It's easy for a team to look past an opponent, especially when a big game is looming on the horizon.
That's what Miami head coach Chris Risenhoover hopes to avoid when his Wardogs host Pryor Friday night.
After all, the Tigers are 2-6 and have lost four straight and five of six to fall off the pace in District 5A-3. And MHS has won three straight after a 1-5 start, giving it a genuine shot at a playoff berth in its first season back in 5A.
“What scares me is the kids looking ahead to the Kelley game (next Friday) and maybe looking at Pryor's scores the last couple weeks,” Risenhoover said.
The Wardogs wrap up the regular season Nov. 7 at Kelley in a game that likely will decide third place.
Washington and Bixby - both 5-0 in 5A-3 play - likely will play for the district title on Week 10. Miami and Kelley are both 3-2 in the district.
While the Dogs are battling Pryor, Kelley hosts 1-7 Tulsa Hale.
“Bixby, Booker T. (Washington) and Kelley took care of business (against Pryor),” Risenhoover said. “That's what we need to do. We started a little flat last week on our first possession. We need to go get that thing in the end zone and we need to show that we are the dominant team.”
Miami flattened Hale 46-8 last Thursday in a game that was played with a continuous clock in the second half.
But it took a while for the Wardogs to get rolling.
Their first possession fizzled when a 34-yard field goal by Seth Rhodes was off the mark.
The defense got the Miami's first points, a 40-yard combined interception-fumble return by Chad Johnston and then Trey Flick.
The first offensive touchdown was a back-breaker, a 79-yard pass from Trent Turner to Grant Longcrier, the first of five Longcrier would have a hand in over the evening.
He ran for two TDs, caught two touchdown passes and threw for another.
“Miami is good,” Pryor head coach J.R. Winton said. “They are playing awfully well right now. Longcrier has done a great job for them.”
The Wardogs' offense has generated 2,462 yards - 1,238 on the ground and 1,224 via the airways. Defensively, the Dogs have yielded 1,230 rushing yards and only 937 on passes.
“You look back and this is possibly one of strongest teams we've had in the last five years,” Risenhoover said. “The record doesn't reflect it because of the Wagoner game that didn't go our way and a game against Bixby I would love to have over. You add those two and you're talking about a team that could be ranked in the top 8 in the state right now and a factor in everybody's mind.
“Instead, we're just kinda flying under the radar getting ready to make a run in the back half of the season. I feel good about how we're closing. We have some momentum. We're probably peaking at the right time.”
The Tigers split their first four games, beating Locust Grove and Rogers while losing to Vinita and Jay. Injuries and the toughest part of the schedule took their toll.
“We're beat up right now,” Winton said. “We have six starters out, so we're starting a bunch of sophomores.”