Area Sports...

 August 30, 2000

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FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Jefferson 27 - Athens Christ. 0 / Jackson Co. 20 - Banks Co. 6
Commerce 20 - Franklin Co. 6
/ Madison Co. 21 - Appalachee 0

Commerce To Visit Franklin County Friday
The Commerce Tigers will get the first of seven non-region tests this Friday in Carnesville against Franklin County at 8 p.m.
With three region games at the end of the schedule, the Tigers will turn to a recent foe for game one.
"It's a good measuring stick for us," Commerce coach Steve Savage said. "It's always a good contest. A lot of people from both communities like to see the game. Carnesville is not that far away."
The two teams have played each other for the past four years and will continue to play for this year and 2001. Commerce has won the last three contests, including a 28-15 win last year in Commerce.
To keep the winning streak alive against the Lions, Commerce will have to over come the size and experience of Franklin County, Savage said.
"They've got 22 or 24 seniors back," Savage said. "Their line is just about all back. And they've got good skill folks. Defensively, the secondary looked quick. And they're big up front, as usual."
Commerce leads the all-time series with Franklin County 11-3. The Lions downed the Tigers in 1996 by a score of 35-13.
JAMBOREE
Commerce got to try out this year's team in a jamboree last Friday with Stephens County and Athens Academy.
"It went well," Savage said. "We played everybody we had."
Seniors Michael Collins and Wes Massey split time at quarterback. The offensive line got a chance to see game-like conditions. With an entirely new front in their first action, Savage said the group responded well.
"Our young line of scrimmage did better then we might have thought," Savage said. "We've still got a long way to go. But overall, we were pleased."
Seeing some people perform on defense was also useful at the jamboree, Savage said.
"We got to see some folks on defense," Savage said. "Being able to scrimmage puts a highlight on things that you need to work on. And we saw several things we need to work on."
The teams ran scrimmage-type situations during the time allotted at the jamboree. Each team got a chance to work on offense and defense.
The Spartans will be on the regular season schedule for the Tigers as well this year with the Oct. 6 game set in Commerce.



Leopards, Panthers to open regular season Friday night
Friday night's football foes will be fighting over the gas pedal and the brake.
The Banks County Leopards will host the Jackson County Comprehensive High School Panthers for the opening game of the 2000 football season with a pair of very different streaks.
Banks County closed out 1999 with two region wins to finish 4-6 after an 0-10 year in 1998. No reason for the boys in blue to slow down.
On the other side, Jackson County opened 1998 with a win over the Leopards and followed with 19 straight losses through the 1999 season. It's definitely time for the Panthers to hit the brakes. One streak will end Friday night.
The two teams met a year ago, with Banks County pulling out a 9-8 overtime victory by penetration. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak for the Leopards. This year, the Panthers are mired in their own downward spiral that stands at 19 straight losses.
Each team had a chance to drive out some of the kinks at jamborees last Friday. Banks County won each of its mini-games over Northwest Whitfield and Fannin County.
Jackson County held timed scrimmages with Jefferson and Lumpkin County for their jamboree. While JCCHS coach Greg Lowe was pleased with the overall performance, he admitted his team is aware of their losing streak.
"We were a little tight," Lowe said. "We all know there's a huge monkey on our backs. Going out there and playing tight is not the way to get him off. We just need to go out there and have fun."
Lowe said that playing Banks County is no great departure from their Region 8-AAA schedule that boasts the likes of Hart County, Loganville, Stephens County and Elbert County.
"(Banks County is) a solid ball club," Lowe said. "They're well-coached. It's no easy pickings. But where we are, there are no easy pickings."
JAMBOREE
Banks County had several things to feel good about and to work on after their jamboree in Fannin County Friday. The passing game had good success against Northwest Whitfield. The running game had a good showing against Fannin and Northwest.
Leopard coach Rance Gillespie said he was pleased with the passing game against Northwest Whitfield and saw several bright spots in the running game.


