Tiger Tales 8
During 30 years as a head varsity basketball coach in Georgia, Billy Hendricks successfully led his teams to 414 wins, nine sub-region titles, two region championships and six appearances in the Georgia High School state basketball playoffs.
He finished his 30 year basketball coaching career from 1970-2001 with a (414-293)
record as a high school head basketball coach in Georgia.
As a player at Commerce from 1958-1961, he excelled as one of the greatest all around
athletes ever to play for the Tigers receiving a total of 12 varsity letters.
He participated as a halfback in football from 1959-60 where he led Commerce to a (7-2-1) record in his senior year. In his two years as a starting halfback for the Tigers, he gained 2487 yards of total offense and 1867 yards of this total offense came during his senior season in 1960.
He also led the team in scoring in 1960 with 86 points. He accumulated a total of 20 touchdowns in his two year career. Additionally, he was also voted as one of the two captains for the 1960 team.
As a guard in basketball, he led Commerce to runner-up status in region play in 1960 and 1961. His tenacious defense was his trademark as a starting point guard for the Tiger team during his two-year stint as a starter.
He also starred in baseball as well as track where he was clocked in the 100-yard dash at 10.3 seconds.
Billy Hendricks was another one of the finest athletes to walk the halls of CHS. His grit, determination and sheer guts were evident to all who watched him perform as an athlete at Commerce High School.
In 1961, he was a starting guard on the Truett-McConnell basketball team before injuring a knee.
Later as a coach, he successfully built a fine basketball program at Commerce High School from 1974-1980 where he won three sub-region championships. He led the Tigers to one region championship in the 1979-80 season with an (18-7) record and was awarded
Coach of the Year honors by The Anderson Independent. He had a Commerce career coaching record of (90-54) in six years at his alma mater.
As a Tiger football assistant backfield coach in the 1970’s, he was part of three region championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and one state runner-up in 1976.
He also served as head basketball coach and assistant football coach at Charlton County, West Rome and Thomasville.
Additionally, he had successful basketball teams at Tallulah Falls, Rabun County, Madison County, West Hall and at Elbert County where he won one region basketball championship.
In his final six-year coaching career at Newton High School as head basketball coach, he finished with a 113-46 record. At Newton, Hendricks had some of his better teams which were laden with talent.
Billy Hendricks’ teams always played with great effort and poise offensively but will always be most remembered for their tenacious defense that stifled opponents. Additionally, his teams will always be known for the class and sportsmanship which they always exhibited on and off the court.
Hendricks was a Georgia Athletic Coaches Association member for 37 years
2007 The All-Star MVP Basketball Award was permanently
named The Billy Hendricks Most Valuable Player Award.
2001 He was the North-South All Star Coach for the
North basketball team
1998 He was the Head Boys Coach of the Georgia-Tennessee
All Star Team
1995 He was President of the GACA or the Georgia Athletic
1987-91 He was Basketball State Chairman
In 2005, at the James A. Naismith Awards Banquet sponsored by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, Coach Billy Hendricks was the recipient of the Steve Schmidt Outstanding Contributor to Georgia Men’s Basketball Award in Georgia.
On August 31, 2007 before the start of the Rabun County game, Commerce High School honored Coach Billy Hendricks with a plaque as a great example of a true Commerce Tiger for his 30 year contribution to high school students and athletics in the state of Georgia.
Commerce has played only three overtime games in its long 84 year football history.
The first was a (21-20) heart throbbing affair in a difficult to take loss to East Rome in 1977 at Tiger Stadium. The Gladiator quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game for a game tying score, and then the East Rome kicker toed a successful PAT for the overtime win. See the full story in Tiger Tales 2 (East Rome).
The second Tiger overtime game was a (28-27) victory over Lovett in 1998 at Tiger Stadium. After Monte’ Williams had an unfortunate accident just before the half when he suffered a broken leg, QB Dustin Allen took the team on his shoulders and orchestrated a come-from-behind overtime victory over the Lions with 347 yards of total offense which is a Commerce record. See the full story in Tigers Tales 1 (Gut Check).
The third Tiger overtime game was another win this time (double overtime) over the Jefferson Dragons in Jefferson when sophomore Dusty Black kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Tigers a (34-31) hard-fought win in 2004. A more in depth story can be found in Tiger Tales 1 (Great Comebacks).
Only twice in the history of Commerce Tiger football has a safety been the first score of a game.
