Ardmore wasn’t the only super team on Friday.
The Ardmore Super Scrimmage brought the best out of a pair of District 3A-4 foes, as Lone Grove and Sulphur had their moments against the Tigers at Noble Stadium.
Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said that despite a few turnovers on offense, he was pleased with the improved physicality from last week against Noble to Friday night, in which the Tigers were able to break off long runs more consistently on offense and spent more time in the Lone Grove and Sulphur backfields.
“I think we started faster than we did last week,” Ardmore junior nose guard Darius Lawson said. “Our linebackers are helping us. When we clog up the middle, they fill the gaps up.”
At fullback, Lawson shed several tackles to break off a 22-yard touchdown run against Lone Grove. Against an aggressive Sulphur front seven that was stout against the run, the Tigers exploited the perimeter with receiving touchdowns from Jamarcus Mills and Devin Reynolds.
Mills scored on a 35-yard pass from Jeff Surrell, and on the No. 1 offense’s final offensive play, Surrell connected with Reynolds for the second week in a row on a 10-yard fade route score.
Despite highlight plays scattered into the controlled scrimmage, more than one player was heard describing the Ardmore spread option as a “grind” offense.
A few yards here mixed in with a big play is all a part of the master plan.
“We were more crisp,” Lawson said of the offense. “We’re starting to get it down. It’s a grind offense — we’ve got to get three yards this play, maybe one yard this play. You’ve got to grind it out, then out of no where, you might just bust one, so you’ve got to keep pushing it.”
Wendel said he was pleased with the first-team offense and defense, and wasn’t concerned with the Tigers’ three interceptions thrown. Wendel said Ardmore was trying some things out on offense that it normally wouldn’t do in the passing game.
That didn’t mean Lone Grove wasn’t there to capitalize. Free safeties O’Shay Harris and Akari Tucker each came up with picks, as did defensive back Joseph Nichols.
Harris, a sophomore quarterback, and Tucker, a senior receiver, were standouts for the Lone Grove offense, teamming up for a 40-yard touchdown strike.
“We’ve been working in practice every day. Everybody did their job,” Tucker said. “The offense is lovely. The quarterback is throwing good passes, the line’s blocking good, the wide receivers are catching everything. We’re playing a 5A team, so that’s good.”
Lone Grove coach Kenny Ridley was happy with the performance of his No. 1’s against Ardmore’s first team.
Page 2 of 2 - “Typically, as always, the defense is ahead of the offense at this point in the season,” Ridley said. “We’ve got some athletic kids in the secondary and we were really pleased.
“We made some changes defensively that are designed to create more turnovers. So far in our two scrimmages, we’ve got three or four interceptions, so it’s been pretty pleasing to see that.”
Against Ardmore, Sulphur came out amped on defense, holding the Tigers’ running game to little initially.
Among about four or five players that were held out, Sulphur played without starters Haydn Rogers and Tanner Watson in the secondary.
“We’re better,” Sulphur coach Jim Dixon said. “We’ve improved. We’ve got a lot of guys back from last year, and they’re a year older, a year more mature, a year quicker. We’re optimistic.”
Wendel said Sulphur’s intensity in the second session that concluded the Super Scrimmage needed to be matched by his players. He was, however, happy that the Tigers were efficient in the passing game, with two touchdowns in 10 plays.
He was also excited that the players understood the methodical nature of the offense — the aformentioned “grind.”*
“I feel like in this offense you’re gonnapop some big ones, but I also know that you’re gonna have about 30 plays a game that are three yards, two yards,” he said. “If we can do that (pass effectively) and back people off of us, we’re gonna be good enough and effective enough up front to run the ball.
“The improvements from last Friday to tonight ... I feel real good about what we got accomplished last week.”
Erik K. Horne