The unknown has become the new norm for high school football coaches these days.
That’s been the experience of Commerce’s Michael Brown. Typically, he would know more about his own team by now with Commerce having scrimmaged another team. And he’d know more about his week-one opponent, having watched its scrimmage game.
But precautions for COVID-19 took scrimmages games off the preseason schedule, leaving coaches with plenty of questions heading into opening night.
Brown’s Commerce Tigers play Banks County Friday (Sept. 4) on the road at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re just kind of heading into this thing blind like everybody else is,” Brown said.
But Brown said he looks forward a great opening-night game with the Leopards, one of Commerce’s most frequent opponents through out its history. The campuses are separated by less than 10 miles.
“We anticipate that it’s going to be a great game,” Brown said. “It always is. Their kids are always physical and tough. I think more than anything though, it will be good to get the kids out and actually get a sense of normalcy and be able to play a game on Friday night. That was in question a month ago.”
And some of those preseason questions could be answered after Friday night is over.
“My expectation for this is hey, ‘Let’s go out there and see where we are,’” Brown said.
Against Banks County, Commerce will face a Leopard team coming off a 3-7 season in 2019. Banks County has operated out of the Wing-T under coach Jay Reid, but Brown believes the Leopards might open things up a little bit this season, though likely still base in the Wing-T for the running game.
But he is quick to point out he isn’t sure what changes have been made.
“They could say the same about us,” Brown said. “We’re always a little bit different each year. You’re kind of heading into this thing blind, but everybody is.”
With Friday’s opener approaching, Brown said he noticed a difference in his team throughout the preseason.
“I just sense with our kids that there’s a renewed sense of how blessed they are to be able to play this game together with their teammates and their brothers,” Brown said. “There’s just been a sense of gratitude really in our team really going all the way back to June when we started back.”
And while the preseason was long — the football start date was pushed back two weeks — it was time well-spent, according to Brown. He said his team “probably needed the extra time.”
“We’ve got some young players at some key positions, and we needed the extra time to improve that they’re doing,” Brown said. “All in all, even though it was a long preseason, I feel like it was good.”