In 1940 in the second game of the season in a contest played at Winder, the Tigers’ first score was a safety in a (46-2) Commerce defeat. Commerce won only one game during this campaign in the first year of Commerce football following an eleven year hiatus since abandoning football following the 1928 season. Commerce had a record of (1-6-0) in 1940 defeating only Royston by a (33-0) score.
The only other first score safety during a Commerce game occurred out of state at Walhalla, S.C. in 2001 during the third game of the season. In the first quarter and on the first possession for the Walhalla team, the Tigers stopped the first drive for the Razorbacks forcing a punt deep in Walhalla territory.
The punt snapper got little too much leverage and propelled the punt snap over the head of the punter, as well as through and out of the end zone. This error gave the Tigers a two point safety, and the Tigers never touched the pigskin or a ball carrier on the play.
In the long River Rivalry between Commerce-Jefferson which spans a total of 64 games, there has been only one safety recorded during the series.
Additionally in the 1951 game won by Commerce (13-8), Jefferson linebacker Earl Carithers tackled Tiger back Jerry Aiken in the end zone during the fourth quarter for a safety and the game’s final score.
During the long football history of Commerce High School there have been five occasions where a Tiger football game has been postponed. Usually it has been due to weather but not always.
(1) In 1957 there was an influenza outbreak at the mid point of the season and the fifth game with South Habersham was scratched from Oct. 4 and then delayed for almost three weeks until Oct. 22 where it was later played on an unusual Tuesday night. Commerce won the thriller in Commerce (13-12), as halfback Gene Brake and fullback Willard Wofford scored for Commerce in this come-from-behind victory.
(2) In 1997 a playoff game with Greenville was postponed until Saturday because of torrential rains. The following day, the Tigers were able to defeat the Patriots in Commerce by a score of (21-12) on three short TD runs by quarterback Dustin Allen.
(3) The Sept. 14, 2001 game between Commerce and visiting Morgan County was postponed because of the 911 attacks on the United States by Arab terrorists. The game was played at the end of the regular season with the Tigers winning rather easily (27-10).
(4) The Sept. 26, 2002 game with visiting Lincoln County was postponed because of much rain until the Friday of the following week. Both teams luckily had open dates this week making rescheduling possible. Commerce won this packed stadium contest (28-6).
With 346 victories and tied with legendary Mary Persons coach Dan Pitts, Larry Campbell brought his Red Devils to Tigertown to try to become the all-time leader in victories as a high school football coach in Georgia.
However, the Tigers squelched that idea early by mounting a (21-0) halftime lead and maintained that advantage by eventually winning over Lincoln County with a (28-6) final score.
Tiger halfback Dennis Wilder finished with 147 yards in 11 carries and two touchdowns on the evening with the first coming on a 69-yard run with an option pitch on the third play of the game. The second was a four yard TD scamper.
Quarterback Josh Haynes added 67 yards on eighteen quarterback keepers and also scored twice on runs of four and two yards, as the Commerce Tigers built a (28-0) lead early in the third period en route to this great win forcing the legendary coach to wait until the following week to get his 347th record breaking win.
(5) The fifth game of 2004, once more with Lincoln County, was also postponed. It was scheduled for Friday but had to be postponed as well due to the frog-strangling rains that passed through the Commerce area due to the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.
The game was delayed until the following Saturday. The early start of 6:00 is the only time that Commerce has played a varsity game at this starting time. Lincoln County won the game with this unusual rainy scenario by an (18-13) score, as the Tigers were unable to score a late fourth quarter game winning touchdown from inside the Red Devils ten yard line.
Early TD Streak
During the thirteen game schedule of the 2003 season, Commerce backs scored on the first drive on ten of these possessions and the last nine drives in succession. Most of these scores came on either the first play of the drive or very early in the touchdown march.
(2) Banks County-Quarterback Josh Haynes connected with halfback Dennis Wilder for an 85-yard TD pass on the third play following the kickoff. Commerce won (35-14).
(5) Madison County-Wilder scored from four yards out on the ninth snap of the drive.
Commerce won (28-14).
(6) Athens Academy-Wilder dashed 73 yards up the middle on the game’s first play.
Commerce won (34-7).
(7) Athens Christian-Fullback David “Moose” Bray rumbled 41 yards over guard on the game’s first play. Commerce won (44-7).
(8) Towns County-Following a blocked punt by Tristan Daniels, Wilder scored from two yards out on the Tiger’s first offensive play. Commerce won the game (54-13).
(9) Jefferson-On the fourth play of the Tiger’s initial drive of the game, Wilder did it again.
He scored on an option pitch right from 50 yards out. Commerce won the game (35-13).