2000 pigskin season begins Friday
Football teams from Jefferson and Jackson County will see their first official outings of the 2000 season Friday night, both on their opponents' turf. Jackson County heads to Homer to battle Banks County in a 7:30 p.m. rematch of last year's overtime game, which the Leopards won on penetration. Jefferson is set to bang helmets with the Eagles of Athens Christian School. The game clock in Athens will start at 8 p.m.
JAMBOREE
The Panthers and Dragons squared off in a jamboree Friday at Panther field, with Lumpkin County along for the ride.
Bradley Wilson stepped under center for the Panther offense in the first session. Terry Blackwell got things rolling for Jackson County early, with a 64-yard score on the opening drive. Yewphang Vanchiasong's PAT sailed squarely through the uprights.
Terriss Hale had a strong 28-yard run on the second drive, and the Panthers were successful often when running outside.
Session two saw the Jefferson defense trying to stop Lumpkin County. Andrew Cambers came up with a big tackle for a loss on the first play, and Shane Wilburn followed with another shortly after, but the Indians used a big gain up the middle to set up their first score. Brantley Gilbert had a score-saving tackle at the five-yard line to save another, but Lumpkin County was back in the end zone again shortly.
When they first took the field, the Dragon offense was a bit slow out of the gate. Quarterback Kyle Potts had little protection on an early play, and fumbled while being sacked. Jackson County's Casey Berryman was there to pounce on the ball.
Jefferson got warmed up quickly, though, with Roderick Young dashing out for a 70-yard touchdown off a misdirection play. Blackwell later grabbed a Corey Hill pass for an interception, but Hill followed by hitting Caleb Mattox for a 43-yard gain. Brantley Gilbert also saw time at quarterback for Jefferson.
Jackson County's defense remained on the field for the next session, against Lumpkin. Joseph Westmoreland stooped to pick up an Indian fumble when the ball hopped off the turf, then rambled for a sizable gain. Sam Veal saved a score by stopping the Lumpkin quarterback on a 60-yard keeper, but the Indians scored soon after. The ensuing drive also resulted in a score, just as the time clock expired.
Potts set up another Jefferson score in the next session, with a 45-yard gain. Young took the ball in for his second touchdown of the night. Wilburn and Hill both had big gains during later drives.
The final session of the night saw the Panther offense against the Dragon defense. Jackson County fumbled on the first play, but Berryman dove on the ball to recover. A busted play followed, and the Panthers coughed up the ball for the second straight play. Clint Mize came in later at quarterback, and Vanchiasong and Travis Parks closed the night with big gains for Jackson County.
"It was a good experience," said Panther head coach Greg Lowe after the matchup. "To be honest, we were a little bit tight. We all know there's a huge monkey on our backs right now, but going out there and playing tight is not the way to get him off. We just need to go out there and play and have fun. Our effort was good. I was pretty pleased."
On the Jefferson sideline, head coach Bob Gurley also seemed pleased.
"There were some bright spots and some dark spots in there," Gurley said. "We didn't play as well the first session as I would have liked. The second two, we picked it up and did a lot better, both on offense and defense. It jsut took a little time to get warmed up. All the problems we had are fixable ones."
The Dragons suffered a notable loss early, as Ben Songer broke his arm during a play. Songer was taken from the field area by automobile, as there was no ambulance service available at the event.
"He got hung up in a pile somehow," Gurley said. "He'll be out four to six weeks. Chris Seibert is also out now due to injury, and we're not quite sure when he's going to be back, so Jeremy Love will assume the role of kicker."


Lady Panthers 8-4 after finishing third in tournament
Jackson County's slow-pitch softball team took its fourth loss of the season Tuesday at home against West Hall, 3-0. Erin Strickland and Megan Elliott put a pair of hits together to mount a threat in the third inning, and April Cantrell combined with Shana Gibbs and Laura Stephens for a double play in the fourth, but the Jackson County bats were quiet for most of the game.
The Lady Panthers took third place Saturday in the Jackson County Invitational, held at Lamar Murphy Park. Jackson County won five of six games in the event, losing only to 1999 state class AA participant Elbert County.
Jackson County started with an eight-inning 4-3 win over Glascock County. Laura Stephens came through with an RBI single in the eighth for the game-winner. Megan Elliott led off the inning with a single, and reached second on an error. A sacrifice fly by April Cantrell pushed Elliott to third, and she trotted home on Stephens' hit.
A close 11-10 decision over Union County followed, then a 10-1 blowout of Salem, coached by former Jefferson assistant coach Brandi Corbett. Kristi Healan drove in Brandi Barber and Erin Strickland with her first career home run in the second inning against Fannin County in a 13-3 win.
The Lady Panthers were tied with Elbert County late in the game, until the Blue Devils took advantage of a number of Jackson County errors to take a 10-2 win. That left the Lady Panthers in a rematch against Salem in the consolation finals, with Commerce facing Elbert for the tournament championship.
Healan drove in Ashley Rainwater with a single up the middle in the third inning against Salem, and Robin Stancil followed shortly thereafter with a single that drove in Sosebee and Cantrell. A sacrifice fly by Shana Gibbs gave the Lady Panthers a 4-0 lead.
Cantrell burned the Salem outfield for a home run in the fifth, and Gibbs added a homer of her own to make it 8-1.
Elliot made a run-saving tag near the plate in the sixth, and started a game-ending double play to Cantrell and LeeAnn Lance in the seventh to end the game with an 11-5 win.
Cantrell and Nikki Sosebee were named to the all-tournament team. Cantrell was 13-for-22 from the plate, with three home runs and 14 RBIs, and Sosebee drove in two while going 9-for-22. Strickland (7-17, 1RBI), Healan (4-9, 1HR), Ashley Rainwater (2HR) and Shanna Gibbs (7-19, 1HR) also did well with the bat.
Elbert defeated Commerce 12-6 to claim the first-place trophy.
"We played fairly well," said head coach Clarke Rainwater. "Any time you go into a tournament and come out 5-1, you can't complain too much. But I told the girls, if we're going to get past sectionals, we're going to have to beat somebody good. We've played three teams that were really good so far, and we've managed to lose. That's the thing we've got to work on, is beating somebody really good."
The Lady Panthers will host Buford Thursday at 5:30 p.m., with a JV game preceding. Oconee County comes calling Tuesday at 6 p.m., and also brings its JV squad for a 5 p.m. game.


