football action begins
The Jackson County football team was the
first out of the preseason gate last week, traveling to Cleveland
for a scrimmage against the Warriors of White County.
Jefferson's preseason debut will come this Friday at home, when
the second-year Apalachee Wildcats come calling for an 8 p.m.
scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. In their first year of competition
last year, the Wildcats finished 0-8 in Region 8-AA and 1-9 overall.
LOWE PLEASED WITH PANTHERS
Jackson County's scrimmage last week brought smiles to everyone's
faces, including that of Panther head coach Greg Lowe.
"It was a happy bus on the way home," Lowe said. "Our
effort was real good, and our enthusiasm was real good. Our execution
was not where we'd like it to be, but it is early August. We
didn't turn the ball over; we were really pleased with that .
. . We got what we wanted out of it, and I think the White County
coaches got out of it what they wanted."
The Panther defense forced a couple of turnovers and kept White
County out of the end zone, despite a few threats. On offense,
Jackson County held on to the ball well, and the second team
reached the Warrior end zone near the end of the scrimmage.
Sophomore quarterback Jerrod Glass found classmate Chris Huskey
for a 45-yard gain to the White County 20-yard line, and another
sophomore, quarterback Alex Lowe, stepped in on the next play
and hit Huskey again for a 20-yarder into the end zone.
Though they've continued to practice all this week, the Panthers
will take a breather Friday for a preseason retreat and goal-setting
session. According to Lowe, the time-out will allow his players
and coaches to get better acquainted before the August 31 season-opener
against Banks County.
"It gives some of our kids an opportunity to talk to our
coaches more privately and individually. It's a great opportunity
for our assistants to get to know the kids they work with."
Jackson County and
Jefferson will meet next Friday at the Dragons' Memorial Field
for a 7 p.m. scrimmage. Both teams open the regular season a
week later at home. Jefferson will host Athens Christian, while
the Panthers welcome Banks County.
The Associated Press released its preseason football poll this
week, and Regions 8-A and 8-AAA each had three members receiving
2000 state runner-up Buford leads the Class A poll, with reigning
champion Commerce fourth. Jefferson finsihed 13th in the polling.
In Class AAA, current champion Swainsboro is number one, with
Hart County fourth. Stephens County and Franklin County also
with Athens Christian in scrimmage
Leopards to host Athens Academy in scrimmage Fri.
Banks County got its first taste of pigskin competition during
a scrimmage last Thursday with Athens Christian.
The Leopards' new coaching staff will get another look at the
team Friday when Banks hosts Athens Academy in a 7 p.m. scrimmage
at Bobby Morris Field.
Banks is preparing for its season opener on the road against
Jackson County on Friday, Aug. 31.
"We're going to work on our stuff and try to get ready for
the season," head coach Greg Moore said. "I told the
kids we were not going to treat the scrimmage as a game."
The Leopards, who come into the 2001 season with a young team,
a new coaching staff and a new offensive scheme, tied with Athens
Both teams scored one touchdown each.
On offense, Banks County untilized its position players in the
backfield. Sophomore Seth Brownlee grabbed the team's only score
with a 30-yard run.
The Eagles had trouble throughout the scrimmage containing Banks'
Banks County went to the air only a handful of times.
"I think our first team played very well," Moore said.
"I think we've still got to work on our reads."
Defensively, the Leopards were able to keep Athens' rushing game
However, Banks had some trouble defending against the Eagles'
deep passing attack.
Athens Christian scored its only touchdown off a long pass play
against the Leopards' second string defense.
Tigers Nearing Gridiron Season
With Friday night gridiron action just around the corner, the
preseason prognosticators have once again placed the Commerce
Tigers among the state's elite.
The defending Class A state champion squad, which lost nine seniors
from last year's team, has been ranked fourth in the state by
the Associated Press poll which was released Tuesday.
Ranked ahead of Commerce are Buford, who the Tigers downed 27-19
last year in the state championship, along with Lincoln County
and Athens Academy, both of which Commerce will take on during
the regular season.
Along with the recognition from sportswriters, things have also
been going well on the practice field for the Tigers.
Commerce head football coach Steve Savage said the team made
some positive strides during the past week.
"I think practice went well and I think the kids are starting
to catch on," the 13th-year head coach said. "We're
pleased with how they're doing."
But Savage, who owns a 106-40 record in his tenure at Commerce,
explained that his squad is still very young.
"We're still teaching them how to practice, teaching them
what they need to do-to give effort on every play," said
Savage whose squad has been practicing in pads since July 30.
Savage said the team "has looked good defensively at times"
and that they're "still looking to see what we can do offensively."
The Tigers will have another week of practice before taking on
Stephens County and Athens Academy August 24 in a 7:30 p.m. jamboree.
Commerce will then kick the season off a week later in an 8 p.m.
matchup at Tiger Field.
ready to bring on the heat
Despite loss of eight seniors, softball Raiders look for success
in 2001. Raider softball coach Doug Kesler hopes that success
will be a hard habit for his team to break, even with a different
cast of players this year.
The nucleus that guided the fast-pitch softball program to 72
wins over the past three years is gone, but head coach Doug Kesler
believes the group he has on the diamond in 2001 can live up
to the expectations of Raider past.
"You could look at it like a rebuilding year," said
Kesler, who lost eight seniors of last year's team who went 26-11
and finished fourth in the state. "But we're looking to
try to win 20 games this year for the fourth year in a row, win
our area and go to state," he said .
However, the fourth-year coach understands that the 2001 campaign
will have it's hurdles.
The program, which sports 23 players this year, will have to
contend with inexperience paired with injuries.
The team's only senior, second baseman Amanda Lewis, is on the
disabled list with a broken bone in her ankle while the team's
top hurler, junior Lindsey Barnette, who was a first team all-state
selection a year ago, is on the shelf with back problems and
fluid problems in her knee.
Both are out indefinetly but Kesler said he hopes both can be
back by at least the end of the season.
"If we can get healthy, everything should work out,"
Kesler said. "We can be okay."
But Kesler said he is optimistic because of what he sees on the
field, rather than dwell on what isn't. The coach said this year's
outfit has talent that just needs to be nurtured with game experience.
"A lot of the girls we have on the team this year would
have gotten a lot of playing time last year had they been on
any other team, but we had a lot of talented seniors," he
The coach said this year's bunch should be able to carry the
weight offensively while adding some speed on the basepaths.
"We should be able to hit the ball," Kelser said. "But
what we'll have this year that we haven't had in past years is
speed on the basepaths. That will be a benefit."
Kesler looks to a host of players-mostly juniors-to chip in offensively:
Sarah Owens, Brooke Kesler, Danielle Johnson, Lewis when she
returns, Melanie Elrod and sophomore Candance Shubert who hit
at a .388 clip in 2000.
However, pitching is where the team might experience some growing
pains. With Barnette(14-2 with a 0.20 ERA in 2000) out, the pitching
staff will have two freshmen-Sarah Tippins and Laura Bird-to
go along with junior Johnson.
The team will have some valuable help from the dugout this year
to help with Mellisa Mullins who was added to the staff as an
assistant. Mullins has experience both as a pitcher and a catcher
at the collegiate level, playing three years at McNesse State
and one at Louisiana State.
"She will be a big plus," Kesler said.
While 2001 may see a lot of new faces, the coach sees it as a
"It's a new year, we've got new kids and we're going to
work hard to put a team on the field that the community can be
proud of," Kesler said.
The softball squad will hit the field tommorrow, competing in
Pool C of the Madison County Softball Leadoff Classic, taking
on Elbert County at 4:30 p.m. and Monroe Area at 8 p.m.