(10) Social Circle-Following the opening kickoff, Haynes scored on the seventh play of the drive which was an 8-yard option scamper. Commerce won (34-14).
(11) Whitefield Academy-David Bray scored on the third Tiger offensive play on a 3-yard touchdown run. Commerce won the game (42-21).
(12) Bremen-Wilder was at it again, as he scored on the first play of the game on a 78-yard touchdown gallop through the Bremen defense. Commerce won the game (28-14).
(13) Hawkinsville-On the second play of the game, Dennis Wilder received the option pitch and scampered around right end 64 yards to pay dirt. However, the Tigers lost this quarter final game at Hawkinsville to the eventual state Class A champions by a (25-6) score.
Wilder and Company were indeed phenomenal during the 2003 season, as they time and again scored the first time they had possession of the football during this season en route to a (10-3-0) record.
For three years Michael Collins, a 6’5”, 200 pound wide out, was the principal starting wide receiver for the Commerce Tigers (1997-99). He holds almost every offensive pass receiving record at Commerce High School
He has the most receiving yards in a career with 2339. In 1999, he broke the Tiger record for receiving in a season with 946 yards. He is the only Commerce player to have over 200 yards receiving in a game when he posted a 262 yard effort versus Rabun County in 1999. This was also a game in which he had four TD pass receptions also a Tiger record.
He had 27 touchdown passes in his three seasons as a starting split end with 16 of these coming in 1999. The list of honors goes on and on for Michael Collins at Commerce.
However, it was his senior season in 2000 that a person found out about the real Michael Collins. When he was asked by Coach Steve Savage to move to quarterback, he did so with enthusiasm. Commerce needed a quarterback, and he was the best athlete available.
He had outstanding leadership qualities. Everybody in the huddle on offense and defense knew who was in charge of the 2000 Commerce football team that went on to post a record of (13-2-0) that year as well as became Class A State Football Champion. He captured each player’s attention when he spoke.
Additionally, Collins had 1060 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in leading the run oriented Tiger option offense and was a captain on this 2000 team.
On any given Commerce football night in 2000, Michael Collins to Monte’ Williams on the option pitch as well as the rest of the company of the Commerce football team could put on some “whale of a football show” for Tiger football fans. They were indeed exciting to watch.
When you look up the words “leader” or “field general” in the dictionary, you might find Michael Collins picture there one day. You might just call him “General Collins” because of his ability to lead the troops.
Michael Collins was not only a super football player as well as a superb basketball player, but more importantly he was an outstanding student in the classroom. He was truly what many call a great example of a “student-athlete”.
There are four monuments in Tigers Stadium dedicated to the efforts of four people who dedicated their lives to the promotion of Commerce High School and CHS athletics.
(1) W.R. Lang was superintendent at CHS for nineteen years from 1951-1970. A monument in his honor was erected in 1993 before the Banks County game.
(2) Coach Ray Lamb was head football coach at CHS for 22 years (1967-88). He had a career record as Tiger head mentor of (190-58-9), a winning percentage of .766 . His monument was erected in 1993 before the Banks County game.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Georgia High School Coaches Hall of Fame with a combined career winning record of (250-102-11) over the span of 32 years as a head coach at three Georgia high schools–Warren County, Commerce and Monroe Area.
(3) Dr. Joe Griffeth who was a prominent physician in Commerce served also as the team physician for the Tigers for 47 years from (1954-2000). His monument was erected in 2000 at Tiger Stadium before the Forsyth Central game.
(4) Gerald Jordan was the “Voice of the Commerce Tigers” on WJJC radio for a total of 25 years (1981-2006).
His enthusiasm for his alma mater told everyone who listened over the air waves that he was indeed a “homer”. He loved the Commerce Tigers with a passion that few in our community have displayed. You knew by the sound of his voice that the Tigers had scored when the sound of TOUCHDOWN gradually faded as he strung out his voice.
He is truly missed. His monument at Tiger Stadium was erected in 2006 before the Jefferson game.
He and his brother Robin operated WJJC radio station in Commerce for many years. Robin still operates WJJC radio station today and has assumed the job as “Voice of the Tigers”.
When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again
An old American Civil War song was popular in its day and was called “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again”. Commerce has had some former players come marching back home to Commerce to coach against their former Tiger team.
On four occasions, former Commerce Tiger football players have gone on to receive head coaching jobs at other Georgia high schools that the Tigers have ended up playing.
(1) Gene White played at Commerce (1948-49) and later went on to letter at the University of Georgia for three years (1951-53) and was a professional football player for the Green Bay Packers for one season in 1954 before injury ended his career.
