NATE RAY

Nate Ray makes his way down the field vs. George Walton Academy (Nov. 8). Commerce hosts Trion this Friday, Nov. 15, to open the Class A Public playoffs. 

After putting together the biggest comeback in program history to end the regular season, the Commerce Tigers' focus now comes back to the next task at hand: the Class A Public state playoffs. 

The Tigers' road to get its third-ever state title in program history begins this Friday (Nov. 15). The Tigers (8-2) will host Trion (5-5). 

"They play in a very, very tough region," head coach Michael Brown said. "They've had some losses here recently, but the losses came against top-notch opponents." 

Three of the team's last four losses have come against top-five teams in both Class A Public and Class A Private (Christian Heritage, Darlington and Bowdon). 

"They've lost to really good people," Brown said. "And looking at them on film ... they look like a Trion football team. They're well-coached. They're big and they're physical. 

"They don't look any different than they did years ago when we played them. We'll have our hands full. It has always been a good game between us and Trion. It has always been a physical game, and most of the time it's decided by one touchdown or so."

Commerce and Trion have met seven times previously (2000, 2002, 2004-07). Commerce is 7-0. Three of the wins came in the playoffs. Five of the seven games were decided by eight points or less.

Going into the matchup, Brown said the first thing his team has to do in order to be successful vs. Trion is eliminate the fumbles and penalties. Against George Walton, both reared their heads and helped get Commerce behind on the scoreboard. 

"That's the first thing we have to do," he said. "The second thing is we've got to play assignment football on defense. We didn't do that very well at certain positions in the first half Friday night." 

Brown added Trion's offense will look similar to what George Walton ran. The Bulldogs were able to get ahead 21-0 by halftime. 

"Hopefully we can come back this week and correct some of our mistakes and get a little better at some of the things we're trying to do," Brown said. 

The coach doesn't want the team to stay focused on the accomplishment of the 22-unanswered points in the comeback vs. George Walton, though. 

"There's a lot of good things we can learn," he said. "Obviously we're never out of it. There's obviously issues in the first half we want to learn from, but the other thing is we need to put it behind us for right now and focus on the task at hand. 

"We'll be able to enjoy that win for a long, long time after the season is over, but we've got to get focused on Trion now. We want to put it behind us and move on. Essentially, we're 0-0 right now. We kind of treat it like the beginning of a new season." 

The playoffs have in many ways become a second home to Commerce. This season marks the 23rd-straight appearance in the playoffs for the Tigers. 

"You always want to have an opportunity to play your best in the playoffs, and that's kind of been our goal," Brown said. "We've talked to our kids on a weekly basis about getting better. Getting better on a weekly basis for 11 or 12 weeks. So hopefully, now, what you're able to do is reap what you've hopefully sowed over the course of a season. 

"It's a very enjoyable thing to get hot in November. I've been a part of teams that got hot in November and made runs. You want it for the kids. You want the kids to enjoy that part of playing football. It's an exciting time. At the same time, you know the margin of error is very, very slim." 

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