Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 10:18am
Football 2013: Tigers try to keep playoff streak alive despite changes
By Jeff Hart Staff
COMMERCE: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Black and Vegas Gold
CURRENT REGION: 8-A
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Michael Brown, first season
2012 RECORD/ ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5-6, lost in first round of playoffs
KEY LOSSES: FB Jamal Browner, OL Micah Eason, OL Clay Pritchett OL, RB Terrick Ramsey, RB Quay Little, DB Barron Mather, DB Chase Ledbetter, DL Dillion Haggard, DL Dylan Seagraves
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Triple Option, Multiple I -- the Tigers will try to grind up opponents on the ground.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 7 starters – Sr. OL Chance McClure, Sr. OL Morgan Flint, Sr. OL Aaron Kyle, Sr. TE Tony Patman, Sr, WR Daniel Streetman, Sr. OL Holden Nunn, Sr. RB Drew Whitfield, Sr. QB Drew Whitfield
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 4-3 -- Commerce fields a read and react defense that occasionally blitzes.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 6 starters – Sr. DL Tony Patman, Sr. DL Aaron Kyle, Jr. DL Brevin Knox, Sr. LB Chance McClure, Sr. LB Morgan Flint, Sr. CB Jamir Walton
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. Nahum Mendoza will handle the place-kicking duties.
STRENGTH: The offensive line with half-a-dozen players who saw significant action last season returning. The defensive front seven should be improved with five of the top players returning from a year ago.
QUESTION: Staying healthy. The Tigers were staggered with injuries. Replacements also must be found at in the offensive backfield.
KEY GAMES: All of their Region 8-A contests. With the new power rankings deciding the playoffs in Class A, the Tigers certainly don’t lack for quality opponents. But to improve their positioning, they will need to find some wins against the top teams in the region. They are just 1-8 against George Walton, Prince Avenue, and Athens Academy over the past three seasons. However, they were the only team to knock off eventual Class AA state champion Jefferson in 2012. It will be another tough schedule with seven road games in 2013.
TRENDING: Coaching stability has been an issue. After having just two coaches in a 33-year span, Brown is the third coach in the past four seasons. The Tigers kept one streak alive advancing to their 16th straight postseason. But they also posted a third consecutive losing record, the first time that had happened since the 1940-42 seasons. It won’t get any easier in Region 8-A, which is loaded with quality private-school programs.
Aug. 30 at Jefferson
Sept. 6 vs. East Jackson
Sept. 13 at Banks County
Sept 20 at Rabun County
Sept. 27 vs. George Walton Academy
Oct. 4 at Athens Christian
Oct. 11 at Prince Avenue Christian
Oct. 18 vs. Athens Academy
Oct. 25 at Hebron Christian Academy
Nov. 8 at Pinecrest Academy
COMMERCE -- After having just two coaches in 33-years, Commerce is once again finding itself with changes at the top as long-time defensive coordinator Michael Brown takes over for Marvin Justice, becoming the third head coach of the Tigers in the last four years.
It’s only on an interim basis for Brown, who is just trying to keep the ship moving forward while he weighs his options.
“I’m from Commerce and I understand the commitment it takes here. I just want to make sure it’s the best fit for me and my family and the program,” he said. “I was very comfortable as the defensive coordinator. We’ll take a look at everything after the season is over.”
What won’t change for the Tigers will be a punishing ground attack behind their triple-option attack. Senior Drew Whitfield, who missed half the season with injuries and illness, returns to guide the offense. The line should be the strength behind three-year senior starters Chance McClure, Morgan Flint, and Aaron Kyle, as well as senior TE Tony Patman. Brown said finding replacements in the backfield will be a key.
“We lost three good guys back there so our focus is finding the right guys to run the ball,” he said.
“We’ve got great kids and they’re working hard,” Brown said.”They have not let the changes around them keep them from working hard. I’m looking forward to an improved season, as long as we can stay healthy.”
Despite the changes, the Tigers managed to continue their streak of playoff runs, advancing to their 16th straight postseason in 2012. Brown said that is always the goal.
"You can't win (the title) if you don't get in so the goal every year is to get into the playoffs," he said. "Hopefully we can keep that going."
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