MIAMI — Miami heads into the home opener riding some momentum.
Not only did the Wardogs — who host Jay Friday, Aug. 31, at Red Robertson Field — get a 24-10 win in the season opener against Claremore Sequoyah, they turned in a big fourth-and-goal defensive stand to keep the Eagles out of the end zone inside the final minute.
“I am excited for these kids to play under the home atmosphere considering the way we traveled to Claremore Sequoyah the other night and what that brought to us,” head coach Zach Gardner said. “A lot of people are talking. Everybody has seen the score. Now it’s time to prove it to the home crowd.
“I am looking forward to it for sure and I know the kids are. They’ve been talking about it all week.”
The win over Sequoyah was Miami’s first in an opener since 2014 and marked the first time a MHS coach had won in his debut since 2011.
The 24 points are the most in a season opener since the 31-13 win over Grove in 2014, a game that is noteworthy for two reasons:
The final 37 seconds were not played because of problems with the new lighting system at Red Robertson Field.
The game also marked the debut of Wil Amos, who played for the Ridgerunners one season then transferred to Afton. He played a huge role in the Eagles’ march to the Class A state title — with Gardner at the helm.
This will be the first time the Wardogs and Bulldogs have squared off since 2011, when Jay outslugged the Wardogs 39-28.
That narrowed MHS’ lead in the series to 15-6.
“Coach Kirk (Jay head coach Warren Kirk) has done a good job with the program the last couple years,” Gardner said. “They graduated quite few, but we are ready for them. We are kinda going to be outsized up front, but that’s how it’s going to be all year.”
The Bulldogs were 10-2 last season, losing to Sperry in the second round of the 3A playoffs.
That came just one season removed from a 1-9 showing, Kirk’s first season at Jay.
Taking control in the trenches was a key against Sequoyah.
Miami cranked out 281 yards in total offense against Sequoyah, with 205 of that coming on the ground.
After battling to a 10-10 halftime draw, the Dogs scored three times in the second half to pull away from Sequoyah.
A fourth-down pass by Damion Burris on fourth-and-goal from the 10 blunted the Eagles’ final chance at scoring again.
Tanner Maple, Joseph Armstrong and Matt Horn were in double-digits defensively.
Maple logged one tackle and 16 assists, Armstrong had three tackles, 10 assists and an interception and Horn finished with one tackle, 11 helps and a fumble recovery.
Jorge Moreno had Miami’s other fumble recovery.
Alex Pulley logged one sack that resulted in a 3-yard loss.
“I know sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t show what the effort is and I know we are going to control the effort, for sure,” Gardner said.
Miami wraps up the non-district portion of the schedule on Friday, Sept. 7, traveling to Tahlequah Sequoyah.
They have a bye week before embarking on district play Sept. 21, hosting Grove.
That will mark the first time the Wardogs have had a week off in the regular season since 2001, when a home game with Bixby was cancelled just days after the attack on the World Trade Center.