Miami's 2007 football schedule can be broken down into three parts - the non-district, the early district and then the “get serious stage.
The Wardogs head into that part of the season Thursday night (it's a day early due to fall break) when they host Grove in a battle of ranked teams.
Miami broke into the Oklahoma AP high school top 10 for the first time this week. They had been 12th but moved up to 10th this week.
“It's exciting - it's the time where things have come to a head, Miami head coach Chris Risenhoover said. “We've taken care of our end to create this situation. Grove has done an outstanding job, with a target on its chest coming into the season. It's created a situation where a lot's on the line.
“It should be an exciting night. It's a big game in the northeastern part of the state.
Grove, which reached the Class 4A title game a year ago, has held down the No. 2 spot in 4A for most of the season.
“There are a lot of teams who would trade places with us - life is good in Grove, Okla., Grove head coach Dennis Millican said.
The Wardogs still have games with Oologah and Wagoner left on the schedule.
4 Grove bumped its record to 7-0 (4-0 in the district) with a 42-26 decision against Oologah last Friday.
4 Miami has won four straight since opening the season 1-2. It crushed Tulsa Webster 57-0 last Friday.
4 Wagoner (6-1) also is working on a four-game win streak since falling to Coweta in Week 3. The Bulldogs bounced Jay 31-3 last Friday.
4 Oologah has won just two games (2-5), but both have come in 4A-3 play. As a result, the Mustangs hold down the No. 4 position in the district.
Grove routed Miami 54-28 in last year's meeting, a game that saw the teams combined for 929 yards in total offense. The 54 points was the most ever in the series for the winner.
The Ridgerunners finished with 524 while Miami - which had four turnovers - netted 405.
“It was a scorefest, Millican said. “It had to be a fun game to watch. It's not exactly how we drew it up, but they did some things to help us. They put the ball on the ground at inopportune times for them and at good times for us.
The Grove offense hasn't missed a beat despite the loss of Colton Gehrke and a couple other starters over the course of the season.
Gehrke, who had 2,626 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career, had surgery in the off-season for a knee injury suffered in the playoffs. However, he tweaked the injury during preseason drills and needed additional surgery that has kept him out the whole season.
Corey Davenport has taken up some of the slack by rushing for 641 yards and seven TDs.
“Davenport is a heck of an all-around athlete, Millican said. “He has replaced Colton well at running back. We have put him at various positions on the field so he can be a thorn with catching it or if he's running with it. If we could clone him, he'd be playing more defense.
The quarterbacks have been the offensive keys for both teams.
Grove senior Darrius Hopper has rushed for 651 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 67 of 127 passes for 878 yards and eight touchdowns.
“They are right there in touchdowns and rushing yardage, Millican said. “It's a 1-2 punch a lot of people would love to have.
Junior Dusty Gehrke has caught 25 passes for 405 yards and six touchdowns while Michael Hudgens and George Mayme have 12 and nine catches, respectively. Mayme has scored twice.
“They've beaten some quality football teams, Risenhoover said. “They are an explosive football team with good quality players at every spot. They have a couple of exceptional players in Davenport and Hopper, then there's the Gehrke kid (junior wide receiver Dusty Gehrke) at safety and receiver and the Bartley kid (senior R.J. Bartley) at linebacker. They are right were they belong in the rankings.
Miami junior Grant Longcrier has thrown for 1,223 yards and 15 touchdown. That's already the third best total in school history. Kaelin Woods, now seeing considerable action at Northeastern A&M, set the record in 2005 with 2,556 yards and he's also No. 2, throwing for 1,999 yards in 2004.
Longcrier also has picked up 483 yards on the ground with four touchdowns.
Tye Turley turned in one of the top individual performances in school history when he had five touchdowns in a 57-0 romp over Tulsa Webster. He got four on the ground while rushing for 150 yards, and caught a pass for another score.
On the season, Turley has 629 yards on only 95 attempts, an average of 6.62 yards per carry. He's scored nine times.
“He played well, Risenhoover said. “He showed some power and explosiveness running through a number of tackles on that screen play (a 65-yard touchdown catch from Longcrier in the third quarter).
Miami's offense has lived up to its name - the spread.
Twelve different players have run the football while eight different players have caught at least one pass.
“Miami has a very wide open offense, Millican said. “Longcrier is a very good quarterback. If Turley and (Trent) Turner can get the ball in their hands, they can go. They can score a lot of touchdowns and eat up a lot of yards. Defensively, they are very good up front.