As Commerce football coach Michael Brown puts it, the Tigers have “trimmed all the fat” from their offensive game plan at this point.
“We’re down to what we think we can do, and we just want to get better at the execution of it,” he said.
Things have been working well, especially as of late for the No. 4-ranked Tigers (5-1, 1-0 Region 8-A Public), who are averaging 35.2 points per game.
Commerce has rushed for an average of 310 yards per game and have also hit 38 explosive plays already this season. Explosive plays are designated on the stat sheet as runs that cover 15 or more yards and passes of 20 or more yards. In fact, the Tigers have produced six touchdowns of over 50 yards this season.
“Obviously, I think we’ve gotten cleaner in our execution, especially over the last two or three weeks,” Brown said. “It seems like we have the potential to break longer runs than we’ve had in the past. I know we’ve got some guys that have got that capability.”
Commerce has multiple players that can — had have — put up big numbers on any given night. Trey Huff, Sammy Brown, Dreylan Martin and Tyleon Brock have all rushed for more than 200 yards on the season in the Tigers’ triple-option offense.
“Again, we’ve got a couple of kids that can run well,” Brown said. “Whereas in year’s past those 15 and 20 yard gains this year seem to be 30, 40 and maybe even touchdowns. So, we’ve got some kids that seem like they have that capability.”
Then there’s a player like Michael Sherman, whose name doesn’t appear as prominently as the others on the stat report, but helps make the offensive system go. Brown said Sherman is the most consistent blocker of the halfbacks.
With Sherman in the mix, the coach said he sees his team as having three starters at that halfback, though only two are on the field at at time.
“Those guys are all starters,” he said. “We rotate those guys in, really by series. But Michael is a guy that he’s very unselfish. He does what he’s asked to do. He does a great job blocking. He does a great job running as well. He’s a guy that really stands out to me, week in and week out.”
While the running game continues to eat up yardage, Commerce has dialed up its passing game effectively in certain moments to try to keep defenses off stride. The Tiger passing attack, with Huff at quarterback, is responsible for seven explosion plays this season.
“It’s always been a part of our package,” Brown said. “We want to use the play-action pass to constrain on option responsibilities. But I think the confidence is there a little more than it has in the past to let it loose and throw it.”
Meanwhile, the offensive line continues to meld into a cohesive unit through six games.
“They’re just blue collar,” Brown said. “They come to work on Monday, and they’re a group that I can just see the improvement on a weekly basis. They’re just high-character kids that work hard, and they’re doing a good job in the weight room. It’s a group that’s going to continue to get better. I have confidence in that.”
TIGERS FACING IMPROVED TOWNS COUNTY
Commerce’s next opponent, Towns County, is already well ahead of last year’s pace, having won two games this season following an 0-10 mark in 2019.
The Indians (2-4, 0-1 Region 8-A Public) scored just 88 points all of last year, but have already put up 110 points this season.
Brown said Towns County has improved its strength and speed. But the Indians have also been bolstered by the addition of about half a dozen players from nearby Haysville (N.C.) High School.
Some players from that state have opted to transfer to Georgia schools since North Carolina has postponed its football season until February.
That group of North Carolina expats includes Jake McTaggart, a 6-7 tight end who holds an offer from Kentucky.
“They’ve got some kids that can play,” Brown said. “So, they’re a much improved football team.”
The Indians, who had to forfeit a region game with Lincoln County last week, like to throw the ball out to the perimeter in their passing game, according to Brown.
“And that’s given us problems at times this year,” he said.