White coached the Lavonia Bulldogs for one game against Commerce in Tiger Stadium in a (13-6) Tiger loss in a 1957 game that was played on an extremely foggy night.
(2) Ken Davis played football at Commerce (1958-1961). He later started as a center and linebacker at the University of Georgia and lettered from (1963-1965).
Davis later coached against Commerce while head coach at Lumpkin County (1972-73) and Madison County (1977-79).
(3) David “Att” Stephenson played football for Commerce (1964-66). Later, he coached against Commerce while being the head mentor of Monroe Area High School (1976-77).
Presently, he is a teacher in the Commerce school system.
(4) Hal Lamb played for his father Ray Lamb at Commerce High from (1980-82). He has recently had a very successful career as being the head coach of Calhoun High School taking them deep into the state football playoffs in Georgia during the last decade.
Also, Hal Lamb recently has coached the Calhoun Yellow Jackets against his alma mater of Commerce in (2006-07).
These four men were all great players at Commerce and have been fine coaches at well at the high school level in Georgia.
Runt and the Hoss
In the 1972 game at Oconee County, guard Joe Jones and halfback Runt Moon as captains of the team met at midfield with opposing players from OC. QB Abe Brown as a co-captain stood just behind the Tiger captains.
Just before the officials arrived at the center of the field, the Warriors’ Indian mascot rode up on a horse to where the captains of both teams were standing. There, he thrust a spear into the ground a la the mascot of the Florida State Seminole’s before their football games commence.
Runt is said to have asked the Indian warrior a question. “What do you do with that hoss?” said Moon. “I ride him a portion of the field every time that the Oconee County football team scores a touchdown,” said the rider.
Moon replied, “It is a good thing that you don’t ride him a length of the field every time that I score a touchdown, for you would ride him to death.”
By this time the officials had arrived and all standing there in the midfield area but the rider had a good laugh.
Runt Moon was somewhat of a prophet, for he scored on the very first play that Commerce ran from scrimmage. It which was a distance of 80 yards. However, Commerce was given a five yard motion penalty that set the Tigers back to the Commerce 15 yard line.
Coach Ray Lamb of the Tigers then sent in the same play once more, and Runt Moon this time went 85 yards for another TD. This one counted. He scored one other touchdown on the night in a (51-8) scalping of the Oconee County Warriors in Watkinsville.
The Oconee County mascot on this night did not ride that horse but once, and that was only when Commerce put in the reserves in the final quarter. Selah.
Runt had career rushing totals of 5683 yards (1971-73), and he scored a total of 72 touchdowns and 454 points during his remarkable career at Commerce. If the mounted mascot at Oconee County had been the mascot at Commerce, Moon might have truly run that horse to death.
So many of the Commerce games during the Runt Moon Era were blowouts and were really over by halftime for this 1973 team co-captain. Therefore, he played very little in the second half in many of these contests. If he had played more there is no telling how many touchdowns the young man would have scored in his career at CHS.
Abe Brown/Jeff Prickett
There have been only two occasions in Commerce football history when the Tigers as well as their opponent have each worn black pants in the same contest—1996 and 2009.
In 1996 Commerce traveled to Tiger, Georgia to play the Rabun County Wildcats. Commerce was bested in this game by a (21-7) score. Commerce led (7-0) at the half but had a total of six turnovers with five coming as a result of fumbles.
Quarterback Brandon Bruce scored the only TD of the night for Commerce with a 41-yard option keeper touchdown run which was the only major Tiger highlight of the evening.
Commerce “blew out a tire” in this contest, as they gave away numerous scoring opportunities in enemy territory through their own inefficiency with the football.
In 2009 the Tigers traveled to Social Circle to play the Redskins. This time Commerce came away with a (42-14) win on a night when both teams wore black pants.
Commerce had two backs with over 100 yards rushing on the night. Deon Brock contributed 126 and one touchdown run of 14 yards, while Jon Cash added 106 yards on the ground and a touchdown run of three yards.
Cody Streetman scored on runs of two and ten yards, and the young quarterback also threw a 20-yard TD pass to split end Carl Allen.
However, the highlight of the evening may have been the 54-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jesse Savage on the fifth play of the game. The son of Coach Steve Savage stepped in front of a slant pass from the left side near midfield and made a perfect play on the ball as if he was in the huddle when the play was called and knew what play was coming.
He then streaked down the sideline for the opening score of the night as the Commerce Tigers got off to a rousing start in this overwhelming victory against the Indians at “the Cemetery”.
