Area Sports...

November 8, 2000


Smashing The Record
The Commerce side of Tiger Stadium was packed. There were 1,000 or more football fans on the hill. They were there not just to watch Commerce play cross-county rival Jefferson in the annual grudge game, but also to witness history being made.
They were not to be disappointed.
On his sixth carry, senior tailback Monté Williams lunged for four yards, bringing his career rushing total to 7,887, breaking Robert Toomer's all-classification rushing record of 7,886.
But before official Tiger statistician Jeff Prickett could relay the anticipated news to announcer Bill Davis, who would let the fans know, Williams took another handoff and was tackled for a four-yard loss.
Williams took the ball on the next play, picked up seven yards and put himself in the Georgia high school sports history books.
"It was a lot of fun. A lot of people got a lot of enjoyment out of that," noted Coach Steve Savage.
Quarterback Michael Collins hastily called time out. To the roar from a standing ovation, Williams walked to the sideline, faced the crowd and, surrounded by photographers, held the game ball up for all to see.
That wasn't the only time Williams made history Friday night. As he led Commerce to a 42-14 victory, the 100th career win for Savage, he also became the first Georgia football player to hit the 8,000-yard rushing mark. After running for 252 yards and scoring four TDs, Williams had 8,011 career yards.
That puts him 11th on the national rushing list.
"He might get to number seven or even number six," Savage noted, looking ahead to the playoffs.
Commerce winds up the season at Buford Friday night. In three previous starts against the Wolves, Williams has 607 yards and eight touchdowns.
The crowd, at least on the Commerce side, was reminiscent of the glory days of Commerce football when Tiger-Dragon games were serious business. Fans were two deep along the fence in front of the stands, prompting a call from the public address system for fans to sit down so those in the stands could see.
A good portion of it was press, as representatives of newspapers and television stations recorded Williams' every move.
Jefferson was never in the game. Commerce took the opening kickoff at its 33, then drove 67 yards in six plays to score, with Williams going in from 40 yards out.
Three plays and minus-nine yards after the ensuing kickoff, the Dragons had to punt, Commerce had the ball and Williams was ready to break the record. By the time Collins ran 15 yards to put Commerce up (after Casey Gary's PAT kick) 14-0, the fans had seen what they came to see; the rest was just icing on the cake.
There was icing enough to go around. Williams scored on runs of 23 and 40 yards, and Gary had a 10-yard TD run to put Commerce up 35-0 at the half. Williams' 53-yard run in the third period ended the Commerce scoring, and Jefferson managed two third-period touchdowns.
"I thought our offensive line played well," said Savage, and he singled out Twion Shealer and Gary for their defensive play. They each had eight tackles. Scott White added 10 tackles.
Gary had five carries for 54, while Collins ran for 28 yards on four carries and Shealer had 24 yards on three snaps. Rob Brown completed three of seven passes for 40 yards. Collins caught all three.
But when all is said and done, what will be remembered of this game in years to come is that Monté Williams set a new all-classification rushing record. It was, indeed, a night that will long be remembered in Commerce.




BCHS seniors take the field one last time Friday night
The big hill, the American flag, the bright lights and the cheering crowd.
That's what Banks County senior lineman Scott Garner will miss most about Leopard football when he plays his final game Friday night.
"Walking down the hill and looking up and seeing the lights and the flag and the fans, I'll miss that a lot," Garner said.
Receiver Chris Ivey gave similar feelings.
"I'll miss Friday nights under the lights with the players and coaches and the fans cheering you on," he said.
For other Leopards, playing together as friends will be what they miss most.
"We've been playing together since we were 5 or 6 years old," Steven Caudell said.
Jason White said the same: "I'll miss my friends and being with them and playing together as a team."
On almost every fall Friday night for the past four years, the nine Leopard seniors have come together and devoted their time to football. But after Friday, they'll no longer have the game to fill their afternoons or their Friday nights.
And as they get ready for the pre-game senior night festivities Friday, the seniors took a moment to reflect on the past four years and some of their most memorable moments, from the playoff season in 1997 to the Jefferson game last year.
Bray Maxwell said his most memorable time in Banks County football was the 1997 season when the team finished 8-3 with a muddy 12-0 loss to Crawford County in the first round of the playoffs.
Tim Williamson agreed: "I'd have to say my most memorable time was when we made it to the playoffs in '97 against Crawford."
Other BCHS seniors remembered last year's overtime win against Jefferson.
"The Jefferson game last year was a good game," quarterback Drew Gowder said.
Hank Jones also said he enjoyed last year's win over the Dragons.
"We won by penetration," he added.
Garner pointed to last year's Pickens game as his biggest.
"It was a hard-hitting, fast game," he said. "We took their star running back out of the game because we hit him so hard. They beat us, but they knew we were there."
As the nine seniors leave the team Friday night, their absence will no doubt be evident.
The senior Leopards will step away from key positions on the team, leaving big shoes the rising classes will have to fill.
"They've been a real good group," Banks County head coach Rance Gillespie said. "They are solid, hard-working kids that are real enjoyable to coach."
And Friday night, the lights will shine on the senior nine for their one last kickoff.
See this week's Banks County News for more comments from the Leopard senior football players.



