Tiger Football Practice
Commerce kicked off the 2000 season with
its first week of high school football practice this Monday.
About 43 players have begun the week.
Commerce coach Steve Savage said the first week of practice is
a time to begin working in several facets of the game.
"We'll put in some of our kicking game," Savage said.
"We'll work some on our passing game. The biggest thing
though is to get everyone acclamated to the heat. They've got
to get used to what it's like out here."
Full pads will be added to the practice regiment, starting Monday.
Commerce will host a jamboree Aug. 25 with Athens Academy and
The Tigers will open the 2000 football season Sept. 1 with a
game against Franklin County in Carnesville. The Tigers will
open their home schedule Sept. 8 with Forsyth Central.
Leopards open 2000 with
For a first day's practice, ending with
a bang may have seemed too much to ask for. But Banks County
High School's football team combined its play with the weather
to end its first day with a lightning bolt.
While football teams around the state prepared for hot and humid
weather, the Banks County High School Leopards began their 2000
football season under cool and overcast skies.
What the weather lacked, the Leopards made up for by running
into a heated practice schedule.
Complete with contact against padded dummies, the Leopards spent
time in individual and team drills.
As the team's began their offensive groups, a light shower quickly
turned to torentual downpour, which drenched everything but their
After a complete session of plays, Banks County coach Rance Gillespie
called for the last formation of practice. As it was completed,
the first lightning of the storm cracked across the sky.
Prepared to exit, the players made a faster jog to cover.
HEAT WILL RETURN
While the cool first days of the practice season were atypical
for late July, Gillespie and the staff are ready to make sure
that summer heat does not become a danger to the players.
"You've got to have a lot of concern for the heat,"
Gillespie said. "We're going to keep a close eye on them
and make sure and give all the necessary water breaks they need."
Gillespie added that players can help fight adverse effects of
the heat when they are at home.
"The most important thing is for the kids to hydrate themselves
before and after they get to us," Gillespie said.
Getting back into the pace for regular season practice is the
key for Banks County, Gillespie said.
"We've got make sure we're back on the same page from what
we did during spring practice," Gillespie said. "We'll
spend some time conditioning and getting them acclamated to things
before we get into pads. That's what this week is for."
The Leopards will add shoulder pads next week. Gillespie said
the team will switch between full pads and practice in shoulder
pads and shorts.
Banks County will revisit its jamboree opponents of 1999 this
year on Aug. 25. After hosting Fannin County and Dawson County
last year, the Leopards will travel to Blue Ridge for the 2000
Banks County will open its season Sept. 1 at Jackson County.
The two teams have kicked off each of the past two seasons.
Last year, Banks County edged the Panthers 9-8 in overtime in
Gillespie's first game as coach of the Leopards.
Aug 25 Jamboree (at Fannin)
Sept. 1 Jackson Co.
Sept. 8 at Jefferson
Sept. 15 Open
Sept. 22 at Dawson Co.*
Sept. 29 East Hall*
Oct. 6 *at GAC
Oct. 13 Apalachee*
Oct. 20 at Lumpkin Co.*
Oct. 27 Union Co.*
Nov. 3 Rabun County*
Nov. 10 White Co.*
*Region 8-AA Opponent
It's football time again!
Timing is the name of the game during
summer football camps around the area. GHSA member football teams
were allowed to begin summer practice this week without pads.
With the mercury running high recently, area coaches have scheduled
their camps in the early morning hours, before the oppressive
heat sets in.
Lower temperatures at the beginning of the week were a welcome
sight, though Jefferson head coach Bob Gurley indicated the milder
weather may set his squad back a few days. With school starting
in less than two weeks, that's a few days the Dragons don't have.
"What we do next week depends a lot on the weather the rest
of this week," Gurley remarked. "If it doesn't get
that hot this week, we may have to wait a day or two next week
before we go to full pads."
"At least we don't have to play in the heat," responded
a thankful assistant coach Jeff McCord.
With Jefferson teachers returning to classrooms Monday, the Dragons
will be forced to wait until 4 p.m. to begin practicing.
At Jackson County, head coach Greg Lowe and his Panthers began
Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Jackson County's sessions this week
are slated to last only two hours.
