Miami aims for 2-0 start in home opener vs. Jay

The Wardogs topped Dewey 30-24 in their opener last week.

MIAMI, Okla. – The Miami Wardogs are coming off their first win since 2019.

“It feels great,” says head coach Zach Gardner, “It just proves to the kids that hard work pays off.”

Miami beat Dewey 30-24 last Friday in their season opener. The win snapped a 19-game losing streak for the Wardogs and gave them their first victory since 2019.

“It was so loud. I’ll tell you that. It was just crazy,” says senior Keaton Jinks on the locker room celebration after the game, “Everybody was hyped, jumping on each other and hugging…maybe a little crying here and there. We’re just not used to it. It’s definitely a different feeling. It feels amazing starting out the season like this.”

This Friday Miami plays its home opener against Jay.

“They’re a very physical football team,” Gardner says of the Bulldogs, “It’s going to be a physical game. We’ll see how our kids respond to the physicality, going from a finesse team like Dewey that throws it more than 30 times per game to a ground and pound team that we’re going to have to respond to.”

With a win, the Wardogs would be off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2005.

“It would just be a huge confidence builder. It’s what these kids need,” Gardner says of potentially starting the season with back-to-back wins, “It’s not going to be athleticism right now that we’re lacking in, it’s just maturity and self confidence, knowing that they’re still capable of doing it. They won at the grade school and middle school levels. That’s a total different ball game. Now we have 14 and 15-year-olds facing 18 and 19-year-olds, and that’s a big maturity division right there. If our kids can find a way to fight and win right now, the future is really bright here in Miami.”

This Miami roster is young – featuring just 6 juniors and 6 seniors.

It’s their sophomore class – with 20 players – that brings the numbers and plenty of talent, hoping to make winning a weekly expectation now and in the future.

“This group right here is pretty special. They’re sophomores now and all they’ve known is us, as far as a coaching staff,” Gardner says of the sophomore group, “We just established stability with those kids, the relationships are great and they’ve definitely bought in.”

“They’re definitely bigger and stronger coming up through the program,” Jinks says of his younger teammates, “We definitely rely on them with the numbers that they have. They’re pretty much the heart of our team.”

“We’re not going to hang our hat on age, we’re going to hang our hat on competing down-in and down-out,” Gardner finishes, “The kids found a way to win, and that’s what we expect right now. We have a challenging upcoming schedule. We’re taking it one week at a time. We feel like this is a team we match up well with and we need to go get another one.”

Miami is entering its fourth season under Gardner.

The team’s game against Jay starts at 7 PM on Friday in Miami.