Tigers striving to play with chip on shoulder [VIDEO]
There weren’t many who gave Commerce a fighting chance when going in the opening week to Southside (SC) to take on the back-to-back state champions, who were ranked #1 overall and had won 22 straight ball games. News alert: the Tigers took care of business and shocked two states at once (Georgia and South Carolina). That’s what this Commerce team is capable of.
“It was special,” says coach Mark Hollars. “It was great to see the payoff for our kids. We had made a big deal all summer about playing them, we have a lot of respect for their program. There wasn’t a day that went by all summer that we weren’t focused on Southside. Now that I have hindset to look back on it, we played clean football that night. We had zero turnovers…the last couple of weeks it hasn’t been that way. We’ve got to work to get back to that, and be our best on Friday nights at 7:30.”
The Tigers are now 1-2 overall, but the two losses are by a combined 15 points, including Week Two’s one-point loss to Murphy (NC). Commerce, one of the state’s most historic programs – 636 wins, 18 region titles, 2 state championships – is a play or two in each game from being 3-0, and they know they need to get back to where they were that first game.
“Football is mental,” adds Hollars. “You can’t lose convidence in yourself. You can’t get comfortable with success. I’d like to think we are humble and hungry, and that’s the way I want us to stay. Where each week you have a chip on your shoulder to prove yourself. We’re a good football team when we’re clicking on all cylinders…playing for each other. It’s about playing and being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
The Tigers have talented players on both sides of the ball, including sophomore sensation Jaiden Daniels, who has 425 yards and 7 TD already this season just 3 games in. He went for 1,425 rushing yards and 13 scores a year ago. Alongside Daniels is Jacari Huff (143 yds, 1 TD) and JP Allen (157 yds, 1 TD). Daniels, whose been nicknamed ‘Baby Goat’ by his dad, Lamar Daniels, who himself was a standout back for the state championship team back in 2000. Daniels is adament about the work the team has been putting in.
“We set goals for each other as a team,” says Daniels. “At practice, we work hard to fight for everything we want.”
The term that resonates with this program is one that many football teams use, but it has deep roots at Commerce.
“It’s been brotherhood forever here,” says senior leader Hampton Hutto. “Brotherhood symbolizes that everybody is together, and you’ll do anything for your brother. Even in baseball our motto is no excuses. I’ve carried that over to football. We can’t have any excuses.”
Commerce’s rich tradition means that all the players who put on that jersey are playing for something bigger than themselves. Many of their families have gone to Commerce before them, and so on.
“It’s very special to put on that jersey,” says Daniels. “I feel like we have to put in the work because we have them supporting us, and they got our back. It feels real good, and to get a ‘W’, that feels real good.”