Next week, when full pads are allowed, Panthers will wipe the
sleep from their eyes early in order to make practice at 7:30
a.m. The six-hour practices will be divided into three sessions,
with a number of breaks along the way. Panther freshmen will
begin their practice sessions August 9.
Several Jackson County coaches have shuffled positions since
the team last saw action. Former assistant Clay Harris accepted
a job with Monroe Area, and Al Darby will drop his varsity football
duties to take over as head coach of the West Jackson team.
To fill the empty slots, Lowe has moved Rusty Hendricks and Shawn
Lindsay into positions as varsity assistants. Jimmy Williams
is also back to coach the 9th-grade team.
of a second chance
The morning of September 7, 1999, began as any other for Jackson
County soccer star Jeremy Friedman.
"We were going to school, and it was just like a regular
morning. I was sitting back in the truck, just dozing off; I
Friedman and pal Andrew Cowart were on their way from Hoschton
to Jackson County Comprehensive High School on the Tuesday morning
after Labor Day. As the pair traveled on Highway 124, Cowart
apparently lost control of the truck and veered into the opposing
lane in front of an oncoming Jackson County school bus.
"I didn't really think anything of it," Friedman said.
"He went over into the other lane, and I figured he was
gonna just pull off to the left on the other side of the road
and into the grass, but he didn't."
Instead, Cowart pulled the wheel to the right. The move came
just in time for Friedman, but too late for Cowart, who lost
his life in the collision that resulted.
"He tried to jerk it back, so that I wouldn't get hit,"
Friedman said. "He pretty much saved my life."
Friedman was alive, but in grave danger. He'd suffered serious
internal injuries in the accident. Doctors later discovered that
his spleen had ruptured in four places. Additional injuries included
one broken and several severely bruised ribs, a broken thumb,
a closed head injury and a number of minor cuts and abrasions.
"The doctor was clearly amazed that he survived," mother
Beth Friedman recalled. "Whatever doctors we've seen in
the course of this have looked at him and can't believe that
he survived. If you look back and you see what he went through
and see where he is now, God's blessed him. It's really a miracle."
Dad Harvey Friedman, the family comic, offered a more simple
"I think his recovery has a lot to do with the water here
in Jackson County."
On the day he was released, a number of his Brookwood Soccer
Association teammates showed up at the Friedmans' to welcome
"The day I got out of the hospital they came to visit me.
They set up a goal right outside my house, and they let me shoot
one shot. I had 24 staples in my stomach and I could barely move,
but still I shot it somehow."
"We didn't know if he'd ever play again," Beth said
as a pair of huge dogs barked their way around the family home
in the Deer Farms subdivision. "His coach came to the hospital
the second day and looked at him, and he was just mortified.
We didn't know whether he'd be able to play. We were just so
surprised and so happy when the doctor finally told us that he
would heal completely."
Even after his amazingly quick healing process, Friedman was
still a far cry from his previous form on the soccer field. He'd
already missed the first soccer season with the BSA, which began
just days after the accident. The spring high school season was
within reach, but Friedman's recovery plans were much more short-term.
"Jeremy said right away after the accident, 'Mom, my goal
is Cocoa Beach at Christmas'," Beth remembered. "And
he made it."
"I had to do so much home training," Jeremy said. "I
had to run a lot, and I juggled the ball all day. My coach and
I spent a lot of time together, training."
That coach is none other than Brookwood High School and USA Cup
coach Mike Nova, who was named Georgia's soccer coach of the
year in 1997. Nova also serves as head coach of the Brookwood
Soccer Association's 19-and-under Select team, for which Friedman
plays when he's not on the field for the Jackson County Panthers.
During the Cocoa Beach tournament, Friedman made enough of an
impression on Nova to earn a spot on the USA Cup team. During
last week's USA Cup competition in Minneapolis, Friedman was
asked to join the 2001 team as well.
In a field of more than 60 teams from around the globe, the Brookwood
team advanced as far as the tournament quarterfinals before being
eliminated by eventual champion Ireland, 2-0. The game was scoreless
at the half, but a second-half penalty shot got the ball rolling
for the Irish team.
"It was upsetting," Friedman said of the loss, "but
they went on to win the tournament, and we fared really well
against them." Though he was a forward for the Panthers
during the 2000 season, Friedman played left defensive halfback
for the USA Cup squad.
