COMMERCE — After watching Commerce improve three games in the win column in 2019, Tiger football coach John McSheffery is trying to build on his team’s success.

  McSheffery, who served as defensive coordinator the past three seasons under head football coach Cody Farrell, is now the Tigers’ new head coach after Farrell left to become the athletic director in Hallsville, his hometown. Farrell is a 1997 graduate of Hallsville High School and previously coached there as an assistant coach.

  “What I told the kids is Cody Farrell did an amazing job,” said McSheffery. “He had the program going in the right direction. We want to just build on top of that. We were doing thing the right way.”

  The Tigers, who went 4-7 last season and made the playoffs, took their first steps of the 2020 season with their first practice on Monday morning at the Tigers’ practice field. Commerce, like other 4A, 3A, 2A and A teams in the University Interscholastic League was allowed to start practice on Monday. The Tigers’ season opener is scheduled for Aug. 28 in Commerce against Edgewood.

  The Greenville Lions and Royse City Bulldogs and other 6A and 5A teams in the UIL aren’t allowed to start practice until Sept. 7, with the season openers slated on or after Sept. 24.

  The Greenville Christian Eagles and other teams in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools don’t start practicing until Sept. 7, with their season openers allowed to start on or after  Sept. 24.

  McSheffery said the Tigers’ first practice “was great.”

  “We had good energy,” he said.

  McSheffery said the Tigers have good “carryover” from last season.

  The team has a special slogan to follow as the Tigers practice: DEW. The D stands for discipline, the e for effort and the w for work.

  The Tigers, as all football teams in America will have to do, took extra precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic. They wear masks when not actively working out and drank from their own water bottles.

  McSheffery and Commerce athletic trainer Amanda Herron visited with the younger players at the end of Monday’s workout, pointing out the importance of the student-athletes wearing masks when they are out and about to protect their teammates.

  “We have great kids,” said McSheffery. “I love our kids. I love our community.”

  The Tigers’ only scrimmage is scheduled for Aug. 20 at Paul Pewitt in Omaha, Texas.

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