The Commerce Tigers got their first playoff victory in over 10 years in 2012. Head coach Scott Wells recognizes the expectations that come with success and is cautiously optimistic about this season.
“Our expectation has always been to make the playoffs and win playoff games, so from that standpoint, nothing has really changed,” Wells said. “We never really talk about winning or losing…we talk about trying to do things right, and to be perfect on the field…we understand that we’ll never be perfect, but we’ll be a lot closer to perfect than if we’re not trying to be.”
The biggest expectations are pinned on Wells' son and starting quarterback for the Tigers, Sam Wells. He’s the Dave Campbell’s 2013 Texas Football preseason offensive MVP for District 6-2A DI, and he’s also the returning stat leader for the district, with 2,165 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions. Sam is up for the pressure this year, too.
“You just got to focus and not try to do too much,” Sam Wells said. “Just relax and play the game, and everything will take care of itself.”
Isaiah Martinez, who was a first team All-District defensive lineman last season, is moving over to linebacker to help the odd-front defense come along. In 2012 he had 90 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles for the Tigers.
Even though the Tigers are returning 13 starters this year, Wells is a little concerned about the holes in the offensive line left by the graduation of Blake Madewell, Robert West, and Ian Lackey. If those can be patched, then Commerce’s balanced offense (173.3 yards per game on the ground, 178.7 yards per game through the air) could become something to fear.
“The search is going well so far," Wells said "We’ve only had two days of pads, but we’ll know a lot more Friday after our scrimmage against Winnsboro. I’ve been very pleased with the linemen that we have…we’re probably more athletic than we’ve been in recent years, and we have some more size than I thought we had.”
Other key losses for the Tigers include Buck Wilson, a wide receiver who was known for his ability to turn a five yard pass into a 40 or 50 yard carry after the catch; Cortez Crosby, who picked up 234 tackles over his three year varsity career and 14 sacks; and Daryian Hubbard, who was the do-everything man for the Tigers, playing at wide receiver, running back and defensive back.
But Wells is confident that players will step up in these positions as well, saying that “this year we don’t have that one guy that’s just really, really, really head-and-shoulders above everybody else, but we’ve got six or seven that are all pretty good.”
Commerce is currently projected to finish second in the district behind Farmersville, but with tough games against North Lamar (5-6 bi-district finalist in 3A) and Princeton (12-1 regional semi-finalist in 3A) to start the season and road district games at Van Alstyne (14 returning starters), at Pottsboro (11-1 regional semi-finalist) and at Farmersville (6-5 bi-district finalist), the Tigers’ season could change dramatically every week.
Even so, with Sam Wells, Isaiah Martinez, Demetric Jennings, and Robert Jackson returning for the Tigers, they should be able to snag one of the four playoff spots in their district and head to the postseason for the third year in a row.
“Chances are going to be pretty good I think; we’ve got a lot of kids coming back,” Wells said. “They’re taking four to the playoffs this year, and in the past only 5A and 4A have done that and now it’s bled all the way through. So I feel like our chances of making that top four are pretty good.”
Head Coach: Scott Wells 2012 Results: 7-5 area finalist, 5-2 in District 6-2A Division I Top Players: QB Sam Wells, Sr., 6-1, 185; Passing 206-283-6, 23 TD, 2165 yards; Rushing 65-319 yards, 5 TD. LB Isaiah Martinez, Sr., 5-9, 198; 90 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles. RB Robert Jackson, Jr., 5-7, 185; Rushing 66-554 yards, 9 TD. WR D’Lance Sharp, Jr., 5-11, 165; Receiving 16-291 yards, 3 TD. OL Demetric Jennings, Sr., 6-3, 195; 65 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 INT.