By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
COMMERCE, Okla. —
Parker Morgan is a lanky runner who is a threat any time he gets outside. D.C. Chance is a bulky, hard-nosed player who prefers to run directly at defenders.
Together, they fuel a Commerce Tigers rushing attack that is averaging about 300 yards per game. Morgan and Chance have each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and have helped the Tigers to nine consecutive wins and a Class 2A playoff berth.
Commerce (9-1) will face Pawhuska (4-6) in a home first-round playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Tigers’ dynamic duo of Morgan and Chance have played big roles this season.
Morgan has rushed for 1,348 yards and 14 touchdowns on 155 carries, and Chance has compiled 1,080 yards and 18 touchdowns on 119 carries. Both are running for more than 100 yards per game and more than eight yards per carry.
“It’s great,” Chance said. “Parker is a real good running back. He gets the ball and takes it to the house. I get the ball and take it to the house.”
Morgan agreed that it’s nice to have another running back sharing the load.
“It’s nice knowing that I have his back and he has mine,” Morgan said. “We can have faith in what the other person can do and their ability to get the ball down field.”
Having two quality runners is one thing, but having two quality runners with different abilities really benefits the Tiger offense. At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Chance is able to get the tough inside yards. The 6-foot, 175-pound Morgan boasts a 4.5-second 40-yard-dash time.
“It opens up the offense quite a bit,” Commerce coach Steve Moss said. “We can do several things that we haven’t always been able to do. We have a big, strong kid who’s a great threat at running between the tackles, and we got somebody with speed who can get outside and leave people.”
Moss said it is the first time the Tigers have had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season since Tyler Williams and Derek Boman reached the mark in 2002. Having two running backs put up those type of numbers, it makes it difficult for a defense to key on either player.
“It helps immensely,” Moss said. “When we know they’re keying one guy more than the other, we can send him one way and get the other guy going another way. If one kid has success, the linebackers start following him and we start going the other way. The just feed off each other like that.”
But Morgan and Chance realize that they can go only as far as their offensive line can take them.
“They’ve progressed in what they do,” Morgan said. “They’re a real big help to us. Most of the credit should go to them because they do all the hard work and we just do our job.”
The Tigers feature a strong offensive line with all five weighing more than 200 pounds. Center Andrew Rickey, guards Seth Roberts and Juan Marquez and tackles Andrew Medlin and Luis Prado, along with tight end Jerrod Kirtley have helped the team rush for nearly 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.
“The line is great,” Moss said. “All five are juniors up front. Three of them started last year. They all worked their rears off all summer long. They lift weights like crazy and have gotten quite a bit stronger.”
As good as the running game has been, the Tigers realize they will need to throw the ball as they move forward in the playoffs. While running the ball is Commerce’s strength, it feels comfortable with the passing game. Junior quarterback Blake Jameson has passed for 658 yards and seven touchdowns.
“We haven’t needed to pass the ball a whole lot,” Moss said. “We did against Salina. The fourth quarter, we were down and started throwing. The first play offensively was an 80-yard touchdown pass. I felt like when we’ve needed it for a game so far it has came through for us. We just haven’t needed it a whole lot yet. Our strong suit is running, but we’re going to keep practicing throwing for the time we need it and hope it’s ready to go when that time comes.”