Area Sports...

August 22, 2001

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Dragons to host Panthers Friday in scrimmage
Though they're separated by less than a mile as the crow flies, the Jefferson and Jackson County football teams couldn't be further apart. The distance will narrow this week, as Greg Lowe and his Panthers visit Jefferson's Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. preseason scrimmage.
Admission to the event will be $4, and gate receipts will be split between the two schools after costs.
The format calls for four nine-minute quarters, with Jefferson on offense in the first and third. There will be a short halftime, probably nine to 10 minutes, according to Dragon head coach Bob Gurley.
"It kind of depends on the weather. We'll take a little more time if it's real humid."
Gurley said his team's second scrimmage will allow the Dragons the opportunity to improve on some trouble spots that were evident during last week's scrimmage with Apalachee.
"It [last week's scrimmage] basically gave us a real good idea of some things we needed to work on this week to correct some mistakes. We'll work on our mistakes and look at our guys again on film and see how they respond this week."
Expectations have been high since the close of the 2000 season for Jefferson's offense in 2001, and the team didn't disappoint against Apalachee.
The Wildcats started with a 65-yard touchdown off a toss sweep late in the first quarter, but Jefferson's offense took control from there.
Quarterback Kyle Potts connected with Ryan Gurley for a 70-yard touchdown on the Dragons' second play from scrimmage.
Courtney Wiley picked up 20 yards on a big play early in Jefferson's second drive, setting up the BG-BG connection. Quarterback Brantley Gilbert double-pumped and found Blake Gooch open for a 55-yard strike into the Wildcat end zone. Quarterback Daniel Love came on moments later and hit Gooch for a 30-yard gain on Jefferson's third drive.
In the third quarter, new Dragon Tyler Murphy broke out for a 70-yard run up the middle to the Apalachee five yard-line, but Jefferson later fumbled to end the drive.
Jefferson's third-string defense held Apalachee in check in the fourth, recording a number of sacks despite allowing a 60-yard touchdown run. The play was called back due to an Apalachee penalty.
"We threw the ball real good and ran it good at times," Gurley said. "We had a few miscues, but that was to be expected. I thought we protected the quarterback fairly well, and they threw the ball fairly well."

Lady Panthers rock Glads in fast-pitch debut
In the first-ever varsity fast-pitch softball game in Jackson County, the Lady Panthers rolled over visiting Clarke Central last week, 14-0. Jackson County jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.
The Lady Panthers got two hits each from Krista Bess, Kayla McNeal, Stephanie Stancil, Shana Gibbs, Diana Robinson and Haley Freeman. McNeal and Bess also had two RBIs each, and Freeman knocked in three.
Pitcher Brandi Townsend allowed only one hit in the game, and struck out 10 batters.
Jackson County also took its first loss last week. Social Circle ­ the team Lady Panther assistant coach Ricky Sanders said could be the best his team will see this year ­ downed Jackson County, 9-1.
"We were down 2-1 in the fifth inning," Sanders said, "when we had a couple of errors and they had a couple of hits. We just didn't come ready to play, . . . We missed some scoring opportunities, and could have taken the lead early in the game."
According to Sanders, Social Circle features a pair of NCAA Division I prospects.
"They're beatable, but if you don't come ready to play, you can't win."
Jackson County got back on the winning track Tuesday with an 11-6 victory over Franklin County. The win started the Lady Panthers at 1-0 against teams within their area.
The Lady Panthers will travel to Hart County Thursday, and host Stephens County next Tuesday. Both are area opponents. Another area game is on tap for next Thursday, when Madison County visits Jackson County.

Lady Leopards to open area play Tuesday
Banks downs East Hall in opener. With the season just getting under way, the Lady Leopards' slow-pitch softball team is about to head into area competition.
"We're working on our game every time out there," head coach Mike Gordon said. "We're going to try to improve with our four games this week before start in the area games."
The Lady Leopards are still working to improve on a young team.
"I've been happy with our progress so far," Gordon said. "We're making mistakes but we're improving on them. We're just taking it one week at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time. But I think we'll get there."
Banks will open area competition next Tuesday at home against Elbert County at 5 p.m. Thursday, Banks County will host Union County in a doubleheader at 4:30 p.m.
"Union County is always a good softball program," Gordon said. "We won't just get anything from them."
In action over the weekend, the Lady Leopards finished 1-3 in Jefferson's slow-pitch softball tournament. Banks fell in its opening game to Buford Friday and lost to East Hall Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon, the Lady Leopards took a 9-2 win over Temple.
"On Saturday, we hit the ball a little better," Gordon said. "In the games where we started out hitting the ball, we played better defense. In the other games, we had one bad inning that got us."
Banks County was put out of the tournament after losing to Fannin County later Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Leopards opened their season with a come-from-behind victory in the first game of a double- header against East Hall Thursday.
"I was very well pleased Thursday," Gordon said. "We made some mistakes in that first game but we came back to score some runs late and win."
Banks County took a quick 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Both Maggie Elrod and Wynonna Parson had two-run inside-the-park home runs in the inning.
East Hall took a 7-6 in the top of the second inning. But Banks came back in the third to tie the game.
In the top of the fifth, East Hall scored another run to take an 8-7 lead. Banks responded in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of its own.
Elrod knocked in two more runs in the inning before Jennifer Webb singled in another runner.
But East Hall took the lead over again in the sixth inning, jumping up 11-10. Banks again put three more runs on the board to go ahead 13-11.
Jessica Rogers hit a ball off the centerfielder's glove to score three runs in the innings.
East Hall was able to tie the game in the seventh to send play into extra innings. In the eighth, the Vikings scored on a two-out grounder to go ahead 14-13.
Janet Crutchfield opened the bottom half of the eighth with a single into right. Reona Nash followed with a grounder to the pitcher. Crutchfield was able to beat the throw to second to put runners on first and second.
Two batters later, Nicole Powell hit a line drive to the wall to score two runs and seal the Lady Leopards' 15-14 victory.
East Hall was able to hold off Banks County to take an 8-4 win in the second game.

