Just as the Greeks did in the infamous Trojan War, the Yukon Millers will invade the land of the Trojans at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a road district battle with Jenks.
Yukon enters the game with a better overall record than Jenks. The Millers sit at 4-3 on the season and the Trojans are 3-4 but its Jenks who has the better district record at 3-0 compared to 2-1 for Yukon.
Since starting the season 0-4, Jenks has rattled off three consecutive wins, including a 27-13 upset win at Broken Arrow.
“We were hoping they were down this year,” Yukon coach Jeremy Reed said. “They are not. They played a really difficult schedule to open the season but they are playing very well right now. They look like a typical Jenks team. They are really fast defensively, very physical and play with great technique and discipline. There quarterback is a really good player and he has really good receivers to throw the ball to.”
One of the battles Yukon will face Thursday is the mental challenge of competing with Jenks.
“You have to believe in what you do,” Reed said. “A lot of it is mindset when you face a team like this and a program like this that has the tradition they have. You have to believe you will have a chance in the fourth and a chance to win the football game. We have to focus on what we can control and take care of our business.”
Several weeks ago, when Yukon hosted another east-side power in Broken Arrow, the Tigers jumped on the Millers right out of the gate and Yukon did not respond accordingly.
Reed said getting off to a good start against Jenks will be crucial.
“I know we are going to go in there and play hard,” Reed said. “The opening quarter is going to be huge for us. We are a confident group right now on both sides of the ball. We have to weather the storm in the first quarter and handle our business. We have gotten much better since we played Broken Arrow and we are playing our style of football right now.”
Traditionally, Jenks has been a physical running offense that likes to wear its opponents down with a massive offensive line and big, powerful running back. However, this year the Trojans have taken a different approach on the offensive-side of the ball.
“They definitely like to throw it more than they run it,” Reed said. “They are very fast and they like to utilize that speed in the passing game. They are Jenks, so they are going to run the ball as well. They aren’t enormous up front but they will play with great technique, so we have to prepare for both as a defense. Our defense has improved a lot recently and we are playing fast and physical.”
One of the differences on game day this week is the players will be on fall break, so they will not have their usual game day routine of being in school.
“I don’t like us being out of school on game day,” Reed said. “If it were up to me, we would be in school every day in the fall. We will have breakfast as a team Thursday morning and then go through our mock game and then I’ll release the players for a little bit before they come back to the facility. We will leave at 3:30 (p.m.).”
This time of the year, each team is facing nagging injuries and bumps and bruises. Reed said Yukon is in overall good shape on the injury front at this point.
“We are a little banged up like everyone else is,” Reed said. “That is normal for this time of year. We are healthy for the most part at this point in the season.”
This year is the 20th anniversary of the first time Yukon and Jenks played each other for the first time. In the 1997 state championship game, the Millers and Trojans played for the gold ball and it was Jenks coming out on top with a 56-8 win over Yukon.