It's just Week 6 of the 2008 high school football season and Miami already has its back firmly against the wall.
Or, as head coach Chris Risenhoover puts it, “it's a must win for us Š we're in a position where if we don't get this one done, or there's a chance we will be out of the playoffs.”
The Wardogs, who have won just once in five starts, are winless in both of their District 5A-3 games, including a 48-28 setback last week at the hands of Tulsa Washington.
They hope to change that Friday night at Skiatook, but it won't be easy: the Bulldogs are off to a 4-1 start and are 2-0 in 5A-3 play.
Skiatook struggled to a 3-7 record a year ago and graduated eight of its 11 defensive starters.
However, senior quarterback Jason Vail returned, as did two of the team's top receivers in senior Aaron Tomlinson and junior Drake Keys.
Vail has completed 24 of his 53 pass attempts for 412 yards and seven touchdowns.
Junior tailback Seth Stanton already has rushed for 811 yards and four touchdowns, “with a lot of help from the offensive line,” said head coach Lance Miller, who was at Glencoe last season after a successful seven-year stint at Hominy.
“They have a solid running game and their defense hasn't given up too many points other than in their loss to Collinsville,” Risenhoover said.
“The kids are just working hard and they're doing a good job,” Miller said. “They've been trying to get better each week.”
How tough has the schedule been?
Four of the first five teams are ranked - Booker T is second in 5A, Bixby is sixth in 5A, Grove is second in 4A and Wagoner is seventh in 4A.
And the combined record of the Dogs' first five opponents is 18-7. Grove is 5-0 while Washington is 4-1. The other three schools are 3-2 heading into Friday.
The remaining schedule includes 1-4 Tulsa Rogers, 1-4 Tulsa Hale, 2-3 Pryor and 3-2 Tulsa Kelley.
The games with Rogers and Hale will be on back-to-back Thursdays.
“It's probably going to come down to us, Pryor, Kelley and Skiatook battling for those third and fourth spots,” Risenhoover said. “It's not the way we wanted it, but that's the way the district has played out. We're disappointed that we're sitting there 1-4, but we've got to make our own breaks. We didn't. play sharp enough. We've been our own worst enemy through the first five games. “
Miami generated a season-best 375 yards in total offense against Washington. Quarterback Trent Turner completed 13 of 24 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Turner also rushed for 121 yards on 22 carries.
Another plus in the game for Miami was the fact that they got their first third-quarter touchdowns of the season against the Hornets.
Nathan Hazley scored on a 2-yard run, then Turner teamed with Grant Longcrier on a 26-yard strike that pulled Miami to within 13 points. However, back-to-back scores by Washington put the game out of reach.
Their only second-half points through the first four weeks had come in the fourth quarter - including a 26-yard field goal by Seth Rhodes late in the game that sealed a 31-28 victory over Jay for MHS' lone win.
“You can't judge them by their record because they've played teams tough,” Miller said. “Miami is very talented. You can tell they are well coached.”
“It's time we put it all together,” Risenhoover said. “If we do that and and get into the playoffs, I think we will be a formidable opponent.”