Gridiron Tigers Among
Decades' Best in Class A
With just more than three weeks before
the first game of the season, Commerce coach Steve Savage said
hisTigers still have "a long ways to go."
"We're trying to learn how to practice," Savage said.
"A lot of these guys aren't used to it. Once we settle into
some kind of rhythm, our team will start to get better."
The return of hot and humid weather has been another obstacle
for the team this week, Savage said. "We're doing all right,
but it's hot as blue blazes," Savage said. "It's 20
degrees warmer than it was last week."
THE DECADE THAT WAS
Now that the 1990s are over, it's time to look at the aughts -
'00s that is. But before we go too far into the present and future,
it makes some sense to regard the recent past.
Several teams made significant marks in the 1990s in Class A.
Commerce High School was among the best of the class.
With a .714 winning percentage, the Tigers were easily one of
the top 10 teams for the decade. Last year's 13-1 mark and the
12-1 season of 1997 were the highlights of the '90s for Commerce.
The team amassed an 85-34 record from 1990-99.
They reached the semifinals in the first and final years of the
'90s, only to lose to Lincoln County both times.
But that seems fitting. The Red Devils posted the best record
in Class A by 12 wins. Lincoln County closed out 1999 with a
loss in the Class A title game. That defeat lowered its staggering
record to 124-14. Lincoln County won fewer than 10 games in a
season only twice. Its worst record was an 8-3-1 mark in 1994.
The decade saw the Red Devils claim three Class A titles, each
with perfect 15-0 marks. For the decade, the Red Devils averaged
3.8 playoff games per year.
Macon County finished a close second, however. The Bulldogs were
110-20 with one championship. Macon County closed out the decade
in Class AA with a two-year record of 11-11. Looking solely at
their Class A records, Macon County finished with a mark of 99-9
for a .916 winning percentage.
Bowdon picked up a Class A title in 1992 by defeating Macon County.
The Red Devils finsihed the '90s with a 101-24 record.
Charlton County waited until 1999 to win their state title, but
they did not wait to start winning games. The Indians, who move
up to Class AA with realignment, closed out their 10-year Class
A tenure of the '90s with a 101 -28 mark for a .783 winning percentage.
Darlington had a perfect season in 1998 to claim the Class A
title. The Tigers split time between Class A and AA during the
decade for a combined 80-36 record.
Looking just at Darlington's Class A records, it had a mark of
56-17-1 for a .767 winning percentage.
Buford was one of the other notables for the decade with a mark
of 77-36 for a .681 winning percentage.
Clinch County won a title in 1991. Complete records for Clinch
County were not available at press time. From 1993-99, Clinch
had a record of 53-25
Manchester split time throughout the '90s between Class A and
AA. They won their Class A state title in 1997. During their
four years in Class A, the Blue Devils were 51-5, winning 91.1
percent of their games.
Manchester's total record for the decade was not available at
press time. Manchester won the 1997 Class A title, yielding 13
points in its five playoff games that year.
Commerce's best decade record came in the 1970s with a mark of
98-16-6 for an .859 winning percentage.
The team also posted an impressive mark in the 1980s with a record
of 88-30-1 for a .746 winning percentage, claiming the 1981 Class
three sessions per day during camp week
While the season is still three weeks away, the Banks County
High School football team is working hard to be ready for Jackson
County Sept. 1, coach Rance Gillespie said.
"We've got some areas that we've got to get better,"
Gillespie said. "But there's a lot that we're excited about.
They're not holding back."
Gillespie said that the tone in practice was being set strongly
by the upperclassmen.
"We've had good senior leadership," Gillespie said.
"They've set a great example for the rest of the team. We've
just got 35 kids that love to play football."
Gillespie is also pleased with the way the underclassmen have
"Our underclassmen are falling in to place, giving 100 percent,"
Gillespie said. "We're looking for the younger players to
be able to give us a good look. They're giving us a great opportunity
to get better."
During this week of camp, which sees the Leopards out for three
sessions each day, preparing mind and body are equally important,
"Camp is more than just a chance to go out three times a
day and work on fundamentals," Gillespie said. "There's
an element of mental toughness to coming out. It's an opportunity
to check your team's character.
"We've been real pleased with the character of our team.
It's a challenge to come out three times a day like we do."
The Leopards will conclude this week of camp Friday with picture
day at 4:30 p.m.
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
Volley Cats to kick off 2000 fall sports
A year after a successful season that
saw them qualify for the state sectional tournament, Jackson
County's volleyball team has a quite a few big shoes to fill.
Gone from the 1999 team are five seniors, all of whom saw extensive
playing time. Team captain Kasey Hill, spirit leader Megan Riley,
Caroline Williams and Susan Yang all were lost to graduation.