Black pants were first used by Commerce in 1948 and 1949. Later, in 1962-1964 Commerce wore black trousers for the second period of time.
Recently, Commerce has worn the black pants beginning in the seventh game of the 1992 season at home in a loss versus Dacula.
Commerce has worn black pants at various times in every season since 1992 and through the 2009 campaign.
Gold pants were worn by the Tigers from 1940-1947. They were worn again for two seasons from 1960-61. Coach Jeff Davis went to the gold pants once more in 1965-66.
When Coach Ray Lamb became the Tigers’ head mentor in 1967, he continued the tradition of wearing the gold pants from the 1967 season for 22 years through the 1988 campaign. They had the black and white braid stripe down the side of the pants leg.
In 1989 when Steve Savage became the Tiger head coach, he switched to the solid gold pants with no stripes down the side of the leg. These types of pants were used at times through 1995.
In 1992, Savage also introduced the white pants with a wide black stripe, and also initiated the use of the solid black pants as well.
In 1996, Savage started the use of the black pants with a wide gold stripe two-thirds of the way down the side of the pants. These were used for a number of years.
Variations of white, gold and black pants have been used by Commerce 1995-2009 through various games during these seasons.
There have been a few games over the years when the Commerce Tigers absolutely overwhelmed their opponent.
The largest victory in Tiger history came at East Hall when Commerce defeated the Vikings by a score of (83-0). Commerce did not even score in the first period of this game. However, Commerce led at the half (35-0). Tony Davis kicked eight PAT’s in this contest.
At Norcross in the final game of the regular season in 1966, the score was tied (0-0) at the end of the third quarter, before Commerce scored 40 unanswered points in the final stanza to win going away (40-0). Commerce ended the season with a (10-1-0) record.
At Commerce in 1975 in the opening game of the season, Commerce scored 62 points in a (62-0) defeat of the Banks County Leopards. The Tigers posted a record of (7-1-2).
In 1949 in the last game of the season, Commerce culminated a season record of (8-2-0) by defeating the Dragons at Jefferson (61-0) in the most lopsided game of the series.
In the point parade, Commerce defeated South Hall in Commerce by a (61-0) score and four years later pummeled North Hall’s Trojans by a (60-0) score.
These are six of the most one-sided games in Tiger football history.
The two worst Commerce defeats came in 1923 at Commerce vs. Tech High in an (83-0) loss and in 1941 when the Tigers lost to Winder in an away game (67-0).
One sided games like the ones listed above are rare. However, at times one team is decidedly overmatched and the team with a decided advantage goes on a “point parade” and the game score gets out of hand.
At times throughout the history of Commerce football, a very talented Tiger team has been upset by a not so talented opponent.
Example: In 1950, the talent rich Commerce team sporting an 11-game winning streak over two seasons traveled to Cornelia to play South Habersham. Commerce came back home with a surprising (7-0) loss to a Rebel team that had lost its first two games of the season but were (4-2-0) at the time this game was played.
However, Commerce has upset more teams than it has lost to over the years. The following are a few examples.
1951—Commerce with an eventual (3-7) season record upset the eventual (7-3) Jefferson Dragons by a (13-8) score in a game played in Commerce. Tiger halfback Bootsey White, a freshman, with his great performance in this contest was the AJC “Player of the Week” in Georgia.
1957—Commerce upset the #1 ranked Washington Tigers by a (27-6) score in Washington. Commerce was voted the “Team of the Week” in Georgia by the AJC. Commerce posted a season record of (7-3-0).
1960—Commerce upset eventual Region 4A South sub-region champion Winder-Barrow in the second game of the season by a (19-7) score. The Tiger highlight was the interception of eight Bulldog passes and the recovery of two WB fumbles. Ten total turnovers in one game by an opponent is a Commerce record. Commerce had a season record of (7-2-1) in 1960.
1961—Commerce upset a (9-0-1) Toccoa team in a game played at neutral Stephens County by a (19-6) score. Earlier in the year, the Hurricanes had easily beaten an injury riddled Commerce team (33-6). The Tigers finished the season with a record of (9-3-0).
1976—Commerce upset #1 ranked Sylvan at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta by a (22-8) score in the first game that a Tiger team had ever played on artificial turf. The Tigers later lost the state championship game to Turner Co. in the “Mud Bowl” (14-0) and finished the season with a (11-2-1) record.
1991—The eventual (6-5) Tigers upset Monticello (16-15) on a desperation last play of the game pass of 15 yards to HB Vernard Gillespie from QB Chuck Thompson as time expired.
