For the second consecutive season the Waxahachie Indians opened the year in a marque game against one of the top programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
After opening the 2010 season against Denton Guyer in the Old Coach/Avery Air Kickoff Classic, the Indian open this season against Flower Mound Marcus and the son of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders in the Classic.
Waxahachie’s quest to return to the playoffs begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Carrollton’s Standridge Stadium against Marcus, a Class 5A program.
“We have always had a good opener. It kind of expedites what we are trying to get in for the season,” Waxahachie coach David Ream said. “It also shows us what are weaknesses are. If you play somebody that you are going to beat 40-0 in the first game you are not going to learn a whole lot. We might not have won many openers, but we have played people well. Our goal is to get ready for district, just two weeks away. These kind of openers give us an opportunity to see where we are and go from there.”
Marcus (8-3 in 2010) was a playoff team last year and was defeated by Guyer in bi-district before Guyer advanced to state.
The Marauders used Deion Sanders Jr. at quarterback last season to take advantage of his athletic ability but have moved him to receiver this year to break in a new quarterback.
“Last year they were pretty much run oriented. They moved their quarterback (Deion Sanders Jr.) to inside receiver. Now we anticipate they are going to throw the ball a little more since the new sophomore quarterback (Cole Erwin) is the coach’s kid. He will be a savvy kid with some poise but will not be as athletic as the other one but he will throw the ball better,” Ream said.
Sanders will also play corner back, like is father, and wears the No. 2 like his father did at Florida State.
When the elder Sanders was making a name for himself in the NFL, he was often called “Prime Time.”
Waxahachie’s Christian Brewer is ready for the challenge against Sanders Jr. knowing that Sanders Sr. will be watching the game.
“I have to be safe. I don’t want to get to excited and try to jump a route or anything. I will play it safe but if something comes my way I am going to take advantage of it and give him a hit. I am going to show him I am a prime time player. No. 21, that’s me,” Brewer said.
While Sanders will be one of the better known players in Saturday’s game, the Indians have a few guys looking to catch the attention of scouts.
Don King III returns at quarterback for Waxahachie and will not rotate this season while Robert Lowe Jr. looks to improve on his 1,000 yard season from a year ago.
Ream said both teams like to manage the clock with the running game.
“Offensively they are going to be a ball control team, even their passing game will be short. We do not see them going deep down field every other play like some other teams do. They will try to run the clock a lot like we try to do,” he said.
Will Lowe be able to run through the Marcus defense? Will Waxahachie show its option attack early?
It will all be dictated by what is successful in the first quarter.
“Their forcing unit, their inside people, all return from last year. They were really good last year. We are going to have our work cutout for us in the trenches,” Ream said. “I think our skill people will give us an advantage. We threw and caught the ball well in the scrimmage and that is what we are going to have to do again this week. In fact, we might be more throwing than running this week because our match-ups might be better in that part of the game this week. The Sanders kid will be on one side and they say he is a shutdown corner. They will have to show us he is.”
If King and the Indians go to the air they will have two studs to challenge Sanders. Terrance Hawkins and Lil’ Quin Sargent both have LaDarius Brown-like skills that should lead to big plays, no matter who is covering them.
Neither team showed a lot of offensive options in their scrimmage making game planning a little difficult, but the Indians will be ready.
“We feel like we can match up with Marcus. Obviously, Sanders is a good athlete and he could out-athlete us on some plays. We just have to be in a good position so he does not beat us,” Ream said. “We are not really sure what defense they will run. They showed one thing in a scrimmage but the video we have on them from a year ago they showed something else. The have tall, quick kids who remind me a lot of Denton Guyer’s team last year. The have skill people in the trenches but hopefully our advantage in size will limit some of that.”
Last season was tough for Waxahachie (4-6) and the sting of missing the playoffs is a driving factor for this year.
Despite Sanders’ lineage and Marcus being a good Class 5A team, the Indians will not back down.
“We are afraid of nobody. Its cool facing him, but I am going to be the one doing his dad’s dance,” Waxahachie junior corner/receiver Quinn Sargent said.