The Grove Ridgerunners have met the Miami Wardogs 30 times on the football field during the two schools’ history.
But that doesn’t mean the Wardogs will be familiar.
With new head coach Rick Woods taking over at Miami, the Ridgerunners know the 2010 Wardogs won’t be the same squad that won three games in 2009.
The Wardogs only won two of those games on the field, defeating a Skiatook team that finished 1-9 and a Tulsa Rogers team that was winless last season. They also received a forfeit from Tulsa Washington due to that school's eligibility issues.
But Woods, who has been an assistant coach at several stops including Grove and has been at Miami as either an assistant coach or athletic director since 1999, appears ready to change things. Woods is the fifth head coach at Miami since 2000. In the 30 previous seasons, Miami only had two head football coaches; L.D. Bains (1970-81) and Bob Homer (1982-2000).
All the turnover has enabled the Ridgerunners to win four straight in the series after the Wardogs won 23 of the previous 26 meetings between the two schools with one tie. The Ridgerunners won last year’s contest 39-7 on their way to a 4-1 start.
Along with the turnover at the top, the Wardogs will put a revamped team on the field with several players moving to different positions.
Last season’s starting quarterback, Casey Carson, will now start at defensive back while also seeing time at tight end.
Junior Jacob Cheatham has been moved under center after playing at running back and wide receiver last season.
In addition to Carson, the Wardogs will return eight starters from last year’s defense. In 2009 Miami surrendered 295 points, the second most in school history. Senior Trey Flick will be joining Carson in an experienced secondary.
It’s on offense that the Wardogs have a conspicuous lack of experience. In addition to Cheatham’s new turn at quarterback, Miami now will have three new tailbacks. Colin Robinson, Cade Johnson and Jordan Hessee will alternate carrying the ball for MHS.
Up front the Wardogs will have just two starters returning in senior left tackle Casey Thyer and junior right guard Trenton Kellogg.
For GHS the Ridgerunners will be looking to put behind them last week’s scrimmages against Bishop Kelley and Metro Christian.
Grove lost two simulated games by scores of 14-0 and 7-0, failing to garner a first down in either of the 25-minute contests.
The Ridgerunners will also be going into tonight’s opener with experience on the defensive side of the ball. GHS returns nine starters from last year’s squad that surrendered 17 points per game in 2009.
Leading the charge will be inside linebackers Bobby Harris and Trent Phillips. Phillips is expected to play after sitting much of the second half of last week’s scrimmages.
Harris could see more time at running back as he did last week after starter Buck Maples went down with a knee injury. Maples status is unknown as of press time.
Senior Jarrod Leach, who ran for over 200 yards last season, should also see time in the offensive backfield.