At this point in the season, there’s little use trying to hide your weaknesses or disguise your strengths. Eleven games have laid them all bare.
For Commerce (7-4, No. 2 Region 8-A), the backbone is the running game, just as it has been for years. Coach Steve Savage’s teams have long been known for their smash-mouth, run-first offenses.
For Darlington (7-4, No. 1 Region 6-A), the story’s the same.
“They’ve been a Wing-T team forever,” Savage said. “They’ve been doing it a long time, and they know what they’re doing, and they’re good at it.”
Fullback Tylon Garrett, who rushed 24 times for 142 yards in a 16-14 win over Warren County in the first round, is the focal point of Darlington’s attack. Speedster Cedric Spivey adds balance, and freshman quarterback Brad Butler impressed Savage on film.
“You can’t tell he’s a freshman,” Savage said. “You could go back and look at the fifth or sixth week of the season and still not be able to tell. They run a finesse offense and he does a good job with it.”
Commerce also has an underclassman running the offense in sophomore quarterback Cody Streetman, who’s thrown for 623 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception while rushing for 427 yards and seven scores.
But any discussion of Commerce’s offense starts with senior running back Deon Brock, who leads the area with 1,653 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Last week, Brock went over the 200-yard mark for the second straight week, rushing for 243 yards and four touchdowns on eight carries. For the season, he’s averaging nearly 12 yards per carry.
Commerce also leans on senior Jon Cash (470 rushing yards, 229 receiving yards), and could find success against Darlington’s defense.
Darlington, which lost its first three games playing a difficult schedule, is giving up more than 21 points per game including 20 points or more eight times.
However, the defense stood tall and turned back Warren County at the goal line at the end of last week’s first half.
Darlington also benefited from a pair of blocked punts and has now blocked three punts in their last two games.
“It’s going to be two pretty good teams,” Savage said of Friday’s matchup. “In my experience in games like that it comes down to turnovers and kicking games — who excels in them and who messes up.”