JEFFERSON COACH T. McFerrin doesn’t need reminding, but Commerce quarterback Cody Streetman put on a one-man show last year, running for 185 yards on 32 carries and scoring two touchdowns in last year’s nail-biter.
“I remember it well,” the veteran coach said.
After hanging on to beat the Streetman-led Tigers 17-14 last year, Jefferson hosts long-time rival Commerce Friday night in the 66th meeting between the schools. Beating the Tigers for a fifth-straight year will mean finding a way to limit Streetman, a senior, who is one of the best quarterbacks in the area — especially in the running department. Streetman romped for 1,254 yards and 18 touchdowns last year for the 5-6 Tigers in their option-oriented attack. He also completed 61 percent of his passes (39-of-64) for 479 yards when called upon to throw.
“It all starts with the quarterback, Cody Streetman,” McFerrin said. “He can run it and he can throw it. We were very impressed with him in the scrimmage … And they have guys with good hands who can catch the football.”
Marvin Justice, in his first season as Commerce’s head coach, has high praise for the veteran quarterback who will guide his first Tiger team.
“I wouldn’t have anyone else,” Justice said. “He’s the complete package. He runs the ball well. He throws it well. He’s a good leader. He’s tough-nosed … You never hear a complaint out of him.”
Streetman is only part of the storyline for Friday’s game, which will feature two of the best quarterbacks — albeit of contrasting styles — in the area.
Jefferson’s standout signal caller, Bryant Shirreffs, takes the controls of what’s expected to be a much more pass-oriented Dragon attack.
The hope is that Shirreffs can post even bigger aerial numbers than he did as a sophomore in 2010. Shirreffs was just beginning his career in last year’s game, completing 10-of-13 passes for 95 yards against Commerce in his first varsity start. He threw more as the season progressed, however, and ended up accumulating nearly 1,400 yards passing and 14 touchdowns despite operating in a run-oriented offense.
But now, with the 6-2, 200-pounder being a year older and having several solid receivers at his disposal, Jefferson looks to move the through the air.
Commerce coach Marvin Justice and his staff scouted Jefferson’s Aug. 13 scrimmage with Lumpkin County and came away very impressed with what they saw of Shirreffs.
While Shirreffs passing ability is well-noted, don’t sell Shirreffs’ running ability short, Justice said.
“He looked really good running the ball in the scrimmage game,” Justice said. “That really concerned me. And he throws the ball really well and his mechanics are really sound.”
And Shirreffs’ poise when the pocket breaks down was certainly noticed by Justice.
“He finds a seam in the rush lane and goes,” he said. “He’s a good all-round quarterback.”
While Commerce will look to contain Shirreffs Friday, Jefferson’s defense knows what it has to do to avoid Streetman having a repeat performance from last year.
“We’ve got to play disciplined,” said Carson Newman, a senior defensive end for Jefferson who had 13 tackles in last year’s game. “We’ve got to contain him, and when you can’t contain him, you’ve got to hit him downfield and make sure he doesn’t want to run again.”
Newman said that Commerce, overall, has an offense that will present challenges, pointing to Commerce’s line and skill players.
“They have a good line,” he said. “They’ll play disciplined. We hadn’t heard a lot out of the backs but you’ve always got to keep your enemy in mind and definitely watch out for the quarterback there.”
NOTES: Commerce coach Marvin Justice tailback Jamal Browner has been sidelined with a knee injury and could be out for the season. But the coach points to Commerce’s two other tailbacks — Quay Little and Terrick Ramsey.
“It’s not like we lost a guy and don’t have anybody else,” Justice said.