By TERRY GROOVER
The Yukon High School football team is in a rebuilding phase.
The team has a significant number of new coaches, not to mention only a handful of returning starters from last year’s team that missed the playoff by one game.
Despite the changes, which include a new defensive coordinator, the Millers’ coach is optimistic about what awaits this year’s squad.
The team hit the field for the first time on Monday, joining other high schools across the state for the beginning of fall workouts.
Monday was the first day that teams could work out as a unit under rules set by the Oklahoma Secondary Activities Association.
Jeremy Reed’s team practiced beginning at 6 p.m. They will con-tinue that schedule throughout the week with the program’s annual media day on Saturday. The teams will have intrasquad scrimmages that evening.
The Millers are young with only a handful of returning starters back from last year’s team.
Five of those starters are on the offense, while there is only one fulltime starter back on defense.
So, Reed said he expects to rebuild this year.
But he believes they have the talent to be successful in what he describes as a brutal district.
Both Broken Arrow and Jenks, two of the state’s traditional top programs, are on Yukon’s schedule. Both games also are on the road.
In fact, Yukon won’t play a home game until October, but Reed said that doesn’t really bother him, especially with most of the team having not played on Friday nights.
“The approach I am taking is that we have a young, inexperienced team on the field. I feel like when you have a young team, they play better on the road because there are less distractions,” Reed said. “That is how I am approaching it, and making sure I get the message across to our kids that being on the road four weeks in a row may look like a big challenge for us, but it could be a blessing disguise.”
Reed is beginning his third year at the helm of the Millers. He said that consistency should help the team as it prepares for its season-opening game at Edmond North on Aug. 30.
“It’s a huge benefit being in a program for consistency. … This is a positive on our side, with the kids understanding the day-to-day expectations. They understand what time is asked of them, and how the rhythm of things will go. Those are things that will help us through the early part of the year with the on-field inexperience,” he said.
Offensively, the Millers will continue to use the flex-bone. Defensively, there is a new coordinator and a new scheme.
However, the team has been working on the new look since the spring.
Reed lost much of his defensive coaching staff, but found strong replacements.
“Although our staff has a lot of new faces, all of our kids know them quite well because of spring practice and the summer weightlifiting and conditioning programs,” he said.
The coaching staff also has spent a lot of time together in meengs.
“I am really excited about this staff. I really feel like we are meshing well,” he said.
Reed said he doesn’t expect those coaching changes to be a factor in the team’s success.
The coach said his goal is to make the playoffs, something the team has missed by one game each of the last two years.
“The expectations keeping going up. Even though, we know that some people are stacking the odds against us. We still think the next step for our program is to get into the playoffs. That is what the kids have voiced, and we’re in agreement. We need to take that next step,” Reed said.