Four area football coaches watched as their teams took a final step toward the regular season as Ardmore, Lone Grove, Sulphur and Wilson participated in the annual "Super Scrimmage" at Noble Stadium Thursday night.
The Ardmore Tigers, led by sophomore quarterback Clay Atwood, showed great speed and quickness. Atwood gave Tiger fans hope for the next three years with his ability to find an open running lane, and especially to find the open receiver for the deep pass.
Atwood hit sophomore Buddy Johnson for three touchdown passes against the Lone Grove and Sulphur defenders.
"Clay makes good decisions, and he has a great arm," Ardmore coach Doug Wendel said. "We looked a lot better tonight than we did six days ago up at Noble. We need to cut down on our penalties. We had three false starts tonight and one or two others. We have to fix that for sure.
"I was impressed with our team speed tonight against some pretty solid competition. Defensively, we had a little trouble against the Lone Grove hurry-up offense. That is something that is hard to prepare for. But we didn't allow a score against Lone Grove, and that was important. We have a ways to go, but we are definitely not where we were this time last week."
Speaking of the Longhorn hurry-up, most people would define the Jeremy Turner version as a super hurry-up. And Lone Grove ran it well against the Tigers defenders.
"There were several times I thought we caught the defense out of position," Turner said. "And that is what we are hoping to do with our offense. We are still not running it as fast as we would like, but we are getting there. It's a new concept, and it takes time to perfect."
Turner was pleased with the work of his quarterback, sophomore Grant Harmon, and his running back, sophomore Jeremy Lewis.
"Grant threw the ball accurately, and I was particularly proud of that," Turner said. "The decision-making will need to improve as we go along. We have put a lot of responsibility on each of the players to make this scheme work well. And they are doing a good job of owning our offense. Jeremy continues to run the ball with authority. Tonight he did it against a very quick and solid Ardmore defense."
Wilson coach Warren Butler is very pleased with the number of players out for football. Additionally he pointed out the solid participation of those players in the offseason.
"We have 32 players right now, and at one time we had 44," Butler said. "Hopefully we can get some of the 10 or 12 back that are out right now. These players had a great summer program. They came out and lifted weights, and I believe all their hard work will begin to show up next week."
The Wilson offense is led by sophomore quarterback Lane McClennahan. Butler thought McClennahan and the offense in general played well in their scrimmage time against the Lone Grove and Ardmore junior varsity teams.
"We are a young team, but Lane is showing great poise and leadership," Butler said. "I thought we looked a lot better tonight than we did last week against Comanche."
Sulphur scrimmaged the Ardmore varsity, with senior Ryan Rackley at quarterback and juniors Nate Johnson and Trevor Venegas at running back. The Bulldogs ran the ball well, and Rackley showed good arm strength in his throws downfield.
"We improved a lot by participating in the scrimmage today against Ardmore," Sulphur coach Jim Dixon said. "They have so much team speed, and they are very talented. That's what we need, because we will be facing quite a bit of speed this season in and out of our district schedule."
The Sulphur defenders let the Tigers get deep on them for a couple of scores. But Dixon believed that was what was to be expected against the Ardmore speed.
"We gave up a couple of big plays on defense, and we will need to work on that," Dixon said. "Offensively I was pleased that we were able to move the ball down the field on them. We got good work from the offensive line."