2010 A&M-Commerce football season recap
All football seasons have their ups and downs. As one A&M-Commerce football player I talked to recently said, this year had a lot more downs than ups.
The Lions began this year as favorites to win the Lone Star Conference North Division, and for good reason. While A&M-Commerce lost several key defensive leaders, such as Alex Contreras and Willie Green, the Lions were returning key players at offensive lineman, quarterback and running back, along with all of their receiving leaders.
They also had one of their easiest schedules in recent memory. A&M-Commerce played most of their games against weaker North Division opponents. Earlier in the year, I predicted a winning season, even going as far to say that, with a little luck, the Lions could even get close to double-digit victories.
I looked pretty smart after the first game against Upper Iowa. Despite a scoreless first half, which was merely the beginning of offensive woes that would plague the Lions all season, A&M-Commerce came back to score 33 unanswered points. The offense was jump-started by freshman Kenzee Jackson's (49 receptions, 451 yards) kickoff return. Jackson would continue to impress for the rest of the season.
On the first defensive stand of the game, however, the Lions lost defensive star linebacker Cory Whitefield to a knee injury. His absence for most of the rest of the regular season was strongly felt, despite the tremendous play by sophomore standout Danny Mason (99 total tackles).
In their next game, the third annual Harvey Martin Classic played at the Cotton Bowl, A&M-Commerce got off to a quick start but proved ultimately helpless as Angelo State rode their passing game to a 34-10 victory. That was the beginning of a three-game dry stretch for the Lions, who were shut out by Texas A&M-Kingsville 21-0 and only scored 21 points against Eastern New Mexico's porous defense. Senior quarterback Adam Farkes (1,960 yards, 5 Tds, 16 Ints) struggled mightily, throwing for only one touchdown against four interceptions during that three game stretch.
In their fifth game against Southeastern Oklahoma State, the Lions began to look powerful again, scoring 19 straight points on the strength of junior running back Marcus Graham's (815 yards, 7 Tds) 110 yards. Despite Southeastern's comeback attempt, A&M-Commerce managed to hang on for their second victory of the season.
The Lions then lost three more games in a row to drop to 2-6 on the year, including a 31-point loss against Northeastern Oklahoma State University, a 34-31 squeaker at home versus Tarleton State in their first ever televised game, and a 24-10 defeat at the hands of Southwestern Oklahoma State.
In the next game against Central Oklahoma, sophomore running back London Hamilton (378 yards, 4 Tds) had his best game in an A&M-Commerce uniform in relief of the injured Graham. Hamilton's 90 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, paired with Farkes' two touchdown strikes, helped the Lions squeak by UCO 31-30. It was the last Lions victory of the season.
The next week against East Central, the Lions marched the ball down the field to tie the game 33-33 with 44 seconds left, only to let up a last-second field goal. The close loss was typical of the Lions season. In their final game of the year against Incarnate Word, A&M-Commerce lost by one point 17-16 to finish the season 3-8, second to last in the LSC North despite a 100-yard effort from Hamilton.
Despite the disappointing 2010 season, there were plenty of highlights and reasons to have high expectations for future Lions' teams. Jackson was awarded LSC North 1st team offense and sophomore linebacker Danny Mason won LSC North first team defense. Graham received LSC North second team offense.
The Lions will be returning Hamilton, who filled in admirably as starting running back, Jackson, Mason and second-leading receiver Jillian Hayes (439 yards, 3 Tds). On defense, the Lions have plenty of potential playmakers in freshman defensive linemen Tevin Moore (23 total tackles) and Jake Williams (43 total tackles, 3 sacks). Redshirt senior J.J. Harp, who transferred from Eastern New Mexico after last season and had to sit out a year for transferring within the conference, will provide veteran leadership in the quarterback position.
Head Coach Guy Morriss can't be pleased with his team's effort this season, but, as is often said, there's always next year.
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