By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The Meeker Bulldogs aren’t setting out to stop Commerce’s running game.
Meeker coach Mike Hedge is well aware of how strong the Tigers’ rushing attack is with Parker Morgan and D.C. Chance, who have combined for 2,732 yards and 32 touchdowns.
“You don’t try to stop them,” Hedge said. “You try to slow them down. You try and hold them to short runs and not those 40-yard runs, because both of them can do it in an instant. And that’s how you get beat.”
The Bulldogs will try to contain the Tiger duo in the second round of the Oklahoma Class 2A playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Commerce.
Commerce (10-1) enters on a 10-game winning streak after dropping its opener 28-14 to Mount Vernon (Mo.). The Tigers have rushed for 306.2 yards per game. Morgan leads the way with 1,402 yards and 16 touchdowns on 167 carries. Chance isn’t far behind with 1,330 yards and 20 touchdowns on 140 carries.
Chance, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior, is coming off a brilliant performance in last week’s 48-15 playoff win over Pawhuska when he rushed for 250 yards on 21 carries. As a team, Commerce rushed for 372 yards and four touchdowns on 44 carries.
“They’re a good football team,” Hedge said. “They’re well coached and do things right.”
Meeker (7-4) is a young team that lost four of its first six games. However, the Bulldogs enter on a five-game winning streak led by freshman quarterback Jake Standlee, who has rushed for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“As their quarterback goes, their offense goes,” Commerce coach Steve Moss said. “Their quarterback had a few problems early, and maybe he was thinking too much as a freshman. With that, it took him a little while to get into the groove, but he’s gotten in the groove as of late. He’s running the offense real well.
“It takes a special kid to put a guy in as a freshman at quarterback. He’s been thrown in there and has 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing. He’s a good athlete for sure.”
Standlee, who didn’t start in Meeker’s season-opening 27-6 loss to rival Prague, has gradually learned to master the Bulldogs’ wing-T misdirection offense.
“Meeker has been playing well as of late,” Moss said. “They run an offense that as far as I know, these boys have never seen it. They run a true wing-T. It’s something that’s taken quite a bit of extra time on defense this week, just so they know the little nuances and make sure they stay home. Make sure they do their job. Don’t chase flow. Don’t chase where they think the ball is going. Stay where they’re suppose to be.”
Commerce’s defense will be a challenged by a Meeker team that has scored 43 points per game during its winning streak.
The Tigers’ defense is led by Chance at linebacker. He’s recorded 108 tackles on the season, including 13 against Pawhuska. Sophomore defensive tackle Jowa Zamarripa has posted 100 tackles and three sacks. Senior defensive back Jerrod Kirtley has two interceptions, five pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Kirtley said the Tigers need to stay disciplined against Meeker.
“We’ve been watching out for the penalties,” Kirtley said. “At the first of the season, we had a lot of penalties and that really cost us in the first game. So we just try to not get as many penalties and just keep doing what we’re doing.”
The winner of the Commerce and Meeker game will play Nov. 23 against the winner of Frederick and Alva.