The Commerce Tigers look to avenge a shutout loss from last season as they head to Community High School this Friday following their 35-22 victory over Leonard last week.
This was the third time in the past four seasons these teams had face each other, as last year’s matchup between Commerce and Leonard was cancelled due to lightning.
Leonard was led by sophomore quarterback DJ Brown, who carried the load for his team Friday. Brown ran the ball 27 times for 209 yards and a score, while completing 12 of 27 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Riley Ferron ran for just 13 yards on 12 rushes, but had a touchdown on the ground. Cody Houser was the leading pass catcher on the team, grabbing six passes for 43 yards, while freshman Cameorn Armstrong scored his first-career touchdown with a scoring grab in the third quarter.
Commerce used a strong ground game to get the win, with the team as a whole averaging 13.9 yards per carry on the night. With top back Xzay Basham out, Dayton Dunbar picked up the slack and had a field day, running for 155 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. After Dunbar went down in the third quarter, freshman Kendrick Greer shined in his first game as a Tiger, running for 113 yards and a score on nine rushes. J’Den Wilson drastically improved his performance through the air after week one, completing eight of 15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 10 yards on his only carry of the game. Brad Caldwell and Conner Smith were the only pass-catchers for Commerce, with Caldwell catching five for 80 yards and Smith grabbing three for 79 yards. Both caught a touchdown pass.
A negative spot for Commerce was the penalties, with the Tigers being penalized 13 times for 120 yards.
After the game, Commerce Head Coach Cody Farrell wanted to give credit to a few individual efforts that he said were make-or-break for the team.
“I want to make sure I mention the play of Wade Nicholson on defense, he gives us such a presence out there, and he flies around like he was shot out of a cannon,” Farrell said. “And some of the unsung work by receivers like Brandon Turner and Conner Smith, their blocking on the outside really opened up the running game for us tonight.”
Farrell added that he is pleased with the depth shown by the team Friday, saying that it is a huge difference from last season.
The win improved Commerce to 1-1 on the season while Leonard fell to 1-1.
On Monday, Farrell said that he has been pleased the performance of the offensive line, which has been key to the sucess of the Tigers’ potent running game early in the season.
“Our O-Line was extremely physical out there Friday,” Farrell said. “We’ve improved on blocking a whole lot from week one to week two.”
Farrell said that the development of quarterback J’Den Wilson has been coming along well, and that the timings are getting on track.
“With the new offense, we still have to get comfortable with our routes and timings,” Farrell said. “It’s all about having confidence.”
The coach touched on the Tigers’ next opponent, the Community Braves.
“Community has a well-rounded team,” Farrell said. “They have a balanced attack on offense, but there are going to be some matchups we like.”
The hardest thing about playing a team at the 4A level like Community is the depth, Farrell says.
“That’s the biggest thing is them having more guys,” Farrell said. “While we have guys that never come off the field, they have guys on offense that can come off and talk to their coaches to prepare for the next series. That’s the biggest challenge.”
The Braves come into this contest with a 1-1 record, following last week’s 56-21 victory over Tiger district foe Bonham. In last season’s matchup between the two teams, the game was delayed more than an hour due to lightning, and once play resumed, Commerce was immediately put on the ropes, suffering a 34-0 defeat.
The Commerce Tigers will face the Community Braves at Braves Field, located at 620 FM 1138 in Nevada. The game is scheduled for Sept. 13, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.