Area Sports...

 May 24, 2000


Spring football session ends this week
BY DREW BRANTLEY
The weather is beginning to feel more like August, and the progress of the Commerce football team seems to be resemble the early fall practice.
Commerce coach Steve Savage said his team has been productive in the first week of spring practice.
"It's been going all right," Savage said. "We're getting done what we thought we would. We've been pleased with how hard the kids have worked."
Along with the varsity sessions, several eighth graders are getting work in junior varsity practice.
"We've got some rising ninth graders down there," Savage said. "We're just trying to take a look-see at them and see what they can do."
FAMILIAR NEW FACES
Helping the Tigers get ready for next fall's season are two new assistants with old roots to Commerce.
Terry Canup and At Stephenson joined the coaching staff this spring.
"We've got a good staff," Savage said. "Terry Canup and At Stephenson are both good additions. They're both Commerce boys, and they understand how Commerce things are done."
Stephenson played his last year of football for Commerce in 1966.
Canup finished his Tiger playing days in 1978, though he continued his career in college.
Canup played football at West Georgia College. He was a member of the Braves when they claimed the NCAA Division III national championship in 1982.
FOOTBALL 2000
The change to five classifications kept Commerce in Region 8-A. However, only four schools compete in football from the region. That left Commerce three region games and seven games to pick up.
Finding seven games to fill the schedule allowed Commerce to pick up several teams that are not new to a Tiger schedule.
Commerce will open the football year 2000 at Franklin County Sept. 1.
The Tigers will play their first home game Sept. 8 against Forsyth Central.


Wilhelm wins Junior Dragster bracket
Banks County's Hank Wilhelm came out on top in the 13-17-year-old Junior Dragster competition at Atlanta Dragway this Friday.
Wilhelm, 16, downed Darrell Moore in the finals. While Wilhelm turned in a 9.60 on a 9.53 dial-in, Moore went under his dial-in for a foul in the finals.
Alton Clements III took first in the younger Junior Dragster division.
Jefferson's Greg Winn was true to his name, claiming first in Motorcycle action.
Chris Phillips took first in the Pro/Super Pro division. Wanda Glover was first in Sportsman.
Scott Preves came out on top in Trophy Street.
Snap-On Tools sponsored free events for their customers Saturday night.
Nearly 300 racers vied for a chance to win the Snap-On Tools box, which went to each event's winner. Runners-up won an impact wrench.
J.R. Armour took first in the Pro/Super Pro.
Mike Mann won Sportsman. James Hickman won the Trophy Street bracket.
Jay Rhyne took first Saturday after bowing out in the semifinals Friday.



JCPRD to improve safety at complex
BY TIM THOMAS
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department will install extra fencing at its Lamar Murphy Memorial Park baseball complex within the next few weeks. The action comes in the wake of a serious injury suffered by a fan recently during a busy day at the park.
Patsy Wallace, Jefferson, was watching a 7/8 boys' baseball game on field four, waiting for her son's game to begin. As she sat in the third-base stands, a line drive foul ball from field three struck Wallace just behind her right temple.
Wallace lost conciousness after the blow, and was in and out for several minutes before EMTs arrived. She was transported to a hospital in Athens, where she was diagnosed with a severe concussion.
"I had no warning," Wallace said. "I heard no one yell. I know enough to watch the game in front of me, but the ball came from behind. The thing that upsets me, though, is that I've had people tell me I'm not the first one, that it happens quite often."
According to department director John Hoos, Wallace' injury is the first of its kind during his tenure.
"This is the first one I've seen in the three years I've been here," Hoos said. "If there have been others, no one has informed me."
Hoos said that field three ­ the one where the new fencing will be installed ­ has presented the greatest threat of injury to spectators, since baseball games for older leagues are played exclusively on that field.
"That's where all the high-velocity balls come from."
Hoos said he expects manufacturing to take up to two weeks, and the fencing will be installed as soon as it is available. He also noted that one feature in particular has made the park much safer than some of its counterparts.
"One good thing they did here was the unusually large backstops," Hoos said during a telephone interview last week. "They are larger and wider than at most parks, and they catch a lot of fly balls."
Hoos also stated that signs posted at the park notify patrons to watch for foul balls, and that the new fencing should greatly reduce the chances of another serious accident.
"You can never foresee when freak accidents happen," Hoos said, "but we want to take preventive measures to insure that an accident of this nature doesn't happen again."


Gresham signs with Hiawassee College
Jackson County senior basketball standout Rodrick Gresham signed a basketball scholarship with Hiawassee College last week.
The senior Panther finished his prep career as the all-time leading rebounder in the history of Panther basketball, and the second-leading scorer. Gresham tallied over 1,000 points and 700 rebounds during his time at JCCHS.
Gresham was also named to the region 8-AAA first team, and the class AAA state honorable mention team.
Panther head coach Ron Garren expressed enthusiasm concerning Gresham's future prospects.
"Rodrick has the size and skills to move on to a Division I school after two years. The sky is the limit, as far as his ability is concerned. He just needs to go up there and work hard in the classroom and on the court in order to meet his goals."
"Rodrick is the main reason why our program has achieved some respectability in recent years," Garren continued. "He's been very successful here, and we wish him well."


Non-region football schedule set at MCHS
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Months back, Tom Hybl had a non-region schedule set for Madison County. Then House Speaker Tom Murphy stepped in, strong-arming a reclassification of Georgia's high schools that left football coaches across the state scrambling to arrange new schedules.
The change put Hybl's non-region schedule in the dump, leaving the third-year coach little time to put together another collection of foes. The non-region idea appeared somewhat in jeopardy, but Hybl remained committed to scheduling non-region opponents in hopes of improving Madison County's competitiveness on the football field by lining his team up against weaker opponents.
The new schedule includes five home and five away games, including two games - one home and one away - against Union Grove in the south Atlanta area. Also scheduled is a season-finale against Athens Christian, a private school just outside of Madison County on Hwy. 29. Under a non-region scheduled, Madison County cannot qualify for any postseason competition.
Here is Madison County's 2000 football schedule:
·Aug. 25 - South Forsyth, away, 8 p.m.
·Sept. 1 - Apalachee, home, 8 p.m.
·Sept. 8 - Jackson County, away, 8 p.m.
·Sept. 15 - North Hall, home, 8 p.m.
·Sept. 22 - Jefferson, home, 8 p.m.
·Sept. 29 - Warren County, away, 8 p.m.
·Oct. 6 - Union Grove, away, 7:30 p.m.
·Oct. 13 - open.
·Oct. 20 - Weslyan, home (homecoming), 8 p.m.
·Oct. 27 - Union Grove, home (senior night), 8 p.m.
·Nov. 3 - Athens Christian, away, 8 p.m.

SCRIMMAGE SET
A Madison County intra-squad game is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the high school. The game will conclude the Raiders' two-week spring practices.

SPRING OUTLOOK
Hybl said his football team is very inexperienced, with only five seniors returning from last year's 2-8 squad.
The coach said his team has worked the past couple of weeks on fundamentals.
"We have 15 kids who didn't play last year," he said. "...We're doing what we can, working hard to get better fundamentally as football players."

SUMMER ACTION
The Madison County football team will begin hitting the weight room on June 5, with summer practice scheduled to start July 24.


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