Area Sports...

September 5, 2001

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Dragons rout Athens Christian, 40-6
The Jefferson Dragons came into last week's game with Athens Christian as heavy favorites, and it didn't take the Dragon offense long to show why.
Sophomore running back Courtney Wiley took the handoff from quarterback Kyle Potts on the Dragons' first offensive play and broke out on a 58-yard run to give his team the early lead.
But Wiley was just getting warmed up. The fleet-footed Dragon would go on to pick up 159 more rushing yards and three more touchdowns in Jefferson's 40-6 blowout of the Eagles.
"There was some expectation for him to do that," head coach Bob Gurley said this week. "He's still not quite there as far as picking up his blocks, but he's gotten a lot stronger and bigger. People are going to start keying on him now. He's going to have to learn to just take whatever he can get."
Wiley's performance certainly drew some attention, as several reporters either showed up for Monday's holiday practice session or tried to contact Gurley, hoping for a chance to talk to the sophomore sensation. He was named player of the week by both News Channel 32 and the Athens Banner-Herald.
Even aside from Wiley's running show, the Dragons were a sound football team in virtually every aspect of the game, at least in the first half.
Fellow sophomore offensive backs Brandon Vinson and Stephen Wiley each added 53 yards rushing to Wiley's 217, as Jefferson finished with 350 yards rushing on 27 carries.
Potts was solid in the backfield as well, completing seven of 11 passes for 78 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Blake Gooch in the first quarter.
The Dragon defense swallowed up whatever offensive efforts the Eagles put forth in the first half, allowing only 51 rushing yards on 22 carries and 15 yards passing. The Jefferson secondary caught more ACS passes than the Eagles did, picking off two.
Ryan Gurley grabbed an interception in the first quarter, and Daniel Love came up with a pick in the end zone to end Athens Christian's only scoring threat of the first half. Even that drive was mostly a gift, as ACS recovered a fumbled punt return attempt at the Jefferson 20. Still, the Eagles could only move to the Dragon 13 before Love's interception on fourth-and-three just before the half ran out.
Dragon linebackers spent an impressive amount of time in the Eagle backfield, particularly junior Jeremy Smith. On special teams, senior Jason Martin blocked an ACS punt and classmate Tyler Murphy scooped the ball up for an easy score.
"We had a good team performance," Gurley said of the win, "but there's still too many kids who don't lay it on the line every play. Until we do that, we won't be a good football team."
Up next for Jefferson will be a trip to Banks County. The Leopards are coming off what could be considered an upset win at Jackson County, 12-7, in head coach Greg Moore's Banks County debut.
"They're good enough to beat us," Gurley said of this week's opponent. "We're going to have to play to beat them."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Homer.

Leopards scratch Jackson
Banks defeats Jackson 12-7 in season opener. Banks' defense was hitting on all eight cylinders last Friday as the Leopards helped themselves to a 12-7 victory over Jackson County.
"The defense played extremely well," said coach Greg Moore, who took his first win as a head coach. "They got after the ball and hustled."
In the end, it was the Leopards' defensive stance that helped them win their first game in five tries.
"It was real important to win that game," Moore said. "I was glad we won, but it was more important that we played hard and played well."
Jackson County took the opening kickoff in the contest and drove the ball 54 yards inside Banks' five-yard line. But as they approached the end zone, the Panthers fumbled and Seth Brownlee recovered the loose ball to give Banks control.
Several possessions later, Jackson County took a punt from the Leopards. Two plays into the drive, Tyson Baxter caused the Panthers to fumble the ball back to Banks County on Jackson's 24-yard line.
The Leopards went on an eight-play, 24-yard scoring drive topped off by Brownlee's short run in for the score. He had 20 carries for 137 yards on the night.
"Brownlee played well on both sides of the ball," Moore said. "He's a workhorse."
Following Brownlee's touchdown run, Banks County couldn't get off the point-after attempt, giving them a 6-0 lead with 10:37 left in the first half.
Jackson responded with a nine-play, 56-yard touchdown drive capped off by Travis Parks' one-yard run. The Panthers sank their PAT to go up 7-6 with 5:09 left in the half.
But after Jackson's only score, the Leopards would shut down the Panthers' defense. Jackson County had only two first downs in the remainder of the game.
The Leopards scored the winning touchdown with 7:18 left in the game. After forcing Jackson County to punt, the Leopards took over on their own 42-yard line.
Banks capitalized on the running game to move the ball down within seven yards of the goal. On second down, quarterback Bill Krause took the ball to give the Leopards a 12-7 lead. The Leopards failed on the two-point conversion attempt.
"Krause's leadership skills impressed me the most," Moore said. "He took control on the field."
After the touchdown, the Leopards kicked off to Jackson County. The Panthers returned the ball into Leopard territory and started driving.
Jackson got down to Banks' 31 yard line before senior Nick Baker stepped through the Panther line and sacked the quarterback for a nine-yard loss.
Jackson ran a toss sweep then a short screen pass to get up to the 26 yard line. But the Panthers couldn't produce on a fourth and five play, and the Leopards took over with 3:14 left in the game.
Jackson County got the ball back once more with under a minute to go. The Panthers completed one pass and threw another incomplete one. On the next play, David Creasy snuck into the backfield to sack the quarterback. Jackson County threw one more incomplete pass as the game ended.
"I was real glad we won that one," Moore said. "I thought we deserved to win."

