Area Sports...

 September 20, 2000

Walhalla To Visit Tigers For Homecoming 2000
Commerce's 2000 homecoming opponent will be a state away from home Friday night. The Tigers will welcome Walhalla (S.C.) to Tiger Stadium for the first meeting between the two teams.
Walhalla is ranked in some South Carolina Class AA polls. The Razorbacks finished 5-5 last season, losing in the first round of the South Carolina playoffs.
"They're an I-formation team," Commerce coach Steve Savage said. "On defense, they look like a 4-3 team. They run and throw. They're going to mix it up on you. They option some, too."
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
The Tigers will return to their home field after losing for the first time in 24 straight games, including playoff matchups, to Forsyth Central, 16-15.
Commerce got back on track last Friday with a 35-14 win over Morgan County in Madison.
Monté Williams and Michael Collins provided almost all of the Tigers' offense on the ground.
Williams finished with 15 carries for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
Collins had fewer yards (133), but he reached the end zone three times.
After going through the practice week without their head coach, the Commerce Tigers got a little bit of a surprise at the end of the week.
"We were in the lockerroom and he just kind of popped up," Collins said. "It was kind of different at practice without our coach there. We just wanted to come out and execute better than we did last week. And I think we proved that we can."
Commerce finished with 367 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.
Savage said he had prepared himself for the likelihood of spending the weekend in the hospital.
"The doctors were talking about letting me out on Saturday or Sunday," Savage said. "But they came in on Thursday and told me I could do what I was doing at home. And I didn't argue with them."
Savage got to see the Commerce running game in gear early and often.
Collins took the second play from scrimmage 64 yards for the Tigers' first score. Casey Gary added the point after to make the lead 7-0.
After the defense recovered a Bulldog fumble, Collins scored on the third play of Commerce's offensive drive with a 23-yard scamper.
Williams got into the scoring ledger on the Tigers' third possession, running for 52 yards and paydirt.
Morgan County's six first-half possessions ended with two punts, two fumbles, a turnover on downs and an interception.
Williams closed out the Tigers' first-half scoring with an 86-yard run. Morgan County had backed the Tigers up to their 1 with a downed punt.
Lee Sorrow ended the Bulldogs' only scoring threat of the first half with the first of his two interceptions on the night. Sorrow picked off the ball at his own 19, returning to the 35. Commerce knelt on the ball to run out the clock at halftime.
Morgan County responded in the second half with an 11-play touchdown drive to make the score 28-7.
Commerce gave the Bulldogs new life after a Williams fumble led to another Morgan County touchdown drive.
Williams atoned for his miscue the next time he touched the ball, taking a 37-yard run down to the four. Collins banged in from there for his third touchdown. Gary's kick ended the scoring at 35-14.
"We did some things better," Savage said. "But we've still got a lot of improvement to make. But any win is a good win."
Commerce attempted one pass in the game, which was incomplete.

BCHS opens 8-AA schedule Friday
Banks County did not open the 2000 football season with the effect it had desired. Friday night, the Leopards will get a chance to put the two non-region losses behind them against a tough Dawson County team.
The Tigers, ranked in the top 10 in the state by some polls, reached the playoffs last year for the first time in school history and won. This year, Dawson County is 3-0, again for the first time ever.
Banks County lost its opening games to Jackson County and Jefferson. Now they look to rebound against the Tigers.
"They've got a good line of scrimmage," Banks County coach Rance Gillespie said. "We've got to play well.
"They run their offense well, and they don't make a lot of mistakes. They got some good players."
Banks County came out of the Jackson County game without one of its good players.
Starting receiver and linebacker Mike Ivey suffered a severe sprained ankle, foring him to miss the Jefferson game as well.
"He's going to be close," Gillespie said. "He's moving around. If it's up to him, he's going to play. The trainer has been coming every day to run him and test the ankle. But for now we're just going to have to play it by ear."
The Tigers made a late charge into the playoffs last season on the back of Neal Cain's running and tackling. Cain has graduated, but 16 other starters from the 1999 squad will be back.
Still, Cain's 1,715 yards and 32 touchdowns accounted for 70 percent of the team's offense last year.
Quarterback Benji Edwards is back after passing for 662 yards in the rush-oriented attack last season.
The entire offensive line also returns to protect Edwards and block for running backs Cliff Strickland and Dan Fowler.
Banks County and Dawson County were both in Region 8-A for the past two seasons, but the two did not play each other because the power schedule gave each team in the region a bye against two other teams.
Dawson County did play Banks County last season in the jamboree in Homer before the season. Banks County took the edge in that minigame by a score of 14-0, although Cain did not play in the second half.
Friday's game will mark the fifth anniversary of the last meeting between the two teams. On Sept. 22, 1995, Banks County downed Dawson County 22-16.

