By Chuck Reherman
Yukon faces a not so familiar foe when the Millers take the field Thursday night.
The Millers host Owasso in a class 6AI-2 key district game at Miller Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The teams have not met since the 2009 season (Owasso came away with a 29-26 win in a district game) and the teams have met only twice in the schools history.
Owasso comes into the game with a 2-4 record (1-2 in district play) and unfamiliar area for the Rams, who have been considered one of the power four teams in 6AI. Owasso picked up its second win of the season last week, beating Edmond North 30-16.
The Millers are 1-5 on the season, 0-3 in district play and with only four district games remaining, see this as an important game and one the team needs to come away with a win.
“Owasso’s record is deceiving, they are not a bad team,” Miller head coach Marshall Hahn said. “Those are dangerous words when you talk about a team like Owasso. They lost a really special talent to their team in the first week of the season against Bixby (Cole Adams) and it taken them a little while to find their footing because they relied on him to do so many different things. A lot of their offense went through him in various ways and it has taken time to recalibrate what they wanted to do.
“Owasso has quite a bit of speed from what we have seen,” Hahn said. “They are playing quite a few younger players. They run the ball well and are a well balanced team. Coach (Bill) Blankenship always finds a way to get things offensively that create an alignment conflicts. We have seen that on film.”
Hahn does have some familiarity with Blankenship. When Hahn coached at Rogers, AR., Blankenship was at Fayetteville and the two schools play each other every year.
“His teams are always well coached and they do a good job with them,” Hahn said. “If they want to throw it or run it, they can establish a run game, but they are going to take their shots also.
“Defensively, they are multiple in their alignments and have the ability to alter their defensive look from week to week,” he said. “Of course, we haven’t played them in a long time so we don’t have any video of them against us in the recent past to go back to. So, we will find out Thursday what their game plan is for the Yukon Millers.”
The Owasso offense is led by quarterback Tyler Caviness, who connected with Anthony Hills on a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 27-13 lead with 7:59 left in the fourth quarter against Edmond North. Hills has stepped in to be the big play maker for the Rams on offense.
The running game is led by Tariek Johnson and J’Kharri Thomas, who both had big games last week running the ball.
The Rams do have a big front line led by Gavin Bohanan (6-3, 285), Koen Ponder, 6-1, 285 and Ryan Case (6-3, 280).\
The Rams defense has allowed points this season, giving up an average of 28 points a game. The Rams have been young on defense, led by linebacker Braeden Foster and defensive tackle Tyler Rich.
“If they could run it consistently, that would be their preference, but they do have a quarterback that is a capable passer,” Hahn said. “They are not a spread it out four receivers type of team, they use multiple tight ends and get a fullback or H-back type of player in the game.
“They try to create an extra gap so when you have to commit enough hats to that, they try to take advantage in the pass game,” he said. “They have played a really tough schedule and have had some tough breaks on the injury side of things, but they have a good enough defense to keep their offense in the game.
“They are predominantly a 4-3 defense, but at times looks like an odd man front because they stand their weakside end up like a linebacker. They get a lot of help from their secondary. They just play good, solid defense.”
The Millers have shown improvement, but have made mistakes that have hindered the offense. YHS had three drives of 13 to 15 plays that came away empty.
Quarterback Logan Troxell has been leading the Miller offense in both the run and pass game and runningbacks Logan Day and Jesse Eakers have run the ball well.
“We have to eliminate big plays on defense and protect the ball on offense with no turnovers,” Hahn said. “We have to find some ways to make some plays, especially since our special teams have hurt us the last couple of weeks. We had some mistakes in the punt game against union and again this past week as well as missing two field goals.”