1995—Commerce, on the week following a (21-7) loss to Jefferson, played its second consecutive game with the Dragons in the first playoff game of the season. Commerce upset the reptiles (22-18) highlighted by two long TD passes from QB Kevin Poe to split end Russ Gregg. Commerce ended with a (10-3-0) season record.
2000—Commerce upset Lincoln County twice. In the regular season game in Commerce, the Tigers won on a last play field goal (16-15) and scored all 16 points in the final quarter.
Later, in the semi-final game in the Georgia Dome, Commerce scored on two Monte’ Williams touchdown runs of 28 and 50 yards. Commerce ended this state championship season with a record of (13-2-0) climaxed by a final game (27-19) win over Buford.
The above examples are just a few of the fabulous upsets of opponents that the Commerce Tigers have produced over the years.
Cohen Cooke, a split end for the Tigers in 2007, became the most prolific pass receiver in Commerce football history in catching a total of 71 aerials on the year breaking by a landslide the previous record of 44 by Jason Waters in 1989.
During his three year career 2005-07, the “Cookie Monster” also broke the Commerce career pass receiving record of 89 by Michael Collins when he recorded a three year total of 98.
Cooke was not the fastest receiver that the Tigers have ever produced, but few could run a sharper and more precise pass route that Cohen Cooke.
Cooke had exceptional pass catching ability, as he rarely dropped any pass that touched his hands.
Bobby and Hal Lamb
Bobby and Hal Lamb were two of the finest football players to ever play for the Tigers.
Bobby was a captain on the 1980 and 1981 teams, and Hal was a captain for the Commerce football team in 1982.
Bobby played quarterback as a starter for three years leading the Tigers to a state championship during his senior season in 1981, as Commerce finished that season with a record of (13-1-1) following the defeat of Greene County by a (28-14) score in the state championship game at Tiger Stadium in Commerce.
He had a personal single game record of 226 yards passing in the 1980 game with Oconee County.
In 1981 he had a season yards passing total of 1553 yards which is a Commerce record, and his four-year career passing total is 4224 which is also the standard for a career with the Tigers.
He amassed 48 total TD passes during his four years at Commerce and had 25 touchdown completions in his 1981 year as a senior. He also had 17 games of over 100 yards passing during his career in Tigertown.
Bobby Lamb holds every major passing statistic at Commerce High School.
He was also an excellent wishbone quarterback, as he directed the option offense with the precision of a surgeon. During his Tiger career, he collected 5866 yards in total offense with 2182 coming in his senior season.
As the starting quarterback for three seasons, Commerce had a (29-7-1) won-loss record while Bobby Lamb was the field general.
He was an amazing and very gifted quarterback playing for his coaching father Ray Lamb.
He is presently the very successful head football coach at Furman University.
Hal, on the other hand was a quarterback in the Tiger offense for only one year in 1982 as he led the Tigers to an (8-3-0) record.
However, it was as a receiver in 1980 and 1981 that the younger Lamb proved his worth, as he amassed 1172 receiving yards in two years where he ranks second only behind Michael Collins. 728 of these yards came during the state championship season in 1981.
Hal had a career receiving total of 65 catches during his two year stint as a pass catcher for Commerce along with 12 TD receptions. The 65 receptions ranks him third on the all-time Tiger career receptions list.
He contributed 35 receptions during his senior season in 1981 along with 9 touchdown pass catches during the championship season.
He didn’t have the greatest speed nor was he very tall. However, he had tremendous hands and pass-catching ability and could run very precise routes in order to get open for brother Bobby’s accurate passing arm.
Not only were Bobby and Hal great football players, but they were great all-around athletes as well, as they performed excellently in basketball and tennis.
Hal once scored 52 points as a guard in a Tiger basketball game and also once threw a desperation shot during a basketball game the length of the floor that stripped the net to end a half on the hard court.
Hal now leads the ultra-successful football program at Class AA Calhoun High School where his teams have gone deep into the playoffs for a number of years. The last two seasons the Yellow Jackets have played for the state championship in 2008 and 2009.
Additionally, they were also disciplined and mannerly young men as well as superb students in the classroom.
Madison County 2002
Madison County brought its Class AAAA Red Raider football team over Highway 98 to Class A Commerce for the 43rd meeting, the Tigers 2nd longest series, between the football neighbors.
Wow!! This was a breathtaking battle that will be long remembered for “The Drive”.