But the team's two biggest losses will be the hardest to make
Monic Stewart inked a volleyball deal with West Georgia after
the 1999 season. Stewart's powerful net game will be hard to
As if that weren't enough, head coach Michelle Gentry accepted
a position at area rival Madison County. Coach Robin Potter has
stepped in to assume Gentry's position on the sideline. Helping
Potter with the transition will be JV and assistant varsity coach
"It's going to be a rebuilding year, obviously," Potter
said during practice this week. "But I think we're going
to be competitive. We've got Alex [Rudio], Julie [Griffith] and
Stacey [Finch] coming back, and we've got several young players."
Potter indicated that a number of sophomores will also be expected
to step up to the varsity level. Another new face is senior Jamie
Colston, a transfer from Illinois.
The GHSA realignment will benefit the Volley Cats in more than
one way. Last year, the team had to beat a strong Oconee County
team to make the sectional. The Lady Warriors will compete in
AAAA this year. In 1999, classes A, AA and AAA were grouped together
for state qualifying. This year, class AAA will be alone, meaning
Athens Academy, another strong team, will not be an obstacle.
"There's only three teams in our area, and two of those
will move on to the state sectional," Potter said. Jackson
County will host both their area (Oct. 5, and 7) and sectional
(Oct. 14) tournaments, giving the team a home-court advantage
over the competition.
Check out the Volley Cats' 2000 schedule on Page 2B.
Tony Bennett and
Love in victory lane
Tony Bennett's dream season continued
Saturday night at Lanier National Speedway as he took the lead
with eight laps to go in the 50-lap Coca-Cola Pro Late Model
feature enroute to his seventh win of the season.
Bennett qualified seventh behind RE/MAX pole sitter Shane Chastain,
who turned a lap in 13.917 seconds. After the green flag waved
for the feature, Bennett wasted little time breaking into the
top five, as he surfaced to fourth on the fifth lap.
Bennett worked around Jamie Stephens' Chevrolet on lap 20 and
seemed primed to run down leader Chastain. But the pole-sitter's
Chevrolet consistently held a three car-length lead for the next
15 laps until struggling to lap the Chevrolet of Tom Salley.
That was just the break Bennett needed to narrow the margin,
and seven laps later his Pontiac blasted into the race lead.
A late caution on lap 44 gave the field a chance to line up on
Bennett's bumper, but it proved fruitless as Bennett pulled away
on the restart and led by five car lengths over Chastain at the
"I had just about given up on catching Shane until he had
trouble with that lapped car," commented Bennett in victory
lane. "I'm just picking up where Jimmy Garmon left off in
the Southern All Star Race here last Saturday," Bennett
said when asked how he is beating the competition in the corners.
"He (Garmon) never missed a beat."
Rounding out the top five were Jamie Stephens, Stacy Long and
Tom Hardy in the Cornett Thunder Ford.
Twenty-two trucks took to the track Saturday night as preparation
continues for the PARTS Pro Truck race to be held at Lanier August
19th. Many drivers used the 30-lap event as a test session. PARTS
Pro regular David Elliott grabbed the early lead from pole sitter
George Williams Jr.
Elliott then surrended the lead to Maysville's Joey Love on lap
17. Love held on by one truck-length to claim the win.
"I didn't know if I could outrun him (Elliott)," Love
said in victory lane. "He was squirrelly in the corners,
and I wasn't." Williams could only sit back in third and
watch, as he never mounted a serious charge to take the lead.
Rodney Benefield took fourth, followed by Coon Ayers.
Georgia all-star team
finishes fourth in Dixie World Series
The Georgia Dixie Majors All Star team,
which included four players from Madison County High School,
recently competed in the Dixie World Series in Euless, Texas,
July 28 through Aug. 3. With 12 teams represented at the World
Series, Georgia made a strong performance by finishing fourth.
The team began play on Saturday, July 29, by defeating Florida
10-3. On Sunday, the Georgia team also defeated North Carolina
9-2. Monday night, Georgia was up against a strong Mississippi
team. Georgia was losing 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With base hits by the first three batters, Chad Youngblood, Michael
Koppin and Steve Cogswell, they were able to tie the score.
A solo home run by Matt Crump in the bottom of the eighth inning
gave the Georgia team the win over Mississippi.
On Tuesday, with Georgia and Louisiana both being undefeated,
it came down to the last inning. Louisiana hit a home run late
in the game to give Louisiana a 6-5 victory over Georgia. Wednesday,
the Georgia team squared up against a strong Texas team, losing
5-4 to eliminate them from the tournament.
During their stay in Texas, ,the team attended a banquet on the
morning of July 28 and opening ceremonies that Friday night,
hosted by the city of Euless, Texas. Sunday night the team was
treated to a Texas Rangers game in Arlington Stadium.