MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

September 23, 2012

PLAYER OF WEEK/HONOR ROLL WEEK 4: Tahlequah RB determined, confident

— With Grove on the comeback and threatening to spoil Tahlequah’s first win of 2012, first-year coach Brad Gilbert knew who to count on.

Mason McMillan delivered, taking the handoff on every play of the Tigers’ game-icing drive and Tahlequah won 35-20 over Grove in their District 5A-4 opener Friday.

“We knew the last series, he had to take the ball every single step,” Gilbert said. “It’s the confidence we have in him.”

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound oldest son of Muskogee assistant Josh McMillan had 224 yards rushing on 26 carries, scoring two TDs, thus giving him 703 yards rushing in four games.

His last touchdown was the most important as Grove had closed to within a touchdown.

“When we got into that situation last week where things went wrong there were a lot of heads hanging,” McMillan said. “I didn’t want that to happen again. I told the line to give me a hole and I’d do the rest.

“I was glad I could show I could score when it mattered.”

It’s a confidence that he’s developed over time.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve yet to fumble,” he said. “I was fumble-prone last year and I changed the way I held on to the football and also took it to heart that the team relied on me to avoid those mistakes.”

Gilbert sees it.

“A confident running back runs harder and he’s done that,” he said. “He reads our zone scheme well. He runs through tackles and his yards after initial contact is extremely high. You have to form tackle him to bring him down and he’ll also execute a stiff-arm to separate from you.”

McMillan and his younger brother Kourt were adopted by the Muskogee assistant when Mason was 4.

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