ROGERS, Ark. - They've already got one win over Rogers this summer during a 7-on-7 tournament at Little Rock, Ark.
Now Miami goes for the one that counts -Friday night's season opener at a refurbished Gates Stadium here.
The Wardogs, who suffered a 35-0 loss to Rogers in the 2006 opener at Robertson Field, got a touchdown catch from Nick Henson on the final play for a 31-26 victory in a pool game at the Shootout of the South in June.
"Obviously, that's a little boost," Miami head coach Chris Risenhoover said. "It lets our kids know we can get it done on the perimeter with them."
The 2006 Mounties were one of the most talent-rich teams Miami has seen in ages - and it showed.
They put together one of the school's most successful seasons ever, including an undefeated 7A-West Conference championship, a trip to the Class 7A state finals and a school record for wins, 12.
Five players signed with NCAA schools - quarterback Cody Kirby (Missouri State), offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (Auburn), defensive lineman Derek Smith (Central Arkansas) and receivers Chad Peachey (Missouri State) and Taylor Gleghorn (Tulsa).
"I am excited about our football team," Risenhoover said. "Even though we've got a heck of an opponent to start the season, but watching them on scrimmage tapes, they are not the same team they were last year. They are still dang good and we will have all we want. "They have excellent players here and there but it's just not an across-the-board, great-great football team like we saw last year. We know that we've got to go down there and really execute well, play as a football team, stay together and battle through it. If the ball bounces our way, we may have an opportunity to sneak out of there with a win."
Finding a replacement for Kirby had been one of the main priorities for the Mounties.
Kolby Keller, a 6-2, 185-pound senior, was named the starter by head coach Ronnie Peacock on Monday.
Keller and fellow senior Trevor Evans had battled for the starting job since spring practice and both logged almost equal time in last week's scrimmage against West Memphis in Little Rock.
"It's time to give him (Keller) a shot and see how he performs under pressure," Peacock told The Morning News. "Keller was the most consistent and it's time to make a statement that he is the guy. Keller can do the job and it is time to perform."
Keller won't be pulled at the first mistake but Peacock told The Morning News there is still plenty of competition for playing time. Sophomores Casey Wilber and Andy Couture could also work themselves into the mix.
"There will be pressure to perform because there is somebody right there nipping at you," Peacock said.
“If he makes a mistake, he won't come out,” Peacock said. “But I will evaluate him.”
One of the biggest keys to the game will be how much a seasoned quarterback can make a difference in the outcome, Risenhoover said.
Grant Longcrier had moved into the starting job following the graduation of record-setter Kaelin Wood. He held the job until breaking his collarbone Week 5.
“Last year they had a huge advantage over us in that department,” Risenhoover said. “They had a guy (Kirby) who had been the starter since his sophomore year and he was expecting big thing for his senior year. We were playing with one (Longcrier) that eight months before only had freshman and junior high experience. Now ours has a year under his belt and they have a new one.”
Risenhoover thinks Miami's scrimmage schedule (Sallisaw, Muskogee, Tahlequah and Vinita) has prepared his Wardogs well.
“We've seen some speed and some excellent teams already,” he said. “I don't think our kids will be in awe as if we didn't participate in scrimmages against Muskogee and some others. We won't see any better than the front seven at Muskogee and Muskogee and Vinita's secondary.”
Joining Longcrier in the Dogs' retooled backfield will be Tye Turley and Jeff Meeks at running back.
Michael Anderson and Grant Bigby will lineup at Y with Josh White and Trent Turner at H. Nick Henson, Chris Smith and James Pickens are in the rotation at outside receiver.
The Dogs get a second look at Sallisaw next Friday when they host the Black Diamonds in the home opener at Robertson Field.