TIGERS WIN DIRECTORS' CUP

State championships in boys' track and field (pictured) and boys' cross county helped Commerce finish first in the Class A-Public directors' cup standings. 

When it came to sports in Class A-Public, no one came close to the Tigers.

The Commerce High School athletic program won the 2020-21 Georgia Athletic Directors’ Association’s (GADA) Class A-Public Directors’ Cup by a resounding 404-point margin over second-place Armuchee.

This is the first year the GADA has separated Class A into public and private-school standings. 

Commerce netted state championships in boys’ cross country and boys’ track and field and added three runner-up finishes (state wrestling duals, softball and girls’ golf) during the school year in finishing with 1,239 points.

Commerce’s 404-point margin of victory this year was the largest of any classification. Principal and athletic director Will Smith said the 2020-21 season was “by far the best Commerce has ever been.”

“Overall, just an amazing year for our athletes,” Smith said. “The coaches deserve all the credit. They’re the ones putting the time in with the kids.”

When split between boys’ and girls’ competition, the Tigers’s dominance was nearly equal on both sides. The boys’ athletic program (608 points) ranked No. 1 in Class A-Public by 147 points over second-place Metter, while the girls (631) topped the classification by a 120-point margin over Armuchee.

“For single-A, I think we just blew everybody out of the water,” Smith said. “Just from cross county starting the year all the way to girls’ golf.”

Adding points to Commerce’s overall tally were girls’ cross country (third place), girls’ basketball (Final Four), cheerleading (fourth place), girls’ track and field (fourth place), girls’ tennis (quarterfinals), girls’ soccer (Sweet 16), girls swimming (20th), boys’ golf (sixth place), football (quarterfinals), baseball (quarterfinals), boys’ soccer (Sweet 16), boys’ tennis (Sweet 16) and boys’ basketball (state tournament, first round).

Smith said he was particularly proud of the basketball programs. The girls' team made its first Final Four appearance in 32 years, while the boys reached the state tournament for the first time in nine years. 

“I’m just as happy as I could be for the basketball programs,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Commerce's distance runners had a significant impact on the Tigers' overall tally. 

The boys' and girls' cross country teams accounted for 185 directors' cup points, while the two track and field teams — led by a combined five individual/relay championships and two runner-up finishes from Tiger distance runners — totaled 180 directors' cup points. 

“It’s commitment,” said Smith of the distance runners, who he noted are already practicing for next year. “It’s a great group of kids.”

Commerce's point total for 2020-21 stands as its highest ever. Smith noted that Commerce racked up 1,085 points back in 2018-19 in a second-place finish to Wesleyan, but Tiger athletes far exceed that total with their 1,239-point tally this year.

“I felt like going into this year, I really felt like we could push that number, that 1,000 total,” Smith said. “But I just had a couple of real surprises.”

Smith said those surprises included girls' cross country, girls' basketball, girls' track and field and girls' golf. 

The directors' cup was particularly meaningful for Commerce coming on the heels of a COVID-shorted athletic season in 2019-20. Smith called it "a very special year."

“Everybody here at the school made that happen," he said. "That’s the truth. The community, the nurses to make sure we followed all of the COVID protocols … It’s a group effort from the city of Commerce, that’s for sure.”

This is Commerce’s first directors’ cup win since 2015-16, when the GADA did not divide Class A into public and private-school standings. Commerce also won the directors’ cup in 2014-15.

Smith said the 2020-21 cup will be celebrated at the school.

“We’re going to have a little ceremony here with all my coaches and the community, maybe as school is getting ready to start,” he said. “I’d like to just celebrate the whole thing. It’s a huge accomplishment. I think we take it for granted here that so many of our sports make so many long runs. But this year was just unheard of."

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