Down (28-21) in the fourth quarter, Commerce marched 66 yards in 9 plays and made the successful two-point conversion for a heart-stopping (29-28) victory. At the 2:52 mark of the final stanza at the Tiger 34 yard line, Quarterback Josh Haynes threw a screen pass to tailback Dennis Wilder in the left flat. The junior maneuvered his way down the sideline in front of the Madison Co. bench for 34 yards to the Raider 32 where he was dragged down.
Six plays later, Commerce successfully converted a fourth and inches play when Haynes squirmed his way for a yard at the 10. Wilder then burst for eight yards to the two as the clock ticked down to 0:55, before Haynes darted over right tackle for two yards and the touchdown behind the fine blocking of Casha Daniels, Kenny Flint, Taylor Massey and Adam Cochran to put the Tigers in position to win at the 0:33 mark on the clock.
The stage was now set for the game-winning two-point conversion. Haynes set his charges and ran the option right. He pitched beautifully to Wilder who gathered in the pigskin and easily stepped into the end zone for the score. The Tigers had come flying down the field and had snatched victory away from a looming defeat in one of the great gut-checks in Tiger history, as they managed the clock beautifully to leap into a (29-28) lead.
However, the game was not over for the Raiders knocked out one first down at the Commerce 49 with a 17-yard pass from QB Michael Allen to halfback Richard Stowers with only nine seconds remaining. However, Allen’s last gasp desperation pass down near the goal line was picked off by cornerback Wilder who sealed the Tiger victory with his effort. Haynes, Wilder and Company shook a lot of hands following this 30th victory over one of their ancient rivals, as the team was mobbed with Tiger faithful.
Wilder collected 183 yards in 20 attempts and one touchdown for the evening, while Raider running back Richard Stowers was a one man wrecking crew against the Tigers especially in the first half (26 atts.-129 yds.), while carrying 40 times for 198 yards and 2 TD’s in the contest. These two young men put on a show that Barnum and Bailey would be proud of.
Stowers final score to put the Raiders out front (28-21) had come with 2:52 remaining in the game on a 3-yard run. The score came after Red Raider head coach Tom Hybl elected to take a 22-yard field goal by Scott Dills off the scoreboard after Commerce was flagged for roughing the kicker moments before. Hybl’s gamble had paid off, but the Red Raider defense was unable to stave off the Tigers’ late desperation and game-winning drive.
Initially, Commerce took the games’ opening kickoff and drove 77 yards in 11 plays to score. The drive was capped off when Haynes scampered in from seven yards out on the option keeper. Tommy Eason’s PAT was true at the 6:56 mark of the opening period for a (7-0) Commerce lead.
Madison County, primarily using their power running attack, rumbled back down the field into Tiger territory but then used some surprise passing trickery. Allen hit split end Tony Tittle over the middle and behind the Commerce secondary for the TD on a 31-yard beauty. Dills then tacked on the PAT for a (7-7) tie score.
The Red Raiders subsequently vaulted into the lead at the 8:24 mark of the second period when they methodically marched into the lead. Completely by way of the ground game and behind the power running of Stowers, Madison County drove for 80 yards and a TD in 14 plays with Stowers bulling over from the five. The successful kick gave the mounted red horsemen the lead at (14-7).
Two plays later, the game was tied once more when Wilder went on a 58-yard jaunt to pay dirt following an option pitch from QB Haynes, as the young tailback out ran the Raider secondary down the sideline in front of the Tiger bench with just 53 seconds having elapsed from the previous score. The PAT was kicked true by Eason for a (14-14) tie score.
However, here came Stowers and the Red Raider bull dozing crew with another long march to score, as this drive covered 60 yards in 12 plays and again entirely by way of the ground game to the Tiger seven. At this point Hybl’s forces pulled a surprise with 1:14 left in the half when Allen dropped back to throw and hit running back Tony Freeman with a screen pass in the right flat. Freeman crossed the goal line standing from seven yards out.
However, a key play occurred when Dill’s kick hit the right upright and bounced away leaving the Red Raiders with a (20-14) halftime lead.
The Tiger defense was finally able to stop the Raiders on their first possession of the second half when Tiger linebacker Nick Cox nailed Stowers with a hard tackle at the Commerce 23 on fourth and two.
The Commerce I-Bone then set sail on a long drive of its own, as the Tigers went 75 yards in 13 plays all by way of the infantry for not a pass was thrown. Wilder set up the score with a
23-yard gallop to the five. Haynes climaxed the march two plays later with a two-yard TD on an option keeper around the right side with 1:58 to go in the third period. Eason tacked on the successful PAT and the Tigers now had a one point lead at (21-20).
