The action on the field was ugly and scary and exceptional and enthralling, almost simultaneously in some cases.
On the scoreboard, it was an easy 40-12 victory for Millwood over visiting Prime Prep Academy Friday night at L.W. Good Stadium.
Millwood scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes to take control of the game, and was never challenged by the first-year school founded and coached by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
Neither team could get into an offensive flow, and they combined for 190 penalty yards. Prime Prep turned the ball over five times in a game that was sloppy from start to finish.
Though it was a nondistrict game for the Falcons (3-0), this was big for them, a rare opportunity to play a team from Texas coached by one of football's most recognizable personalities.
“Everything around this game was real big,” Millwood coach Tony Henry said. “Our kids were excited about it. Heck, I was excited about it, seeing a guy like that on the other team. He's probably one of the 10 most famous sports icons in the world. When you have something like that, you just have fun with it and enjoy the time.”
The Falcons' sloppy play centered mostly on their penalties, which included six 15-yarders, and some occasional spotty tackling, though they held Prime Prep to 193 yards (66 in the first half).
Prime Prep has a roster filled predominantly with freshmen and sophomores in a first-year program, and they looked the part. They flashed incredible athletic skills at times, but also struggled to get lined up properly and missed assignments.
Millwood's first touchdown, an 8-yard pass from London Potts to Dashawn Stephens, came when one Prime Prep cornerback was left to cover two receivers.
“It's a teaching and a learning process, not only for the kids, but for the coaches as well,” Sanders said. “It's challenging and it's also promising. We've got some coaches who played in the NFL, so our expectation is something.”
Millwood junior Cameron Batson scored two touchdowns, one on a 30-yard interception return. After the game, he waited patiently to shake hands with Sanders, then received some free advice on how to play cornerback.
“That was real cool. He's a good man,” Batson said. “It's real good to meet a man like that — someone who played the position, who you watch and study film on. And then to be able to go out on the field and do it yourself, it's a good position to be in.”
The novelty of the game fell into the background late in the second quarter when Millwood sophomore Andre Clanton went down with a neck injury. He laid on the field for nearly 20 minutes as medical personnel tended to him. An ambulance drove to midfield and loaded him in on a stretcher, but all of his tests were negative.
From all accounts, Clanton never lost consciousness or feeling in his extremities. Afterward, he was simply angry he didn't get to finish the game, Henry said.
Now that the game is behind them, the Falcons hope to focus better on the season ahead, ultimately unhappy with some significant parts of Friday's performance.
“It wasn't our best week of practice,” said Stephens, who caught two touchdown passes and had an 82-yarder wiped out by penalty. “We need to get more focused in practice than what we are. We've got to practice a lot better to get ready for the rest of the season.”