YUKON — The Yukon Millers are proud of their streak of four consecutive playoff appearances.
But there's one thing that's still eating at them.
“We want to go win in the playoffs now,” said senior defensive end Andre Dowuona-Hammond.
The Millers have been through four straight first-round playoff losses, two of them at home.
With six returning starters on each side of the ball, the Millers have a strong core group motivated to change that. And it starts up front, with an experienced offensive line anchored by Tyler Bowling, who has committed to Tulsas.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound left tackle has become a force protecting the blind side for quarterback Hayden Soomerville. Senior center Logan Parks returns on the offensive line as well, after missing last season with a torn ACL. He tore it again in the offseason, and might miss the first few games.
“He tore it in Week 1 against Mustang,” coach Todd Wilson said. “Then he had recovered and gotten his release, and he tore it again, just working out.
“But he's out there dressed out every day. He snaps the ball for all of our 7-on-7 where there's no contact or movement. He has really stayed involved, and when he comes back, that makes our line just that much better.”
Somerville, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, was one of Class 6A's top passers last season, accounting for more than 2,500 yards through the air. He has Parker Bohannan, Tucker Doyle, Caelan Groce and a couple other receivers to utilize in the Millers' spread offense.
“We graduated a lot of experience at receivers,” Wilson said. “He's bringing those inexperienced guys along. And it helps him with all of the guys we're bringing back on the offensive line.”
Yukon will be looking for a new running back after A.J. West graduated. Hunter Sconce, Josh Bedell and Bradyn Meyer will be among the candidates there.
Meyer has been the Millers' leading tackler the last two years and should be back to the same business at linebacker once again. And Dowuona-Hammond, who has scholarship offers from Air Force, Harvard and Yale, is one of 6A's best edge pass rushers.
“We like what we're seeing from the kids in the preseason,” Wilson said. “They're giving good effort and picking things up pretty fast. We like the way they're flying around.”