YUKON — There's no hiding the holes Yukon has to fill this season.
The Millers graduated a three-year starter at quarterback and four offensive linemen, along with some valuable members of the receiving and secondary corps.
But coach Todd Wilson isn't letting any worry show through. He knows the program has been building in the right direction, with three consecutive playoff appearances after falling short of the postseason the 12 years before.
“We have most of our skill guys back,” Wilson said. “Our offensive line will need to come around, and we need our quarterbacks to progress. We need one of them to win that job and show he's better than the other. Those things will determine how fast we can progress.”
Junior Hayden Somerville and senior Zach Holliday have been splitting the work through much of camp in preparation for Canadian County Bedlam against visiting Mustang on Aug. 31 — the first Yukon-Mustang game at the new Millers Stadium.
Wilson has left his post as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator to run the defense in place of the departed Steve Chard, now Enid's head coach.
The move has led to a new feel on the offensive side of the ball without Wilson running the show.
“It's less stressful,” joked Somerville, who was Corben Jones' backup last season.
Receivers like Codey Sanchez, Tyler Treadway, Parker Bohannan and Brandon Andraszek return to help the new quarterback. Chance Leggett and A.J. West will anchor the backfield at running back.
Leggett is an experienced back, and West has been a pleasant surprise after joining the team following last season. He has been a Yukon student, but didn't play football the last few years.
Wilson sees the secondary as a potential strength of the defense, though there isn't a ton of experience. Brooks McEntire missed most of the season with a knee injury, but he's fully healthy. Bohannan will enter at cornerback, and Andraszak works in at linebacker as Wilson switches from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 defense.
“Moving to the 4-3 will allow us to get guys in positions to help us,” Wilson said.
Blake Biggs and Bradyn Meyer anchor the linebacker unit, backing up a defensive line that is mostly new starters. Andre Dowuona Hammond led the team in sacks as a sophomore and now weighs 226 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame.
“I feel like we're a lot more confident and we fly around a lot faster this year,” Biggs said. “The schemes are simpler. We can just fly around and play football.
“People outside of the team might be happy getting to the playoffs, but inside the locker room, that's not our goal. A first-round loss is disappointing. We want to make some noise in the playoffs, maybe get past that first round, second round — maybe play for a gold ball.”