Which Volley Cats will show up?
Jackson County's Volley Cats will travel to Hart County Thursday, in a rematch of Tuesday's tri-match at Madison County. Also on this week's agenda is a trip to Winder, to face the Bulldoggs and Cedar Shoals.
Head coach Robin Potter said the Cats presented two strikingly different teams to their opponents Tuesday in Danielsville. Jackson County lost game one to Madison County, 15-7, before rallying to take the match, 15-4/15-13. The proverbial shoe was on the other foot in the match against Habersham Central, as the Volley Cats dropped two straight games and the match after getting on the board with a win in game one.
"We're just so close, and yet something's missing," Potter said. "It's like we put it together for a little while, and then we fall apart."
Jackson County honored seniors Alex Rudio and Stacey Finch last Thursday prior to their final home match. Norcross bested the Cats, 15-6/16-14 after a lengthy game two.
Julie Griffith started the scoring early for Jackson County, picking up an ace on the Cats' first serve of the game. Jackson County went up 2-0 on Griffith's serves before losing posession.
Norcross pounced on the opportunity, scoring six unanswered points before Britney Compton added two more for Jackson County to make it 6-4. Finch added two more minutes later, and the game was tied. Jackson County then failed to score on four straight posessions, and Norcross took the game.
Finch set Rudio for a monster slam off Sara Gallagher's serve to put the Cats up 1-0 in game two. Britney Compton offered up a good set, and Carey Yonce added another, but Jackson County went through seven consecutive serves without getting on the board again.
Fortunately, Norcross struggled to score as well, and neither team could post a lead greater than four points the entire game. The team finally picked up two points each with Rudio and Finch at the line, but it wasn't until Crystal Yonce took the ball that the Cats were able to mount a serious threat. Yonce posted an ace during her turn, and Rudio added a huge block to pick up a point. Jackson County trailed by one, 11-10.
Norcross' scoring dried up even further, as they saw five servers come to the line without earning a point. Compton tied the game with a hard serve, and the Cats picked up two more off Finch's serves to take a 13-11 lead. After earning another with Carey Yonce at the line, Jackson County looked to be on their way to a win, up 14-12.
Norcross finally got their act together, putting up three straight points to take a 15-14 lead. The Lady Devils claimed the win when Rudio's block attempt fell just out of bounds to the right.
For more coverage of Jackson County sports, see this week's Jackson Herald.

JHS hopes to slow Red Raider roll
The Madison County Red Raiders have rolled over each of the four opponents they've faced this year.
But if the Jefferson Dragons have a say in the matter, Madison County's roll will stop Friday night. The Dragons are slated to take on the Red Raiders Friday at 8 p.m. in Danielsville.
And even though the strength of Madison County's opponents this year can be questioned, Jefferson head coach Bob Gurley refuses to underestimate the Region 8-AAA opponent.
"They'll be the best team we played so far," Gurley said. "They are a sound team and they play physical."
Madison County's offense, anchored by running back Donny Stamper, is averaging 28 points per game and racked up 42 against North Hall last week. The Red Raider offense has also averaged 276.5 yards per game on the ground this year, including a 406-yard performance last week.
Johnson's running game gave Jefferson fits last week and the Red Raiders, who have a lot of depth in the running back position, could possibly do the same.
"They have a different kind of offense than these kids have ever seen," Gurley said.
Stamper had 263 yards and five touchdowns on 17 carries last week for Madison County. He has averaged 200 yards over his last two games, including a 137-yard performance against Jackson County two weeks ago.
"We are looking hard at them defensively," Gurley said. "We're just trying to get our kids honed in on them."
While the Raider team of old has been prone to cough the ball up often in a game, this year's team has done a substantially better job holding onto the ball.
However, Jefferson won't go into the game without a few trumph cards of its own.
The Red Raiders have yet to face an opponent with as threatening a passing attack as the Dragons tout.
North Hall put the ball in the air several times against Madison County last week, but with little effectiveness. The Red Raiders have shown the ability to defend against deep pass plays but have had the tendency to be vulnerable to the shorter pass.
Jefferson's junior quarterback Kyle Potts threw for two touchdowns last week and two more the week before against Banks County. Should the Dragons also get their running game geared up, they will have a formidable arsenal to use on Madison County.
"We worked against their type of defense a good bit this summer," Gurley said. "It will be nothing real new to us, but we must decide how to attack it."
The Red Raiders' defense has given up an average of only five and a half points per game this year.
Madison County is playing a non-region schedule this year after several years of struggling with a losing season. Their last winning season came in 1991.
The Red Raiders have also been plagued with participation problems. Though they are largest Class AAA school, Madison County has just over 40 players on their roster.
The Dragons will come to the game with over 50 players.
"I think it will be a hard game, but our kids are up to the challenge," Gurley said.
For coverage of last week''s Jefferson-Johnson game, see this week's Jackson Herald.

