After suffering a tough 19-14 defeat at the hands of Athens Christian, the Commerce Tigers are bruised but far from broken.
The Tigers now turn their focus to another region 8-A opponent, Prince Avenue Christian.
To make matters worse for the Tigers, starting quarterback Drew Whitfield is out sick indefinitely. Whitfield, who led the Tiger offense for the first four games of the year, recently contracted mononucleosis and was forced to miss last Friday’s game.
Head coach Marvin Justice made it clear that the Tigers will make some adjustments to prepare for the Wolverines.
“Every quarterback is different,” he said. “There are some things that Drew could do that our other quarterbacks don’t do that well yet. We are a single-A school. Once you figure out who your quarterback is, they get probably around 100 percent of the reps in practice.”
Taking over Whitfield’s command is junior Daniel Streetman, who was 4-of-8 passing, with 72 yards against Athens Christian.
“Under the circumstance, I thought (Daniel) did a really good job,” said Justice. “He’s our starting receiver, but he gotten reps at quarterback. It’s not like he was thrown in the fire with no experience.”
Justice expects Streetman to play well at the quarterback position, but does note that there will be some changes to the Commerce offensive scheme.
“The biggest thing is that we’ve had to simplify our game plan,” he noted. “We are kind of limited as to what we can do on offense, because we are trying to get him (Streetman) acclimated. Hopefully as time goes on, we can do more.”
Prince Avenue Christian (5-1) is coming off its first loss of the season to Athens Academy, but still ranks as one of the top 10 Class A teams in the state.
Historically, Commerce has matched up well against the Wolverines, winning five of the six contests between the two.
Justice feels confident in preparing his team for the matchup due to the similarities of the Tiger and Wolverine offenses.
“On offense, when you watch the game, you will almost think we are the same team,” he said. “We do a lot of the same things on offense. That is going to be good for us in practice, because we both run wing-t offenses, and those are hard to simulate with a scout team. Since that is what we run, hopefully we can give our defense a good look at what they are going see Friday night.”
He also points out that the Wolverines run a 50-defense – the same as Athens Christian and George Walton academy. He is hoping that the “familiarity” of the Prince Avenue defense will prove advantageous to the Tigers.
Justice’s main concern is keeping his Tiger squad physically and mentally healthy.
“After we finish the non-region schedule, we normally have a bye week,” said Justice. “That’s been huge, because you need the rest at that midpoint in the season. We’ve had six straight games that have all went down to the wire. We’re banged up and our kids are a bit mentally fatigued. Somehow or another, it’s my responsibility to find a way to get us ready to play and I’m going to do the best that I can to do that. We have a great group of kids and I believe that they are going respond well this week.”
The Tigers will travel to Prince Avenue Christian Friday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Athens Christian Recap
Commerce was unable to contain Athens Christian in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles went up by five with time ticking away.
The Tigers got off to a roaring start when Streetman completed a 52-yard pass to Terrick Ramsey on the opening drive of the game and Commerce went up 7-0 when Quay Little rushed for a touchdown from five yards out.
Athens Christian drove down to the red zone on the ensuing possession, but was forced to settle for a field goal by the Tiger defense.
After a Commerce punt and an Eagle fumble, Little broke loose on a 65-yard touchdown run putting the Tigers up 14-3 in the second quarter.
The Eagles kicked another field goal before halftime, leaving the score at 14-6.
Athens Christian had the ball to start the second half, but punted it away after going three-and-out.
On fourth and long, Streetman completed a pass to full back Jamal Browner, but he was stopped just shy of the first down.
The Eagles responded by breaking a huge run, and bruised it into the end zone. After failing to complete a 2-point conversion, the Eagles had cut the Tiger lead to 14-12.
After driving into Eagle territory, Commerce once again turned the ball over on downs, missing the first down marker by a matter of inches.
After recovering an Athens Christian fumble, the Tigers drove down the field, and found themselves trying to convert another fourth down. After a personal foul, Commerce was backed up 10 yards and fell well short of first down.
The Athens Christian quarterback caught fire on the following drive, completing a string of passes, eventually getting one in the end zone to put the Eagles up 19-14 with time winding down.
Commerce tried to rally one more time, but fell short when Streetman was intercepted, sealing an Athens Christian Victory.
The Tigers ended up with 338 total yards of offense, giving up 406.
Little rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Chance McClure led the Tiger defense with 15 tackles.