Miami head coach Chris Risenhoover doesn't want his Wardogs to get stressed out by the fact that traditional large-school powerhouse Tulsa Booker T. Washington comes calling Friday night.
“The kids know they are 17- and 18-year old kids just like themselves and we're more than capable of playing at a high level and getting at the level we need to be in this football game with them,” Risenhoover said.
The Hornets are off to a 3-1 start, the lone setback a 24-14 loss to 6A No. 1 Broken Arrow.
They've beaten 5A No. 5 Midwest City Carl Albert, 5A No. 4 Tulsa East Central and 5A No. 9 Tulsa Kelley.
Miami stands 1-3 thus far, it's schedule also loaded with top 10 teams.
The lone victory a 31-28 decision against Jay.
The Wardogs have been beaten by 4A No. 7 Wagoner, 4A No. 2 Grove and 5A No. 8 Bixby.
“We've got to pick things up on the offensive end,” Risenhoover said. “We haven't come near to playing at the pace we need to play at. We've worked on that this week, trying to improve on the timing of our offense. They need to understand they fulfill their assignment each and every snap because if there's one breakdown, the play ends up not being successful. That's been the think that's kept us from rolling.
“If we can get those things ironed out, we will be OK.”
MHS led Bixby by three points with less than 5 minutes remaining, but two scores in the span of 34 seconds turned a 10-7 deficit into a 21-10 lead for the Spartans.
“That is sickening because we left at least 10 points out on the field during the first half,” Risenhoover said. “Instead of going in with a 10-7 lead, we could have led 20-7. If you go to the other extreme, we could have put even more on the board. We had a screen (pass) on the 4-yard line then jump offsides. We throw a ball and drop it. That kind of stuff has to end if we want to compete in this caliber of schedule.”
The Dogs, who got the ball at the Bixby 23-yard line after a fumble recovery by Grand Longcrier, had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Seth Rhodes. That gave them a 3-0 advantage with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
Their only other points came on a 16-yard TD pass from Trent Turner to Longcrier with 9:41 until intermission.
Bixby took the ensuing kickoff and drove 96 yards for its first touchdown, a 22-yard run by Dewitt Jennings.
That narrowed the gap to 10-7, which the Wardogs nursed until the final minutes of play.
It's been 24 years since the Hornets won a championship, but some think they have the tools to end that dry spell. They're coming off a two-year stay in 6A.
“They are fast in the skill positions, big in the lines and are very athletic at linebacker,” Risenhoover said. “They will be the most talented football team we've faced. We will need to play as a unit a little tighter than they do and our execution must be flawless”
Eric Bennett was expected to be the Hornets' starting quarterback, but he's been idled by a hairline fracture on his right (throwing) hand suffered against East Central.
Taking his place has been wide receiver Justin Skillens, who accounted for three touchdowns in a 35-15 win over Kelley last Friday.
Skillens scored on an 74-yard keeper in the first quarter, teamed with Tyler Lockett on an 82-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, then threw a 16-yard TD pass to Tony Daniels Jr. late in the game.
“He's obviously a very special athlete,” Risenhoover said. “If he's their choice at QB out of all they have, then he can definitely do all the things you look for in a kid.”
Michael Doctor, a two-way standout for Washington, has committed to Oregon State. He had touchdown runs of 80 and 23 yards against Kelley while gaining 175 yards. He's got 495 yards in four games already,
“They will just line up and give it to the tailback,” Risenhoover said. “They will run some option and let the quarterback make plays on the perimeter.”
The Wardogs will be minus Josh White and Zack Clark, both sidelined by knee injuries suffered in the loss to Bixby.
However, Connor Risenhoover has been cleared to return to practice. He's going to play tight end or may even move to center to lend depth there with the loss of Clark.
Joseph Edmondson will take over at center, Chris Risenhoover said.
The Wardogs travel to Skiatook next Friday.