While the Tigers fell 28-14 to Prince Avenue Christian, Commerce was able to hang tough with the Wolverines for the most part of Friday’s contest.
If not for a couple of special teams miscues and turnovers, the Tigers could have been in position to knock off the Class-A powerhouse Wolverines.
Instead, the Tigers were dealt their first region loss of the season.
Commerce now sits at 4-3 heading into a matchup with the defending Region 8-A champion, Athens Academy.
Athens Academy (4-2, 2-1) shredded the Tigers last in last year’s 45-7 contest with an explosive passing attack. The Spartans will look to do much of the same this year as they work to establish a running game out of the i-formation, then catch the opposing defenses off guard with play-action passes.
The Tigers will look to keep the ball moving on the ground and establish time of possession while limiting turnovers.
“That’s kind of who we are,” said Tiger head coach Mike Brown. “That’s our identity. The problem is, we are still killing ourselves with fumbles. You can take the ball on a 12-play, seven-minute drive and work it all the way down to the ten only to fumble. You’ve just defeated the purpose (of the drive).”
In last weeks’ loss, the Tigers outgained Prince Avenue Christian 356-195 in total yardage, but lost the turnover margin 0-3. That stat line has been a trend throughout the year with Commerce posting a -5 turnover margin against all opponents.
It will be vital for the Tiger offense to finish drives and keep their defense rested if they hope to slowdown the Spartans.
Meanwhile, the Tiger defense has made improvements since the beginning of the seasons. Last week, Commerce only allowed Prince Avenue Christian 14 points on offense, while the Wolverines scored a whopping 45 against Athens Academy.
“We have a lot of guys that are playing really hard,” added Brown. “I think the biggest thing is, we have a lot of guys that are doing what they are coached to do and playing with great effort. We still have one or two that continue to do what they want to do instead of what they are coached to do, but for the most part, I’m really proud of the way they are playing. They are playing aggressive, they’re running to the ball and I’m very pleased with the effort we’ve had the last couple weeks.”
Commerce leads their all-time series with Athens Academy 10-8. The Tigers will hope turn it up to 11 on Friday when they host the Spartans for homecoming at Ray Lamb stadium at 8 p.m.