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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Prep Football: Ardmore preparing for Sanders' Prime Prep

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  • Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said that Prime Prep Academy is going to be fast.
    It's only fitting because arguably the fastest man in NFL history will be on the opposite sideline.
    It's Prime Time in Ardmore and Deion Sanders is coming.
    "Talent. Speed," Ardmore junior defensive back Kevion McGee said about what he saw from Prime Prep on tape. "They said that this might be the best team we play all year."
    Sanders and his upstart Dallas school will make their way to Ardmore on Friday for what the Hall of Fame defensive back hopes will become an annual tradition: Oklahoma vs. Texas at the high school level.
    "This area is unbelievable," Sanders said Monday via phone. "One of my dear experiences was with Barry Switzer. If Barry Switzer calls you and wants you to take his game, you take his game."
    Sanders, who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1995-1999, was encouraged to play Ardmore by Switzer, the former Cowboys and University of Oklahoma coach. Wendel contacted Switzer through a mutual friend after reading about Prime Prep's game against Millwood in 2012.
    Sanders said that he hopes that, in the future, two Oklahoma teams can to come to Dallas each year and visa versa for Prime Prep. The flexibility of schedule comes with Prime Prep playing as a member of the Texas Christian Athletic League.
    The school of close to 300 students from grades 6-12 plays pretty much anyone who will schedule it, according to Sanders.
    "I am so appreciative that he gave us this game," Sanders said of Wendel. "I really truly am. He (Wendel) didn't have to schedule us."
    But Wendel had an open spot on the schedule when Gainesville informed him in the preseason that it wouldn't be able to play Ardmore. The timing of Prime Prep's arrival to Ardmore isn't ideal, as the Tigers are hobbled at quarterback and coming off a 9-7 upset loss to Durant.
    In preparation for Prime Prep, Wendel said there may be some changes on offense. Wendel admitted he may have made a mistake starting an injured Clay Atwood at quarterback, as Ardmore had only 250 yards of offense and was 0-for-10 on third-down conversions.
    "We're gonna put a healthy quarterback on the field," Wendel said of his decision to start Atwood or Jarred Hall. "I'm not sure who it's gonna be."
    Ardmore's problems went beyond the quarterback position, however. The Tigers had at least one sure-fire touchdown and two more long gains called back because of penalties against Durant. The Tigers committed 11 penalties total.
    "We have to try to cut down on the penalties; that's what really hurt us," Ardmore senior safety Carter Swanson said. "Our defense is pretty good. Once our offense catches up, we'll be pretty good."
    Page 2 of 2 - The offense will have to be better against Prime Prep. Sanders may be known as the man who took away half the field as a defensive back, but he's taken over the offensive side for Prime Prep in his foray into coaching.
    Sanders described Prime Prep's coaching setup as a team without a head coach, only position coaches.
    "I do help with the DBs, but I'm pretty much an offensive guy," Sanders said. "We're not into titles. We're not trying to use the high school platform. We're here because of our passion and our purpose."
    Sanders is direct when asked about the purpose of Prime Prep, and it shows in the results. Of Sanders' graduating seniors last year, 15 of the 16 went on to college and the other student went into the armed forces. To those who questioned the motives of Sanders for starting Prime Prep, the multi-millionaire said it's certainly not about the money, as Prime Prep is a free enrollment school.
    "Our goal is to get kids to college," Sanders said. "For a lot of our kids, this is their way out. We need games that produce opportunities for college."
    For Sanders to consider Ardmore among those opportunities is a privilege to Wendel, but the Ardmore coach knows his team can't get starstruck on Friday.
    If they do, it might add up to a loss in primetime to Prime Time.
    "We need to execute what we're doing," Wendel said. "We need to plan to grind it out, we need to slow the game down to keep their speed on offense off the field."
    Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD
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