in the backfield.
On defense, Bryce Mattioda has received several D-1 offers at strong safety and the Tigers have plugged in talented players to fill the gaps that were left by graduation.
“We know Broken Arrow will be physical and they are more old school than we are,” Reed said. “They are in two or three back, two right end and like to line up and run it right down your throat.
“They have a great O-line and even though their runningback hasn’t played in a couple of weeks, they have the luxury to just roll another in.”
The Millers will be looking to get that first ever win against the Tigers.
“I thought we did during the Jenks week by giving them examples of other teams and even coaches we have had against east side teams and we need to do that again this week,” he said. “We need to continue to build their confidence in how good they are. Ultimately it has to be each and every kid going it is just another football game. They are the same age as us, the same class as us, you just have to convince yourself.”
“I felt like when we went to Jenks as we were going to the game we had done everything and our kids were in a good place mentally,” he said. “But, obviously when we started playing I saw a much different picture than during he work week.
“The players have a decision to make as we get on the bus and go over there to play on Friday are we going to play like we did against Westmoore or show up and play like we did against Jenks. We won’t know until 7 p.m. which team that is. we will continue to prepare them we always do and give them the best shot for success, but ultimately they have to decide if they want to go and play at that level.”
By Chuck Reherman