MIAMI — This is not a misprint: Miami opens the 2018 football season on Friday, Aug. 24.
The Wardogs are a growing number of teams who will take advantage of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association’s Week Zero rule.
That allows teams who run into scheduling problems to play a 10th game on what normally would be the second week of scrimmages.
This is a first for Miami, but it was necessary since athletic director Chad Davis was having trouble finding a third non-district opponent where schedules matched.
Because of the Week Zero game, the Dogs will be idle on Sept. 14 — giving them two weeks to prepare for the District 4A-3 opener at home with Grove.
Miami’s only preseason scrimmage was last Friday at Red Robertson Field with Locust Grove and Dewey.
“Going into it from a coaching standpoint, we are used to just having one scrimmage (at Afton), but not the less-time factor as far as practices,” Miami head coach Zach Gardner said. “It’s been a struggle trying to get everything in that we absolutely need at this time of the season. But we can also use it to our benefit.
“When we come off the non-district games, we will have two weeks to prepare for our district games. We have that Week 3 bye and then play Grove for homecoming and our district opener.”
Like Miami, the Eagles head into the season with a new coach.
Gardner replaces Andrew Rice and Rob Gilbreath was named Sequoyah head coach after Matt Hagebusch was named high school principal and assistant coach at Chelsea.
Gilbreath had been at Tulsa Rogers the past two years, but was head coach at Claremore from 2008-2015.
He coached against Miami when the Wardogs and Zebras — two old Six Lakes Conference rivals — played non-district games between 2010 and 2013.
“Everything is equal,” Gardner said. “They are in the same boat as far as a coaching change as well. They are trying to learn a new system and identify their kids, put them in the best situation to succeed and we are doing the same thing.”
Miami has 14 players back with starting experience, including four each in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
The Dogs return their starting quarterback Gavin Payton, their leading rusher in Caden Folks, best receiver in Damion Burris and tackler — linebacker Matt Horn.
Sequoyah, picked fourth in District 3A-4 by Vype Magazine, went 7-4 a year ago.
In the preseason, they were looking to fill quarterback and running back slots.
“We feel they are a very fast football team,” Gardner said. “They are going to be physical. Their style of offense is kind of a one-back wing situation, where it will be a ‘here we come, stop us’ kind of deal with unbalanced and overload sets.
“They have a big quarterback and they have some speed on the edges. They have some kids that can hurt you in a hurry speedwise. We might be a little undersized up front but we think we are as physical as they are.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.