Turnovers kill Panthers, 12-7
"Our kids know what they want to be, and what we saw Friday night was not what they want to be."
So Jackson County head football coach Greg Lowe summed up the Panthers' performance in last week's 12-7 home loss to Banks County.
"I think we got outplayed," Lowe continued, "but we have every plan to go over and perform well at Madison County. I think our kids are a different bunch of kids now."
In order to compete Friday, the Panthers will need to have the A game they apparently left at home last week.
"Madison County is real physical," Lowe said of this week's host. "They're going to come off the ball and get after us. Execution is the main thing. We've got to do what we're supposed to do."
Lowe said that though Monday's practice session may have begun with the memory of Banks County fresh on his players' minds, it ended on a high note.
"I was pleased at the way we finished up practice Monday. I can handle my mood, but I'm not the one who goes out there between the lines. I think our kids have a better attitude after Monday."
A 4-1 turnover ratio destroyed Jackson County's chances against Banks last week. The Panthers' first possession began on a good note, with Brandon Shields breaking a 50-yard run deep into Leopard territory, but a fumble on the next play ended the threat at the Banks County three-yard line. That fumble would be just the first of three Panther turnovers in the first quarter.
"That was real big," Lowe said of the early miscues. "We also had two of three starting running backs go down early, and those guys also play outside linebacker. We ended up playing with kids who haven't had very many reps in practice . . . But we've got to give credit to Banks County; they just came over here and outplayed us."
Still, the Leopards had trouble converting the Panther fumbles into points, until the third one, which they recovered at the Jackson County 24-yard line. Banks County took eight plays to find the end zone, but missed the point-after and took a 6-0 lead.
Jackson County responded with a nine-play, 56-yard drive for its own score, and the PAT gave the Panthers a 7-6 lead.
The Panther defense that forced Banks County to punt on its first three possessions came up big near the half, stopping a Leopard drive inside the Panther one-yard line to preserve a 7-6 lead going into intermission.
Chris Kubiak picked off Leopard quarterback Bill Krause on Banks County's second-half opening drive at the Panther 19, but Jackson County coughed up an interception around midfield on the next play.
Just as they'd done late in the first and early in the second quarters, Banks County took 10 plays in the last of the third and early fourth quarters to drive 58 yards for a touchdown. The Leopards' two-point conversion attempt failed, setting the eventual final score of 12-7.
Jackson County was able to reach the Banks County 26-yard line on its next drive, but would never get closer to retaking the lead.
"We'll learn from it," Lowe said of the loss, "and go on from there. It's a big disappointment for all of us."
Leading tacklers for the Panthers were Chuck Kubiak (10 first hits, 7 assists) and Casey Berryman (6 first hits, 3 assists). In addition to his interception, Chris Kubiak batted another pass away, caused a Banks County fumble and had two first hits and one assist.

