Guy Ellis

The Grove Ridgerunners prepare to open their 2008 post-season account tonight at home against the Muldrow Bulldogs as the Class 4A playoffs get under way in earnest across the state.

The gridiron troops plan to tackle the Bulldogs in the same manner as they did all of their regular season opponents as the Ridgerunners racked up 10 consecutive wins.

“We’re just going to do what we’ve been doing, it’s been a successful formula so far,” said Head Coach Dennis Millican when asked about the game plan for Muldrow.

“We’re going to run around on defense and try to tackle them and keep the ball in front of us and inside of us,” said the coach. “Offensively we’re going to block and run and catch and protect the ball. It’s what’s got us to this point and we’ll keep on doing what we do.”

One thing that the Ridgerunners have possessed this year in abundance is discipline and poise. It’s evident in the low amount of turnovers the club has produced and was on display as the team fought back from a deficit for a road win at Oologah and fought through a tough, physical match up with Tulsa McLain.

“One thing, a lot of these kids come from good families where things are stable,” said Millican about the character of the team and their ability to remain cool under fire.

“One of our sayings that we tell them is that it’s never as bad as it seems and it’s never as great as it seems,” Millican said. “We’ve really worked on that. You throw the words out there, whether they pick up on it or not is up to them.”

From all accounts the team has indeed picked up on it as their record can attest.

“We just strive to let the team know that when bad things happen, they shouldn’t get too down about it, because we’ll get it back,” said Millican.

Fighting through adversity, displaying poise, and possessing discipline are hallmarks of a championship team.

“We try to run a tight ship,” Millican said. “Obviously you don’t want it so tight that there’s a mutiny. We try to make it fun but kids want discipline, they want expectations, they want boundaries and parameters; they want to know what they can do and what they can’t do. And we provide that base for them and then they take it to a football game and if good things happen or bad things happen, they always have that base to go back to that fundamental belief system.”