Then came these two teams’ fourth quarter dramatics noted earlier in the story, as the lead and the contest teetered back and forth in this heavyweight slugfest. This (29-28) “Rumble in the Jungle” was the greatest game ever played between the two schools in the 42 game history of the series.
Commerce went on to post a season record of (11-2-0) in the 2002 campaign.
Commerce in 2002 also defeated Franklin Co., Banks Co., Morgan Co., Lincoln Co.,
Athens Christian, Towns Co., Jefferson, Social Circle, Bowdon and Trion and lost
only to Athens Academy and Dooly County.
Partially compiled from The Commerce News and Athens Banner-Herald reports.
Roger Love, a Commerce athlete extraordinare, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga. from complications due to a heart attack.
He played football, basketball, and ran track for the Tigers for four seasons from 1960-63.
He was one of the finest, and most gifted athletes with God given talent to ever walk the halls of CHS. His athletic prowess is legendary in Commerce, Ga. especially to those who had the distinct pleasure of seeing him don the gold and black in whatever sport he was participating.
His exceptional speed in the 100 yard dash (10.2) was remarkable. He won many a high school race at the track meets in which he participated.
As a sophomore, he once cleared the six foot mark in the High Jump using the Western Roll technique when he stood only 5’10” tall. Because of his outstanding leaping ability, he also was great in the Broad Jump as it was called back in the 1960’s at which he later won the Region 4A first place medal with a leap of over 21 feet.
As a basketball player, it was his rebounding and leaping ability that caught everyone’s eye, as they watched him maneuver up and down the court.
However, it was in football that everyone stood aghast at what he could do on the gridiron.
In 1961 as a junior, he helped lead the Tigers to their first region title in upsetting an undefeated Toccoa team by a score of (19-6) in a region playoff game at Stephens County High School. Commerce ended up with a 9-3 season mark in 1961 after later losing in the semi-final game to eventual state champion Carrollton.
His bare-footed punting technique is legendary in Commerce football annals.
While standing near the end line of his own end zone and the Tigers in precarious field position during the region championship game with Toccoa in 1961, he booted a punt of about 60 yards to get Commerce out of severe field position while the game was still in doubt. It was one of his legendary rocket punts that soared high and long.
He had numerous punts of over 50 and 60 yards during his junior and senior seasons.
Roger Love had many long TD runs from scrimmage as well as long punt returns for touchdown for the Commerce Tigers. His longest TD run was an 88-yarder versus Jefferson in 1962. On this jaunt, he sped down the sidelines like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes and when he crossed the goal line, there was no one within 20 yards of him. It was spectacular and a common occurrence during his career.
He scored from 82 yards out against Monroe Area in 1962 and had a 75-yarder vs. South Hall in 1961 as well as many others. Defenses that saw the handoff to Roger Love on a dive play or on a wingback reverse had to have been put in disarray.
In Roger Love’s three year rushing career at Commerce, he had a total of 1741 yards and led the Tigers in points scored in 1961 with 102 and in 1962 with a total of 57.
Not only was his blazing speed evident when others watched him play the game of football, but his fierce toughness and competitiveness was also apparent to all. He ran over many an opponent as he carried the pigskin for Commerce, and numerous ones of these opposing players were much larger than him. On the halfback dive play, he also ran up the back of Tiger offensive linemen who had not performed very well on a block.
No one wanted to be hit with a block or tackled head on by “Goldie” (a blonde) as he was called. These were crushing blows. He hit with a ferocity that was rarely equaled by most in these parts of the state during his era.
There are numerous stories about Roger Love on the Commerce Tiger website at
www.commercetigers.com under the heading “Tiger Tales” — The Love Lick,
First Region Championship, 100 Yard Punt.
He served his country during the Viet Nam War with honor and distinction and was decorated for heroism when he helped save the life of some other soldiers during combat.
In adult life, Roger worked for the Commerce Telephone Company and was a loyal, dedicated and faithful employee there.
He and I, as well as many others, loved to talk about the Commerce football of today as well as bygone years especially those years in which he contributed to Tiger football lore. However, he rarely talked about his accomplishments but more importantly those of the team as well as his teammates.
But most of all, he was a great friend and a common man who loved and cared about other people. He always had a smile and positive as well as humorous remarks in our conversations. He will be sorely missed by the Commerce Tiger community, but most of all he will be greatly missed by his family especially his wife Sandra, son Mark and the grandchildren.
Roger Love was not only one of the greatest athletes in Commerce Tiger athletic history but also one of the most caring and humble men I have ever known. jp 1/29/10