Tiger quarterback J'Den Wilson (#5) makes a pass against Edgewood earlier this season.

The Commerce High School Tiger football team fell 48-17 against the Community Braves last week, and they end non-district play this week with their first home game of the season. 

Last Friday’s contest pitted 3A Commerce vs 4A Community. The Braves were celebrating their homecoming night and it was standing room only at Braves Field in Nevada.

After being tied 14-14 after the first quarter, the Braves opened the game up and dominated from that point on.

Community outgained the Tigers in total offensive yards 478 to 266 on the night.

The Braves were led offensively by junior running back Tyson Neighbors, who seemed to take a gaggle of Tiger defenders to bring him down on every play. Neighbors finished with 225 yards and four touchdowns on the ground on 19 carries, however he did lose one fumble as the only turnover of the game. Quarterback Parker Simpson completed eight of 15 passes for 99 yards and two scores, while running for 66 yards on nine rushes. Simpson’s favorite target was Ty Simpkins, who caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Winans added 57 yards and a rushing touchdown on nine carries.

Commerce quarterback J’Den Wilson improved his efficiency for the second week in a row, completing nine of 13 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. He had a tough night on the ground, picking up just 17 yards on 7 attempts. Xzay Basham was the primary weapon on offense for the Tigers, gaining 87 yards and scoring once on 13 rushes. Six different receivers caught a pass for the Tigers, with Brad Caldwell leading the team with three catches for 35 yards. Cason Oates caught one pass for a 21-yard score.

Commerce Head Coach Cody Farrell was candid following the game.

“We just ran into a good football team,” Farrell said. “I told the guys after the game that this doesn’t mean we are not a good team, we just played a group with great size and depth and they outplayed us tonight.”

Farrell said that he still thinks good things are on the horizon with the development of his young team.

“We still haven’t unleashed J’Den yet,” Farrell said, referring to his junior quarterback. “We still have some learning to do and we will be a team to reckon with when district comes around.”

The coach added that playing a larger school like Community helps prepare the team for district games against Bonham and Emory, two schools that recently dropped down from 4A but still have a larger pool of players to work with.

Speaking with the Commerce Journal on Monday, Farrell said that his guys are working on getting their best effort on the field all of the time.

“We don’t have all 11 playing great ball on every play yet,” Farrell said. “We may have six or seven guys on top of things, and then three the next play. It changes. But we are working on it.”

Farrell also said that there were too many “busts” on offense, with too many plays breaking down.

“Also getting a touchdown called back on a penalty knocked us out of our rhythm,” Farrell added. “We have to stay focused and play our game.” 

The loss dropped Commerce down to 1-2 while Community improved to 2-1.

Next on the schedule is the Tigers’ first trip home after three long weeks of road games, as they face Kemp on Homecoming night.

The Kemp Yellowjackets have had a very rough go of things in the young season so far. After reaching the state semifinals in 2017 and the second round of the playoffs last season, Kemp has looked markedly different this year.

The Yellowjackets enter their contest with Commerce with an 0-3 record. Even more shocking is the fact that Kemp has failed to score a single point on the season, being shut out in all three games.

Granted. Kemp has faced Sunnyvale, Mabank and Life Waxahachie, all 4A-level teams. But it is still a different look than the Tigers are used to.

Commerce lost to Kemp  23-17 during their magical playoff run in 2017, and fell 35-27 in non-district play last season.

Farrell said that the focus of his team is inward this week/

“This is all about us, not the Yellowjackets,” Farrell said. “We have to focus on what we can do and not worry about them. They beat us the last two times,  but it’s all about this week now.”

Farrell added that if handled correctly, the Homecoming atmosphere can provide a boost to a team.

“If you handle it right, it can definitly give you that boost of energy,” Farrell said. “But with all of the events this week and what not, it’s important to not get distracted.”

The Commerce Tigers will face the Kemp Yellowjackets on Sept. 20 at Memorial Stadium in Commerce. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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