Commerce Set To Scrimmage Athens Academy Thursday
After beating up on each other for nearly three weeks in summer practice, the Commerce Tigers will get their second chance of the preseason to knock headgear with someone else.
The Tigers are set to pop pads at home in a Thursday night, 6 p.m. scrimmage against Athens Academy-a team they'll meet during the season on October 5.
It will be their second scrimmage in less than a week as the team worked out against Rabun County for over an hour this past Friday.
Commerce head football coach Steve Savage said the scrimmage against the Spartans won't be about getting a sneak preview of the third-ranked team in Class A, but rather allowing his players to log valuable practice time against an opponent.
"We're just looking to get a lot of guys on the field-we're a young team," Savage said, pointing to the fact that during the Rabun County scrimmage they only had three seniors on offense and defense. "That's why we lobbied for these scrimmages because we thought it would help schools like ours."
In the scrimmage, the team will get an equal look at both the offense and defense.
Savage said the teams would get 36 minutes of game clock, allowing Commerce to have the ball for 18 minutes, while playing defense for the other 18.
Thursday's scrimmage will be a bit longer than Commerce's previous 24-minute workout against Rabun County-a scrimmage with which Savage said he "was pleased with a lot of things."
"It gave us a chance to go against someone else and get it on tape," Savage said Friday after the work out against Rabun.
The coach pointed out several individual efforts, saying he was impressed with the play of Adam Bagwell at tackle; quarterbacks Rob Brown and Josh Haynes; Nick Cox at fullback; Brandon Jennings at tailback and safety; and Casha Daniels at linebacker.
Offensively, Savage said the team simply ran a scripted set of plays they wanted to work on while adding that he was "satisfied with some things they did defensively."
While the the coach said there were many positives to draw on from the Rabun scrimmage, he pointed out that the team didhave some problems getting lined up.
The team will have just over a week left of practice after the Athens Academy scrimmage with the squad set to meet Franklin County at home September 1.

Ready for an encore?
Madison County Raiders hope to repeat success of 2000
"A release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit." - The American Heritage Dictionary.
The 2000 Raider football season was certainly that - cathartic. There was the confetti tossed high above raised helmets after the final victory, the voices that gave out from joyous yelps, the scoreboard lights telling stories of triumph.
Last year was certainly like no other in Madison County football history. The Raiders' 10-0 stint under a non-region schedule surprised many.
So will Madison County have the formula for an encore?
Perhaps. The Raiders have some guys returning who've shown ability.
There's Tony Freeman, the Raiders' leading returning tackler, who slammed into people at times last year like a runaway U-Haul. Others were impressive as well, such as the sure-footed kicker Scott Dills or powerful Richard Stowers and Dustin Walker. Jonathan Pou and B.J. Johnson came up with big plays as well.
Raider head coach Tom Hybl said his squad should be solid in the trenches.
"We should be pretty decent up front on both sides of the ball, but we're inexperienced at our skill spots," said Hybl.
Gone from last year's team is star running back Donny Stamper, who set apparent school records in several rushing categories in 2000. The Raiders will need a back with some explosiveness to fill Stamper's absence. Hybl will look to guys like Freeman, Richard Stowers, Johnson, Dante Montgomery and Kevin Cash to move the ball down the field. Pou will lead the team at quarterback.
Other Raiders who will see significant playing time include Tony Tittle, Chris Luera, Steve Austin, Edward Price, Matt Kittle, Brandon Hayes, Chris Wiley, Walker, Josh Moyer, Robert Geiger, Stephen Tippins, Dills and Anthony Tilton.
"We've got about 17-18 guys on both sides of the ball," said Hybl.
While last year's perfect run creates optimism for 2001, there is also a caveat: The surprise Raiders are no longer a surprise. Their success this year will be expected.
Madison County will face the same eight teams this season, but Hybl said the schedule may prove more difficult than last year.
"Everybody we play is going to be much better than last year," said Hybl. "We have to be better or we won't be able to compete with some of them."
The fourth-year coach noted that South Forsyth, this week's opponent, will provide a tough challenge.
"They're starting 21 seniors," he said of South Forsyth. "They'll be as good a football team as we see all year."
Unfortunately, Madison County won't enter Friday's contest at full force. The season has yet to begin, but the Raiders are already nursing battle wounds, with five guys sidelined with injuries: Matt Collins, Mike Allen, Matt Baker, Corey Jones and Kalan Mason.
"Injuries have been a big problem for us," said Hybl, who also noted the summer heat as a problem in preseason preparations. "We'll dress out 41 to 42 guys."
Hybl pointed out that Madison County has not lost a home game since Oct. 29, 1999, to Class AAA state champion Oconee County. He urged parents, students, teachers and fans to fill the bleachers Friday and create a hostile environment for South Forsyth Friday.
"We need the crowd to give us a homefield advantage," said Hybl.
Note: Hybl said he is tentatively planning some JV games, but the contests could be canceled if the number of players available drops. Madison County has struggled in recent years to field enough players for a JV team.


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