Raiders down South Forsyth 14-10, pass first test of non-region schedule
While the game may have lacked flash and glitter, the four-point win posted on the South Forsyth scoreboard in the season opener gleamed bright as gold for the Red Raiders and their faithful.
The Madison County football team took their first steps in their journey in attempting to right the path of the program by putting away South Forsyth, the Raiders' first opponent of their non-region season, in a 14-10 war.
"This feels great," a fired-up Donny Stamper said after the victory. "This is what we seniors came here to do this season. This is why we went to a non-region schedule, to help build something for the younger guys on the team."
And while the Raiders' non-region season, aimed at pitting the Raiders against teams with similar numbers, still has miles to go, the indications from the squad's first battle point to some positives.
Madison County was able to venture into South Forsyth's backyard, not play their best game, and still pull out a victory against an opponent which figured to be one of the toughest on the squad's 2000 schedule.
"We didn't play that well," Tom Hybl told his team who became the first Raider squad to win their opener since 1994 when Madison County trounced Commerce 27-12. "But I'm proud of the effort we showed. It might have been one of our best efforts."
It didn't come easy as the team got a few breaks in the contest, picking up four War Eagle fumbles - three of which were in Madison County territory - to help preserve the win. South Forsyth's final fumble of the game proved to be the most crucial as the War Eagles dropped a punt on the Raiders 34-yard-line, a catch that would have given South Forsyth excellent field position with only three minutes remaining in the contest.
The Raider team established itself early in the contest, drawing first blood with a first quarter touchdown, then finding the end zone again in the second quarter to take a 14-3 edge into the locker room.
In the first half, Madison County picked up the War Eagles' first fumble on the South Forsyth 43, which led to the Raiders' first scoring drive of the contest.
Madison County used six plays to reach the end zone as Jonathon Pou capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 6:30 left to go in the first quarter. The score was set up two plays earlier as Stamper, swung left, broke three tackles and rumbled down to the 10-yard-line before fumbling the ball into the hands of Brad Kirk, who took the ball down to the War Eagle three-yard-line.
After South Forsyth answered with a 31-yard field goal with 1:29 left to go in the quarter, the Raiders followed with their second touchdown of the game as Kirk plunged in from one yard out at the 8:02 mark in the second quarter to complete a seven-play, 38-yard scoring drive.
Running back Preston Forston seemingly had saved the offense the trouble minutes before on the kickoff as he took the ball on the 10 and then switched into high gear, blazing 90 yards down the left side for the score. However, Forston's effort was wiped off the scoreboard as a clip was called near the end of the run.
After the Raider offense sputtered in the second half, the squad relied on defense to guide them the rest of the way as they surrendered a touchdown in the third quarter but then shut the War Eagles out in the final quarter.
The defense had their hands full as South Forsyth scrapped their pass-happy attack and went to the ground, a plot that worked well for the War Eagles on first possession of the second half, piecing together a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive. On the drive, South Forysth called on running back Taylor Owensby to carry the ball five times as he capped the drive off with a one-yard score with 6:50 left in the third quarter. South Forsyth then threatened the Raider lead twice in the final quarter of play but came up with nothing to show for it.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, the War Eagles pushed deep into Madison County territory but sputtered on the Raider 27, bringing up a fourth-and-five situation. The defense then rose to the occasion, stopping South Forsyth a half yard shy of the first down marker.
Then, at the 3:39 mark in the fourth quarter, the War Eagles had an opportunity for great field position, pinning the Raider offense deep in their own territory, forcing Kirk to punt from his own end zone. However, Madison County received a gift from the War Eagles as they committed the crucial drop on the punt. Richard Stowers recovered the ball on the Raider 34 and the offense was able to run out the clock, securing the victory. The Raiders will now use the hard-fought victory as a springboard for the rest of the season.
"It feels great to be 1-0," said quarterback/defensive back Pou who led the team with 16 tackles on the night. "This win gets us up for the next week. We can go in with the feeling that we can win. It's hard to do that after a loss."


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