The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

November 22, 2012

Commerce makes long trip to tackle Frederick

After four consecutive home games, it was time for the Commerce Tigers to hit the road.

Boy, are they ever.

The Tigers are traveling almost to the southwestern border of Oklahoma to face the Frederick Bombers in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A playoffs at 7:30 tonight. According to mapquest.com, the drive takes 5 hours, 11 minutes.

“Google says it’s 339 miles,” Commerce coach Steve Moss said. “I guess we’ll find out how long of a trip it is on the way. It’s a long dang ways. I know that.”

Moss said the team planned to leave 5 p.m. Thursday, have a Thanksgiving meal together and stay the night in Lawton so that the team will have a chance to recover from the trip before tonight’s game.

The Tigers will need to be ready, because they are playing a team that has dominated statistically all year.

Frederick (12-0) has outscored its opponents by an average score of 62.3-10.4. The Bombers have won every game by at least 26 points and average 587 yards — 357.4 passing and 229.6 rushing — per game.

“They throw the ball around,” Moss said. “They have a lot of passing yards, but most of them come on short passes. They throw a lot of screens. They are a really good throwing team, but they use a Texas Tech style offense.”

Bombers senior quarterback Trevor Flores has completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,755 yards with 46 touchdowns and four interceptions.

However, Flores suffered a concussion during Frederick’s 49-13 win last week against Alva. He was taken to the hospital after the injury and may not be able to play tonight. If he can’t, senior Blake Cotten will likely get the start. In a reserve role, Cotten has completed 19 of 24 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’re looking right now that Blake Cotten will play for us,” Frederick coach Hugh Farmer said. “He started a couple games last year when there were injuries, and he did a real good job for us. Blake’s real comfortable with the playbook. He’s played a lot of snaps in the second half of games. He’s Trevor’s cousin. He’s definitely ready to go.”

No matter who starts at quarterback, Moss said the Tigers are going to approach the game the same way.

“They’re averaging 62 points a game,” Moss said. “What they’re doing seems to be working. I don’t expect them to change anything.”

Commerce (11-1) has used the week of practice to prepare for the Bombers’ spread passing attack.

“We haven’t faced another offense like this,” Moss said. “This is new and different to us. On the flipside, they haven’t seen a running offense like us.”

Most of the teams in Frederick’s district also run spread offenses. Meanwhile, the Tigers boast a potent rushing attack with 300.2 yards per game. Senior running back Parker Morgan has rushed for 1,508 yards and 16 touchdowns on 184 carries, while junior running back D.C. Chance has run for 1,452 yards and 21 touchdowns on 158 totes.

“Both of those guys run so hard,” Farmer said. “There are lots of times where it looks like they were stopped and then they break three or four tackles. We will have to preach wrapping them up all week.”

Commerce is on an 11-game winning streak since losing 28-14 to Mount Vernon (Mo.) in the season opener.

“I think it’s going to be a battle in the trenches,” Farmer said. “On defense, we’re going to have to play disciplined football. It will be a challenge for us up front.”

The winner will advance to the next week’s semifinal against tonight’s winner of Stroud at Oklahoma Christian School.

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