When the Banks County High School football team rolls into Commerce on Friday night, it will attempt to do something that no Leopard team has ever done before – beat Commerce at home.
After a long off-season, Leopard head coach Biff Parson and his team are eager to take the field. But they will most certainly face a challenge in their first appearance under the lights.
“They are going to be pretty good,” said Banks County head coach Biff Parson. “We have a big challenge ahead of us. We are playing over there on opening night and obviously, we expect a big crowd and a great atmosphere and we want to be able to compete.”
Commerce returned 10 starters on defense from last season and has a rotating cast of young talent at skill positions. Parson said his defense has been preparing for Commerce’s signature triple-option attack, but that is easier said than done.
“It’s hard to simulate what they do in practice with the triple-option,” said Parson. “We don’t have a quarterback to run that and we aren’t going to get a full speed look. We are just trying to learn our assignments and alignments.”
Commerce head coach Michael Brown believes Banks County’s offense is equally difficult to plan for.
“Obviously we are going to spend the week with our kids to try and give them looks that Banks County gives offensively, but you can’t really mimic, with your scout teams, the execution of another team’s offense,” said Brown. “Or in the case of Banks County, they do have some receivers that can really run. We can’t mimic that speed with scout team players. You do the best you can to get our kids ready to process what they are doing offensively. I think we’ve done a good job of that.”
If Banks County were to emerge victorious on Friday night, it would be the first time in 21 years – and the first time ever at Commerce’s home field.
The Tigers have been playing the Leopards off and on since 1970. Commerce came out on top in 26 out of the 28 contests between the two teams and is 14-0 at home.
The Leopards’ only two wins came in 1990 and 1992. Since then, Commerce has owned the series, winning in 11 straight tilts.
Even though the series is largely one-sided, both teams view each other as respected rivals. Parson is all too aware of the history between the two teams, calling “tradition” Commerce’s greatest weapon.
“Commerce always has good players,” said Parson. “The biggest player they got is called ‘tradition.’ They’ve been successful for years. That’s one of the biggest weapons they have, especially against Banks County, because we haven’t had a lot of success going against them. ”
Whether or not Commerce will extend its streak or Banks County will break the cycle is yet to be determined. But players, coaches and fans on both sides expect a battle.
“They are a very, very good football team,” said Brown. “I expect a four-quarter, physical football game. I think the kids on both sides will play hard. It’s a rivalry game. There will be a lot of emotion. Hopefully we will have good attendance from both schools and it will be an exciting atmosphere.”
“We have a lot going against us, but we have nothing to lose,” added Parson. “We want to be able to start fast and finish. We have to overcome the tradition and mental aspect of what Commerce has done over the years.”
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