Taking Care Of Business
Commerce Gets 121 Yds. From Jennings In Rout Of Franklin Co.
No Monté. No Michael. No problem so far.
The Tigers' star tailback-quarterback tandem may be gone, but the agenda for Commerce was still the same against Franklin County Friday night -wear down the foe with a strong running attack and then burn them with the ocassional pass.
The team got 250 yards and two scores out of the backfield and added another touchdown through the air in a 29-13 home win over the Lions.
In all, it was a solid way for a young group to begin the 2001 season.
"I was really pleased with the effort we gave Friday night," head coach Steve Savage said. "We had a lot of folks in there for the first time."
In a contest that introduced many new faces, one of most impressive emerging from the backfield was junior Brandon Jennings.
Though the running back never touched the ball last year, Jennings didn't seem to be plagued with first-game jitters Friday, responding with 121 yards on eight carries and breaking the game open with touchdown runs of 39 and 29 yards.
But the ground game wasn't the only thing that the Tigers brought to the table in the contest.
The team's new signal caller, senior Rob Brown, also showed that foes will have to keep an eye on the Tigers' air game, picking up 77 yards on three completions, including a 30-yard touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive unit had some bright spots as well, shutting out the Lions for three and a half quarters while holding the team to only 221 yards in total offense and creating two turnovers.
"I thought we did all right (defensively) but we had some first-game problems," Savage said. "But I thought we played hard."
While Commerce might have had several new players, the team showed signs of maturity-in the first half especially. The squad took control of the contest in the first eight minutes and carried a three-touchdown lead into halftime.
Offensively, it didn't take long for the Tigers to find their footing, drawing first blood with a nine-play scoring drive.
Ironically, it was their only mishap of the series that punched in the intial score.
The Tigers picked up the touchdown after Lamar Daniels fumbled the ball into the end zone where senior offensive lineman Adam Bagwell emerged from a pile of Tiger and Lion players with the pigskin to put his team up 6-0. Brown added a two-point conversion to put the team up by eight.
Commerce then showcased its passing attack on the next touchdown drive with Brown hitting a wide-open Jonathan Beasley for 43 yards before going to the air and finding Kyle Moore on a touchdown strike to give the Tigers a 15-0 lead with 6:29 left in the second quarter.
"I think we're a team that can throw the football a little bit," Savage said of the team's passing game. "We've to some good receivers. None of them are game-breakers but they've got good hands."
Game-breaking would be left to the Commerce running attack. After L. Daniels gave the ball to the Tigers with an interception on the Franklin 43, Jennings took a handoff three plays later, broke right and scampered 29 yards down the right sideline to fatten the Tiger edge at 22 points with four minutes left in the half.
"I thought Brandon did a good job at tailback," Savage said of the junior who averaged 15.1 yards a carry in the win. "We were pleased with him."
Jennings pleased coaches a bit more when the team took the field in the second half.
On the fifth play on the Tigers first drive of the second half, the untested tailback struck again, again taking a hand off and breaking right, but this time breaking a pair of tackles and dashing 39 yards to paydirt.
With the game in hand up 29-0, Commerce inserted the second string defense and Franklin responded with two scores-a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tyler Evanson and a five-yard score by tailback Terry Blackwell.

Back on track
The Raiders controlled the trenches, the clock and the score Friday, earning their first win of the young 2001 season.
Madison County topped Apalachee 35-3 in Danielsville, grinding out 287 yards on the ground and bouncing back from a 17-0 loss to South Forsyth the previous week.
Fourth-year Raider coach Tom Hybl said his team showed more grit against the Wildcats than against the War Eagles.
"The kids played harder and showed a little more effort and heart," said Hybl, comparing his squad's performance in the second game to the opener. "That was a big improvement for us."
Leading the Raider charge was junior running back Tony Freeman, who carried the ball 26 times for 142 yards.
Senior quarterback Jonathan Pou also turned in a strong performance, completing all three of his passes for 22 yards, breaking free for a 19-yard quarterback keeper and leading the team on defense at defensive back with six tackles and five assists.
"That (the tackling numbers) shows he was flying around the ball," said Hybl of Pou. "He had an excellent game on both sides of the ball."
The coach also praised the play of Richard Stowers and Chris Wiley.
"We saw improvement from several of our guys," said Hybl.
Madison County's scores came on a one-yard Freeman touchdown run in the first quarter, a 25-yard Freeman run in the second period and a two-yard Stowers run shortly before the half. In the third quarter Madison County scored on a one-yard pass from Pou to Tony Tittle and followed with its final points in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run by Stowers.
Apalachee's lone points came with 10:37 to go in the second quarter on a 24-yard field goal.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Jouranl.


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