The Jackson Herald
August 16, 2000
The expert's (ha!) keys
to a successful season
The most humbling thing about being a
sports reporter is the fact that everyone expects you to be an
expert. Actually, that's not the humbling part, it's when you
say something that proves you're not an expert that is humbling.
I for one have known that feeling on more than one occasion during
the past year.
That said, I thought I'd wade right out into the surf and prove
my ignorance to everyone early in the season by listing what
I believe to be the keys to success for some of our local fall
sports teams this year.
Nowhere does this reporter's ignorance of the deep technical
aspects of a sport show more than on the gridiron. Here, to be
taken with the proverbial grain of salt, are what our local football
teams need to do in order to have a successful season.
Jefferson. Thanks to good ole boy Tom Murphy, the Dragons are
assured of participating in the first round of the class A playoffs.
The question is, what can they do to make the second round?
The Dragons must pull out an upset win over either Commerce or
Buford in order to avoid the likes of Athens Academy or Lincoln
County in round one. In order to beat any one of the above teams,
Jefferson must show dramatic improvement on both sides of the
ball during their non-region schedule. As is usually the case
in high school football, a tight defense is crucial. But also
important for Jefferson will be finding someone who can fill
at least one of Stephen Sims' shoes.
Though Sims' graduation has left the Jefferson offense without
its greatest weapon from 1999, good efforts from a couple of
backs could provide a silver lining. Two backs of somewhat lesser
but equal talent would be much harder to defend than one back
with more talent.
A good passing game would also help keep opposing defenders on
their toes, and the Dragons have at least one strong gun in the
Jackson County. This may sound a little too simple, but the key
for Jackson County is to get into the win column, preferably
early in the schedule.
Head coach Greg Lowe and his assistants looked long and hard
for help in the off-season, and the effort resulted in some new
faces on the practice field. Still, the football participation
numbers at Jackson County are abysmal when you consider the size
of their student body.
Nothing attracts attention like a winner, and after losing 19
straight games, the Panther football program would get a serious
shot in the arm with a few W's to their credit in 2000.
The coaching staff seems to be solid, but the 11 guys on the
field need to step it up a notch early and make people take notice.
The season opener against Banks County would be a good time to
do just that.
Jefferson. Not taking anything away from DeMaris Gurley, but
I think even I could win with the awesome lineup the Lady Dragons
bring to the field. Last year's team had little room for improvement,
as evidenced by their advancement to the state's Elite Eight.
With nine starters back, is there anything that needs work?
Believe it or not, one of the few weaknesses of the 1999 Jefferson
team was its incredible power. The slightly shorter field at
Jefferson tends to make folks look for the fences, and if you
play half of your games there, that tendency could easily affect
your road game as well.
The problem with that is that not all fields are that short.
Last year's sectional and state games at Lanier Point and Columbus
Power is a good thing in softball, but the Lady Dragons must
learn to hold that power in check at times if they are to reach
the state finals this year.
Jackson County. The Lady Panthers could go either way this year.
Jackson County lost eight players from last year's team, but
a large number of talented underclassmen will be listed on the
The older players are the key to success for the Lady Panthers.
The younger players will be greatly affected by their attitudes.
Juniors and seniors can't let early losses or mistakes get to
them, or the younger players will get discouraged. And that would
make for a very long and difficult season at Jackson County.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
August 16, 2000
Big Scary of the
Big Scary crept silent and stealthy through
the underbrush toward the herd, maybe even crawling on her belly
at times to stay out of sight. She paused on the very verge of
ambush when one alert cow raised its head, thought it heard a
crackling or creaking in the trees nearby and sent out an alarm.
Moo! Cows flew across the pasture, kicking up their heels and
bellowing out a warning to the other cows spread across various
parts of the field. Not even knowing why they did it, these distant
cows joined in the melee, also mooing and running to form a wild
pack, shoulder to shoulder, crashing through trees and finally
hiding en masse in the dark shadows along the edge of the woods.
Their eyes shone big and afraid as they waited to see if Big
Scary would follow.
Big Scary gave up the chase, at least this time.
I am Big Scary of the cow world, and I am also on occasion a
cow counter. I really don't crawl through the underbrush on my
belly, and I don't even try to sneak up on cows. But I am now
perceived as the scariest thing on two legs and my appearance
in the pastures around my house causes immediate chaos and a
general galloping for safety.
I am sometimes called upon to check on the 23 cows and calves
and one bull that live in the pastures behind and in front of
my house, making sure everyone is accounted for. Never a threatening
figure before, I made my mistake one afternoon recently, walking
through the garden and past a couple of trees - camouflaged!
- via the shortest route to a few of the cows. In the cows' minds,
apparently, the above scene played out. They barely escaped Big
Scary with their very lives, and they are always on the lookout
these days, ready to run, if necessary.
A neighboring cow counter said that if he shows up wearing a
different hat, his cows that paid him no mind the day before
are suddenly on the move, alarmed by this new and possibly threatening
They are very cautious, at any rate. When I step out the door
to walk to the mailbox or to my car, cow heads turn, big eyes
I like to watch the cows when I walk in the evenings. They look
at me. I look at them. Sometimes I moo. They are not impressed
and never even blink.
Big Scary walked nonchalantly down the road, pretending that
nothing was out of the ordinary. Suddenly, with eyes gleaming
and letting out a mocking moo, Big Scary leapt over the fence,
charging into the unsuspecting herd....
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.
Jackson County Opinion Index