One of the highlights of the trip for Friedman was spending time
with Josh Wolf, Parkview High School graduate and star player
for the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.
"He's a great guy," the young athlete beamed, "and
he's an excellent player. I got to meet him and talk with him.
For Beth Friedman, the cool part was seeing her son come home.
"To see him get off that plane in his soccer stuff, compared
to where he was in the accident, it was really a good feeling."
As the summer begins to wind down, Jeremy is confronted with
the usual decisions facing high school juniors. Within the next
two years, he must decide where to attend college, hopefully
somewhere his soccer talents can be showcased for a possible
professional career. But after having played in such glamorous
cities as Venice, Italy and Munich, Germany, Friedman says he'd
like to stay close to home. Georgia colleges Berry, Emmanuel
and North Georgia are all on his short list.
"I've still got two years left, but I'm looking." In
the meantime, Jeremy will continue to work as a licensed youth
referee and assist friends who instruct young players at the
Lilburn Soccer Academy, in addition to his BSA and JCCHS commitments.
And, of course, there's always homework.
Also nestled into Friedman's schedule are frequent visits to
the Cowart home, less than a mile from his own. He says spending
time with Andrew's mother has helped them both deal with the
"I walk in over there just like it's my house," he
"When Andrew was around,' said Beth, "it was 'I'm going
to Andrew's, I'm going to Andrew's.' He was at Andrew's all summer
long last year. Andrew's mom wanted it to remain that way after
"I was going to teach him how to play soccer," Jeremy
recalled. "He wanted to play, just for the heck of it, just
Almost a year after losing his best friend, Friedman shows little
reluctance to recall his harrowing accident, save a slight but
obvious stiffening at the effort.
"It took more than 40 stitches to put him back together,"
Beth said, "but nothing was greater than the impact of losing
Andrew. After the physical hurt went away, the emotional hurt
came, and that's been long-lasting. But he's sorting through
As he continues to sort through the past, Jeremy Friedman says
his life is more focused today than it was a year ago.
"My attitude toward life is a lot different. I treat life
a lot more wisely. It's a lot more special to me. I'm living
for Andrew now. It's for him."
Amateur belongs to Hybl
After piling up a trophy case worth of
wins during his junior golf days, Madison County's Ryan Hybl
has now made a splash in the amateur ranks.
Hybl, a former number one ranked junior golfer, picked up his
first amateur tournament win Saturday at the Atlanta Athletic
Club in the Southern Amateur Tournament, claiming a two-stroke
victory in one of the biggest amateur events with a 11-under-par,
four day total of 277.
"It was awesome," said Hybl of the win. "I had
a great week and played solid."
Hybl didn't have a hard time figuring out the difficult course,
which is set to host the PGA Championship next year, as he hit
66 out of 72 greens in the event and also fired a six-under par
66 on Friday to give him a four shot lead heading into the final
"I hit the ball really well, better than I had been hitting
it," he said. "It might have been my best ball-striking
tournament of my life."
Hybl's victory in the event, which featured several of nations
top ranked amateurs, helped to add some luster to what has become
a fast start in his step up to amateur competition. The former
Raider golfer and 1998 American Junior Golf Association Player
of the Year has already nabbed four top 10 finishes in only seven
Hybl, a University of Georgia golf signee, started his amateur
career in March with a third-place finish in the Azalea classic
and followed that with a string of impressive performances this
summer, finishing eighth in the Sunne Hanna Amateur and fifth
in the Southeastern Amateur. He also had a 25th place finish
in the Northeastern Amateur, a 26th place finish at the Dogwood
Amateur and was qualifier in the U.S. Public Links and lost in
the second round of the match-play event.
Hybl will be competing in the Western Amateur in Michigan in
"I've played pretty well this summer," he said. "It's
given me a good start to my amateur career."
The competition won't get any easier for Hybl as he is set to
begin his collegiate career this fall as a member of the Georgia
golf team. He will play in his first event when the Bulldog team
competes in The Preview held at Duke University in early September,
a tournament that features the top 15 teams in the preseason
poll. Georgia figures to be ranked either number one or two.
"College golf is going to be a good experience," Hybl
said. "It's going to be tough though because I'll be playing
against some of the best college players in the world, really."