By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
The Commerce High School football team (7-4) dominated the opposing Whitesboro Bearcats 32-13 en route to a bi-district title and their first playoff victory since 2002. The Tigers will take on the undefeated New Boston Lions at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Mount Pleasant.
“Our players have worked extremely hard,” Coach Scott Wells said. “Their main goals this season were to have a winning record, to make the playoffs and to win a playoff game. They understand that you can’t make a deep playoff run unless you win the first one.”
Junior quarterback Sam Wells completed 16 of 20 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, completing seven of them for 113 yards to senior receiver Buck Wilson. Senior Daryian Hubbard led the Tigers with 45 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Senior Kavrin Massey recorded a team-high 12 total tackles, and senior defensive lineman Cortez Crosby added 11. Junior wide receiver Al Jackson caught five passes for 76 yards.
The Tigers took their first possession of the game 70 yards in 10 plays and got a four yard touchdown run from Hubbard and never looked back. The score with 7:11 left in the first was 6-0, after the failed extra point.
The Tigers scored twice more in the half with a 42 yard pass from Wells to Wilson and an 85 yard kickoff return after a score by Whitesboro star running back Collin Kilcrease. The halftime score was 18-6, Commerce.
Whitesboro threatened to make a closer game of it after recovering a Wells fumble early in the second half and turning it into points to make the score 18-13 Commerce late in the third quarter.
But the Tiger offense answered with an eight-play, 63 yard drive with another Hubbard touchdown. The two-point try was good, and the Tigers had a 26-13 lead.
The Bearcats could not overcome a fierce Tiger defense and Commerce scored again on a 19 yard pass to junior Al Jackson to make the final score 32-13 Commerce.
“We played our most complete game of the year,” Scott Wells said. “We scored late to put it away, and we controlled the ball and the clock. Our offensive line played great, and we played well in all three phases of the game. One of the things we haven’t been able to do in the past is sustain long drives, and we’ve done that the last two weeks.”
Coach Wells pointed out that the Tigers will need to contain the Lions’ senior running back Damien Haskins if they’re going to win Friday night.
“We have to control number 23,” he said. “We’re not going to stop him, but we have to control him. We need to make them drive if they want to score. The more snaps an offense takes, the more chances they have to mess it up. Offensively, we need to control the ball and sustain long drives. Our goal is to keep it close, and win it in the end.”