Parr, Freeland run in top 20 at state meet
Jackson County runners Kelly Parr and Sara Freeland each finished in the top 20 in their respective 5K races Saturday at the state cross country meet, held in Carrollton.
Parr ran his best time on the difficult Carrollton course, finishing in 17:35. His time was 45 seconds faster than he ran on the same course six weeks ago. The effort was good for 12th place overall.
"Kelly started well in his race," said head coach Brent Mikel. "He maintained a strong and steady pace throughout the event." Parr was in the top 10 until near the end of the race, but a steep incline near the finish dropped him back. Even so, 12th out of 138 runners at the state meet is a feat few could accomplish.
Freeland placed 19th in her event, with a time of 22:18, also her best Carrollton time, 43 seconds faster than earlier in the season.
"Her race most likely was affected by pre-race jitters," Mikel said. "Sara didn't sleep or eat well prior to the meet, and she was pretty tired once the gun went off. She may not have crossed the line first, but she's still a champion to me. She worked very hard to get to the state meet this year. I am proud to have coached such a worthy competitor."
The pair will join many of their teammates in the spring, when the Panther track team gets back in action. Parr will return next year to anchor the 2001 cross country effort.

Raiders whip Athens Christian 43-0, cap off undefeated season
Smiles, hugs, pictures, confetti, tears of joy, memories - these words used to describe a single win for the Madison County Raider football team.
But Friday, these words summed up the 2000 Raider season. Madison County ran the table this year, thumping Athens Christian 43-0 to finish the season 10-0, the first perfect season in school history.
The 10 wins are the most since 1982, tying the Madison County record for victories in a season and setting a record for most regular season wins.
"Overall it was an exceptional year," said head coach Tom Hybl, who upped his record to 14-16 at Madison County with the win. "The kids did much better as the year went along....We had good leadership from our seniors."
The dream season came to an anticlimatic end not too far from home, with the Raiders taking a 15-minute ride down Hwy. 29 to dispose of the undermanned Athens Christian team, in the two schools' first-ever meeting on the gridiron. The Raiders ran up a 35-0 deficit at halftime and emptied the bench in the final two quarters to coast to the shutout win.
Still, the emotions still ran high after the win, despite the lopsided score.
"Words can't describe this feeling," said ecstatic senior Brad Kirk after the final contest of his Raider career. "Just to see how everything that went into this season paid off. I'll never forget this."
Junior Stephen Tippins also attempted to put the season into words after the win.
"It's really undescribable right now," he said of the unbeaten campaign. "It feels like we're all going to wake up and it's going to be Monday and we're all going to be back at training camp."
Sophomore running back Tony Freeman, who picked up 64 yards in the contest along with two scores, was a bit more matter-of-fact about the season, but said it was something he'd always remember.
"It feels great - a lot better than being 0-10," he said. "It's just a lasting experience."
Though memories of the season will linger, the game was over rather quickly, as the Raiders put Athens Christian, who completed their first year of GHSA football competition, in a big first half hole and never looked back. The win for the Raiders resembled Madison County's other nine during the year. Behind the impressive play of the offensive line, the Raiders pounded relentlessly at the Eagles' smaller defensive front, racking up 318 yards on 38 carries.
And accounting for a large chunk of the rushing yards was senior Donny Stamper. Stamper, who has had a knack for finding the end zone all year long, setting the Raider record for touchdowns this year, scored the first touchdown of the game not even two minutes into the contest, as he picked up a 28-yard score up the middle with 10:03 left in the first quarter. Stamper's run completed a quick five-play, 54-yard drive.
The Eagles, however, had a brief glimmer of life early on in the game as they picked up a Raider fumble on Madison County's 34. However, their drive stalled and things were pretty much over for Athens Christian from that point.
Madison County took the ball back and took a two-touchdown lead as Freeman shot through a hole and raced 42 yards down the right sideline to make the score 14-0 just as the first quarter ended.
The second quarter wouldn't get much prettier for the Eagles as Freeman struck again, taking a handoff up the middle on the Athens Christian 17, then bounced outside and sprinted for the end zone again, putting Madison County up 21-0 with 8:53 left in the first half.
The run capped off a six-play, 63-yard drive.
Then the most unlikely of Raider players would pick up the next score. With the Eagles on their own 20, Madison County sent an all-out blitz on the Athens Christian quarterback, causing him to throw a short, errant pass which was picked off by defensive lineman Brandon Hayes, who plowed 10 yards for the touchdown, making the score 28-0.
"We had a stunt on and we got some pressure," Hayes said of the play. "I guess he was trying to throw it away and it came straight to my hands."
The game then turned into an all-out rout in the first half, as the Raiders engineered a six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive, set up by a 38-yard run by Stamper to the Eagle seven. Kirk capped the drive off with the final touchdown of his career, pounding into the end zone from a yard out to put his team up by five touchdowns with 38 seconds left in the half.
Stamper, who had 174 yards on 14 carries in his last game for Madison County, added one more score to his stellar senior year, getting the Raiders' final touchdown of the game on their first possession of the second half, going up the middle, then breaking down the left side for a 49-yard score. Senior Drew Brantley then caught a pass in the end zone for a two-point conversion.
"It was a great finish to the season," Hybl said of the win. "I was disappointed we didn't play better. But we shut them out and won. I think we were a little too focused on going 10-0 and not on the game."
For the Raiders, the program came full circle with the win, as the unbeaten mark this year is a complete reversal of Madison County's 0-10 mark just three years ago. Hybl, who guided the Raiders to their umblemished record, told his team after the game that their accomplishement this year will be something they can alway remember.
"You guys have got a lifetime memory for your bank," Hybl said of the season. "I hope you'll remember it."
Hybl said the team picked up some quality wins despite having a non-region schedule.
"Everybody has made such a big deal about the non-region schedule and yeah, it helped us compete," he said. "But we played South Forsyth, a AAA school, North Hall and Union Grove, both AAAA schools, Apalachee, a AA school, and four A schools, and two of those are in the playoffs...The schedule is not like what we would have played if we had been in the region, but it was not a lay-down schedule. We won some tough games on the road."
Hybl added that his squad has a distinction among teams playing a non-region schedule this year.
"I'm sure we're the only undefeated team playing a non-region schedule," he said.


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