Following four straight losses, the Commerce Tigers are preparing to head into a homecoming matchup with Hebron Christian Academy, eager for a win.
Commerce (4-4, 0-4) suffered its latest defeat at the hands of region 8-A frontrunner, Athens Academy.
Hebron Christian, (1-6, 0-5) may not be the powerhouse that Athens Academy is, but Tiger head coach Marvin Justice is in no way taking the Lions lightly. Both teams are sure to be hungry for a victory in Friday’s contest.
“Hebron hasn’t won but one game, but we’ve lost four straight,” said Justice. “We’ve both been kind of struggling so it should be a good ballgame. If we take them lightly and don’t do a good job getting prepared this week, we’ll have problems – especially with all the injuries and people we’ve been missing.”
The Tigers can expect some minor relief from the injuries and missing personnel they have suffered over the past few weeks.
Quay Little and Logan Owensby will be back on the field full-time on Friday. Justice also expects Chase Ledbetter to be cleared for play by the end of the week.
Justice notes that avoiding distractions this week is essential to success on the field.
“Not meaning to sound negative, but from a football standpoint, homecoming can be a bit distractive,” he said. “I want the players to have fun, but they have to remember that the most important part of homecoming is the game, Friday night.”
Justice explains that much of practice this week will focus on stopping the Lions’ passing attack, while the offense will prepare for multiple looks from Hebron defenders.
“They are a spread-type team and like to throw the ball – I would say, maybe 70 or 80 percent of the time,” he said. “Up until last week, they’ve ran the same defense we do (4-3), but this past week they ran a 50-defense. We don’t exactly know what to expect, so we will have to work on both in practice.”
The Tigers briefly showed a new look last week on offense, with Jamir Walton lining up at quarterback in a Wildcat set.
Although Justice is somewhat skeptical, don’t be surprised to see the Tigers try to run some form of the nontraditional offense.
“We ran it (the Wildcat) twice (last week), and the second time we had a fumble,” said Justice. “It’s something that ought to be good for us, but whether or not we are going do it, I don’t know. We will work on it some this week. Whatever wildcat we run, it will be a simple modified version of it – not the read option.”
A Tiger victory this Friday could prove to be vital for a possible Commerce playoff berth.
Even with a 4-4 record, Commerce has accumulated a high power ranking due to victories against AAA Banks County and East Jackson, and AA Jefferson and Rabun County. The top 16 ranked class-A public schools will be eligible for the playoffs, and Commerce, sitting at number 12, still controls its own destiny.
Kickoff for the Hebron Christian game is on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8:00 p.m. at Ray Lamb Stadium.
Athens Academy Recap
Things quickly got out of hand for Commerce last Friday night, as Athens Academy the steamrolled the Tigers, 45-7.
Athens Academy jumped out to an early lead, scoring two quick rushing touchdowns in the first quarter.
Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers, as they turned the ball over three times in the first half, allowing the Spartans to capitalize on field position.
Athens Academy rushed for two more touchdowns and kicked a 37-yard field goal, going up 31-0 at the half.
The Spartans added two more rushing touchdowns in the third quarter.
Commerce was finally able to get the ball in the end zone toward the end of the fourth quarter, when Terrick Ramsey had a six-yard scoring rush.
On the ensuing drive, the Spartans took a knee and sent the Tigers packing, 45-7.
“They have a real good football team,” said Justice. “They are well coached, they execute – they are the type of team that rarely makes a mistake.”
Commerce gained 167 yards of total offense while giving up 284. The yardage totals are less indicative of the final score, considering Athens Academy often had a short field to work with due to Tiger turnovers.
“Their kids did what they were supposed to do, we had four turnovers,” said Justice. “Four of their scores – the drives started in out territory, three scoring drives that were less than 30 yards. I just have to do a better job of getting our kids prepared to play.”
Terrick Ramsey led the offense with 13 carries for 81 yards.
Morgan Flint led the defensive effort with six tackles.