COMMERCE — One thing Steve Moss likes about his 2018 Commerce Tigers: “We’ve got kids that listen and work hard.”
The Tigers had their final tune-up before kicking off the season Thursday, Aug. 23 when they faced Wyandotte in a scrimmage at NEO’s Red Robertson Field.
“Now we can fix things and try to get better,” Moss said.
The Tigers now begin gearing up for their Friday, Aug. 31 debut at Adair while Wyandotte entertains Fairland.
The teams have regularly met during the season as district rivals, but that changed when CHS dropped down to Class A for at least the next two seasons.
The Tigers mostly worked on the ground game against Wyandotte.
“We tried to throw it some,” Moss said. “A scrimmage is a practice. You aren’t trying to win. There was one time we threw on first and second down and went third-and-18, ran power for 30 yards for a first down. You don’t see that happen.”
By scrimmaging Thursday, Moss said his staff had a chance to go check out the Warriors, who come in Week 1 of a rugged non-district schedule.
The Tigers face Adair, Frontenac, Kansas, and Green Forest, Arkansas, the first three weeks.
“We set it up like that on purpose because we want to make this a good football team,” Moss said. “We can win all three football games, but we’ve just got to play really well.”
Wyandotte head coach Zac Ross liked the improvement his Bears showed from last week’s scrimmage with Colcord at Locust Grove.
“I liked the improvement we made over the week,” said Ross, who is in his first season as the Bears’ head coach. “We had some kids play that we found out a lot about. I am excited because it just adds more depth to what we have.
“We played hard, which I like to see.
The Bears were inside the Commerce 5-yard line three times, but couldn’t score.
“There were some things we would probably have done if it wasn’t a scrimmage and that we haven’t shown yet, which I think would have helped,” Ross said.
“Offensively we ran the ball really well, which is what I liked.”
The Owls went up against Class 2A Kansas for their final test.
“We were really pleased defensively,” Fairland head coach Kent Marshall said. “They scored once on us, but we had a big time bust in alignment.
“You take that away and they had a hard time moving the ball on us.”
On the down side, the Owls lost both their starting and backup quarterbacks early in the scrimmage.
Riley Powell had been targeted as Fairland’s No. 1 quarterback, but he will miss the season with an injury.
Freshman Braxton Jones as penciled in as the starter, but he went down early.
Senior Cole Cawlfield, who had started at quarterback in the first scrimmage but was moved back to receiver to bolster that area, tweaked a knee a short time later.
That meant senior wide receiver Thatcher Smalley had to take over as the Owls’ signal caller.
“We’ve got seven or eight kids I am very pleased with,” Marshall said.
“We found a running back in Jamal Morris,” Marshall said.
Morris, a 6-0, 190-pound senior, broke loose on a long run.
Junior two-way lineman James Handrich, senior tight end and defensive end Jay Padberg and senior lineman Grant Harden also drew praise from Marshall for their play.
The Owls travel to Wyandotte for their opener.