Senior running back rumbles for five touchdowns, 263 yards in 42-6 thrashing of North Hall
Just call it a bit of foreshadowing.
Moments before kickoff in Friday night's Madison County-North Hall match-up, the overhead announcer at Red Raider Stadium mispronounced senior Raider running back Donny Stamper's name as Donny "Stomper."
Regardless of whether anyone in attendance caught the minor error, which was quickly corrected, the mishap ironically foretold Stamper's explosive performance on the night.
The senior running back "stomped" his way to a stout 263 yards on only 17 carries against the Trojan defense while finding the end zone five times en route to leading Madison County to a 42-6 shellacking of North Hall in front of a packed house.
Stamper's five touchdowns tied an apparent school record held by former Raider standout Ricky Collins, who scored five times against Monroe Area in a 41-23 win in 1996.
The game looked more like a personal track meet for Stamper as he spent the majority of the night out-sprinting the Trojan secondary, getting touchdown runs of 69, 62, 39, 34 and 4 yards in the break-out performance of his Raider career.
"This really feels great," Stamper said of his stellar performance. "I was already 10 yards down the field before I had to do anything. The line did such a great job, especially Matthew Collins, who had to step in for Dustin Walker. Everybody just did a great job."
Over the past two weeks, Stamper has emerged as the featured runner out of the Raider back field. Before Friday's explosion, Stamper picked up his first 100-yard rushing game of his career, gaining 137 yards in last week's 21-6 win over Jackson County, highlighted by a game-breaking 57-yard score. Stamper is averaging 200 yards rushing in the Raider's past two contests.
Not to be lost in Stamper's single-game success was the fact that Madison County became the first Raider team to post a 4-0 start since 1991.
The win came against an opponent who Madison County has been dominant over in recent years, picking up their sixth consecutive win over the Trojans, whose last win over the Red Raiders came in 1992.
The Madison County dominance showed in Friday night's contest as the Raiders jumped out to a three-touchdown lead at the half, then tacked on two more scores in the second half in the blow out win.
Madison County's offense steam rolled its way over the Trojans, racking up a robust 406 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns against the North Hall defense.
In the contest, it was Preston Fortson who scorched North Hall first, blazing 41 yards down the left sideline on the first play of the Raider second possession to put Madison County up 7-0 with 7:33 left in the first quarter.
After picking up a North Hall fumble, Madison County picked up their second score in three offensive plays as Stamper broke loose down the right side and rumbled for a 39-yard score on the second play of the drive, putting the Raiders up by two scores.
Stamper then wreaked havoc on the Trojan defense on his next score, literally running over several North Hall tacklers in his path, plowing his way 34 yards to the end zone.
The run capped off a 10-play, 96-yard march. North Hall's complex passing scheme, which saw several four wide-out sets, then warmed up in the second quarter as the Trojans answered the Raider score with a seven-play, 56-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown run to cut the gap to 21-6.
The Trojans looked to begin to build some momentum as their defense forced Madison County into a third-and-eight on their own 38-yard line. However, Stamper burned North Hall again, going around the right side for a 62-yard scamper, putting the Raiders up by a count of 28-6.
Stamper didn't have so far to go for his fourth score of the night, crashing into the end zone from four yards out late in the third quarter to cap off a quick three-play, 55-yard drive, putting his squad up 35-6.
However, Stamper saved his best run for last. After the Raiders forced a turnover on downs late in the third quarter, Stamper broke free down the right side on the first play of the possession and sprinted 69 yards for his fifth score of the evening.

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