KETCHUM -Never bring up a no-hitter around a baseball pitcher.
Commerce might be taking the same approach to its string of 20 scoreless quarters.
“It's something that we haven't talked a whole lot about,” Commerce head coach Willie Ng said. “It's one of those things that's happening, but we don't make a big deal about it. At the same time, its still in the back of their minds.”
The Tigers hope to make Ketchum a school record-tying seventh victim by shutout on the season.
They blanked Wyandotte 44-0 in the opener, then rocked Fairland 54-19.
Nobody's scored since freshman Josh Boyd returned a fumble 31 yards for the Owls with 3:43 remaining in the game.
Commerce hasn't given up a point in 243:43 - a streak spanning five-plus games (wins over Foyil, Afton, Oklahoma Union, Okay and Salina).
“It didn't start out that way,” Ng said. “You never want anybody to score. If they can't score they can't win. It's come to the point where the starters are taking more pride in the defense and they don't want anybody to get a first down. That says a lot about them. They do a good job.”
The Tigers have allowed only 967 yards in total offense this season - an ultra-balanced 483 yards on the ground and 484 via the airways.
The 156 yards rushing by Salina in last week's 56-0 rout was the most allowed by CHS.
That's the only time an opponent has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game.
The Tigers have 12 players with 25 or more tackles, topped by Dusty Edens with 68.
Dusty Williams has 61 tackles, three fumble recoveries and an interception while Bryson Sullivan has logged 55 tackles and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.
Travis Eads has posted 52 tackles and two fumble recoveries, followed by Sean Richard with 43 tackles and two fumble recoveries, Ryan Nowlin with 41 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and Dylan Hutson with 36 takedowns, three sacks and a fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown.
“Jack (defensive coordinator Jack Kelley) has come up with some good schemes,” Ng said. “Our overall team speed helps. We can close on the ball, get to it. We preach hustle, hustle, hustle, and these kids have really bought into it.
Ng said he noticed during a recent film session that all 11 defensive players were around the ball, with eight on the ground.
“It's incredible,” he said. “It's fun to watch because it's just a big blue mass.”
The 1986 Tigers, coached by John Tiger, had six consecutive shutouts to begin their season.
And in 1978, Commerce logged six shutouts, including three during a playoff run that carried it to the state finals.
The school record for most shutouts in a season is seven, posted by the 1973 Tigers. They went 10-0 before falling to Oologah in the first round.
“It's not going to be the end of the world if someone does score,” Ng said. “As long as our score is bigger than their score, that's what matters. We would like to keep it intact.”
Ketchum (4-2) shares fourth place in District A-8 with Afton and Fairland. All three are 3-2.
The Warriors started 4-0 but have lost two of their last three, including back-to-back losses to Salina (22-6) and Foyil (30-12). They bounced back with an 18-8 win over Hulbert last Thursday.
“Ketchum is banged up,” Ng said. “Coach Burnham (head coach Chad Burnham) said Kay's shoulder (senior running back Harrison Kay) is still bothering him. They're a different team when he's in their. He's a good football player and can make things happen.”
Ng said the Warriors also have been playing as many as three freshmen in the offensive and defensive lines.
Commerce wraps up the home portion of the schedule next Friday by hosting Quapaw.