of kids who enjoy working hard, you want to go watch them
Prickett’s love for keeping Commerce stats led to a spot
perform and Commerce through the years has a great deal
of tradition. I like being part of a wonderful tradition that we
have in Commerce.”
On game days, Prickett still records Commerce stats with
paper and pencil, alongside a three-person crew that assists
him with additional details he may not be able to get to, such
as who made the tackle.
with the Georgia High School Football Historians Association,
which keeps season records and coaching information for
every program in the state.
While this will be Prickett’s 45th season keeping stats at
Commerce, it will also be his last. It’s been a long ride with
the Tigers, one that will be hard to let go. But at age 71, he
can no longer weather the cold during late-season games,
considering many Class A programs don’t have press box
space for statisticians.
He’ll still go to as many games as he can once the 2017
season starts but admitted there may be times where he is
forced to either listen to a Commerce game on the radio or
watch a live stream of it online. Since 1968, Prickett has only
missed 10 Commerce football games.
Prickett was a Commerce football fan from birth, thanks
to his father’s love for the school. Prickett graduated from
Commerce in 1963 and played on the golf team. He went on
to teach at Commerce Middle School for 31 years. He was
the school’s golf coach for 18 years and spent time rotating
between the Commerce boys and girls junior varsity and
eighth-grade teams as a coach over a 29-year span.
During Prickett’s 45 years as Commerce’s statistician, he’s
worked for only four head coaches – Lamb, Steve Savage,
Marvin Justice and Michael Brown. Dating back to 1909,
Commerce holds a 584-296-22 overall record, meaning that
there have plenty of wins for Prickett to be a part of dating
back to when he started keeping stats in the early 1970s.
“I’ve been fortunate to work for four fabulous guys, the right
coaches, and got to be a part of a great tradition,” Prickett
said, before quipping, “If my school had been one that went
1-9 or 2-8 every year I might not have been as enthusiastic.”
IT ALL STARTED WITH A QUESTION. WHEN DID COM- merce begin playing football? It was something that intrigued Jeff Prickett the moment he became Com- merce’s statistician in 1972. At the time, the local
Commerce News was dealing with a transition in its sports
department, which concerned Prickett since potential rose
for games to go unrecorded without a reporter on site.
So Prickett asked former Commerce head coach Ray Lamb
if he could keep stats. Prickett is now entering his 45th
season doing so.
“Some people like to go fishing. Some people love to play
golf,” Prickett said. “My passion is keeping the records of
what kids at Commerce High School do on the football field.”
Prickett said there were some season statistics compiled
from 1958-71. But before 1958, there weren’t any records
or statistics. Prickett spent countless hours at the local
Commerce library going through various microfilm slides of
newspapers – the old-fashioned way to conduct research
– to look up past Commerce football games. He went to the
UGA library to look up additional information as well.
This research, the bulk of it beginning in 1979, led to
the annual Commerce Football Yearbook, which was first
published in 1981. The first book was only 25 pages long.
The 36th, which Prickett picked up at the Athens FedEx
Office location in early June, is 355 pages.
Every Commerce record imaginable is in there – longest
pass, longest run, most rushing yards in a single season,
most passing yards in a career, and so forth. Prickett also
recalls previous moments in what he calls flashback stories,
which look back at some of the biggest moments in Commerce football history.
Before the Commerce-Jefferson rivalry came to a halt, the
two schools played 70 times. Prickett has written recaps of
each one of those games. Of the 273 total flashback stories,
Prickett’s written biographical features on former players and
has brought dramatic victories from the past back to life.
“A lot of schools are basketball schools. But Commerce is
a football school,” Prickett said. “When you got a community
WITH SCHOOL BUDGETS
being what they are, Mike
Wade is the go-to guy to
secure the necessary funding to make the Parkview
football program run.
Wade has resided near
Lilburn for his entire life.
A sense of being tied to the
community’s football program team helps drive Wade
to ensure he helps facilitate
the needed fundraising.
“A lot of these sponsors we
get are customers of mine,”
Wade said. “I see them on a
regular basis. Then I talk to
them about the community
and football, Parkview and I
talk to them about helping us
out. You just got to be interactive in the community. That’s
what I try to do. I’m going
to be 61 in September. I’ve
been five miles of this school
my entire life. I know a lot of
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GEORGIA
High school football isn’t just for players, parents and
coaches. Within every community in Georgia you will
find a collection of residents who turn their collective
attention each Friday night in the fall to their respective
high school football team’s game under the bright lights.
Some cheer, others do more. Here are seven people who
wouldn’t be found anywhere other than in a Georgia high
school stadium each Friday night.
BY JASON BUTT