Area Sports...

October 16, 2001

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Dragons rediscover winning touch against Oglethorpe
After two consecutive loses, Jefferson needed a win.They got it at home Friday night against Oglethorpe County, 42-20.
The Dragons will try for their fourth win of the season Friday at Memorial Stadium, when the Eagles of Landmark Christian come to town. Long known for their speed (Landmark has won the Class A boys' track championship six years running), the Eagles are 4-1 on the year, their only loss a 7-6 decision at Adairsville two weeks ago. Landmark has recorded wins over Wesleyan, Gordon-Lee, Bremen and Madison County, Ala.
Toward the end of last week's scoreless first quarter, the Dragons were beginning to breathe fire down Oglethorpe's neck. When the clock ran out in the first quarter, the Dragons were at fourth and goal.
The second quarter started with the Dragons scoring their first touchdown of the game. When Jefferson regained control of the ball they fumbled it to the Patriots, but regained it on the next play when Oglethorpe fumbled back. Running back Courtney Wiley outran the Oglethorpe defense for 57 yards to score another second-quarter touchdown.
In the third, Wiley scored his second touchdown for the Dragons, making the score 19-6. Quarterback Kyle Potts then ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point converstion, putting Jefferson on top by 16 points.
Wiley went on to score a 65-yard touchdown in the third, with Montrey Riley adding another to the Dragons' total, making the score at the end of the third 35-6.
In the fourth, Jefferson started the action off with a 63-yard touchdown by Tyler Murphy. Jefferson allowed Oglethorpe two touchdowns in the fourth to make the final score 42-20.
For the game, Potts completed 13 passes out of 18 attempts for a total of 142 yards. He also had six rushes for a total of 41 yards.
Wiley rushed 13 times, adding 104 yards to his record.
Blake Gooch received three of Potts' passes and picked up 53 yards. Ryan Gurley came in with 5 catches and 44 yards gained.
Jefferson dominated in total offense. For rushing, the Dragons were 39 for 323, while the Patriots only ran 25 times for 176 yards.

Gordon says goodbye to softball
His name is synonymous with slow-pitch softball in Banks County.
"I look around and I don't know of any coaches that have coached softball since it started at their school," coach Mike Gordon joked. "It's been a fun process for me. I just feel like I don't have the same energy level I had 20 years ago."
In 1978, slow-pitch softball started in Banks' region. Gordon, who had helped coach several women's teams, agreed to start the team at Banks County High School. At first, he wasn't paid a coaching supplement for the job but voluntarily began building a softball powerhouse.
"I enjoyed softball," he said. "I felt like we could be successful, and I had a lot of experience with the sport. At the time, my oldest daughter was also playing at the rec. department."
Now, 25 seasons later, Gordon is retiring from teaching and, ultimately, coaching. Last week, he coached his final slow-pitch softball game, and after basketball season, his coaching career will end.
"I will miss the emotional part of the game," Gordon said. "The highs and the lows do a person good. Leveling out your emotion is bad for you. I'm going to miss that intensity of the battle."
Banks' slow-pitch softball program could be ending at the same time Gordon stops coaching. With the introduction of fast-pitch in Banks County this year, fast-pitch may take over at the varsity level next year, ending a successful 25 years of slow-pitch softball. Gordon has compiled a 362-179 record since 1978.
His teams won the region championship 11 times in the 1970s and '80s. In 1982, the Lady Leopards won first in the region in the spring. After the season, the Georgia High School Association made softball a fall sport. Gordon's team continued where it had left off, winning the region in the fall of 1982.
The Lady Leopards also finished runner-up five times.
"We were a powerhouse in the '80s," Gordon said. "We were expected to win the region each year. In 1990, the GHSA made it illegal for varsity coaches to work with softball at the rec. department level in the spring. That hurt my program. That's when the dynasty ended."
Banks County has also had its share of history in the state tournaments. In 1983, the first year of the state softball playoffs, the Lady Leopards finished as state runner-up. Banks finished third the year after. Gordon has made it to the final four four times and the elite eight five times.
"I really remember two impressive seasons," Gordon said. "In the fall of 1983, we were state runner-up. They put up a tremendous performance. In 1985, I started seven freshmen, and we came from a 1-5 start to win the region championship."
A coach can learn and see a lot in 25 years of coaching.
For Gordon, the experience was no different. He's seen players come and go. He's seen the kids of those players come and go. And he's learned a lot about a generation different than his own.
"I think coaching removes the generation gap between the teacher and the kids," he said. "When you get to associate with the kids in an environment different than the classroom, you become more closely connected with how they think and behave. People say this generation is going to the dogs. They may have different ways, but I still see some real good people around here."
Gordon said his interaction with players as a coach has carried over into the classroom.
"The kids I coach give me a little more respect in the classroom," he said. "Not many coaches teach subjects like math or science. But I show my players that I will go in the classroom every day and try to do my best job teaching math, just like I expect them to do their best job on the court. It's a two-way street."
And in just a few short months, Gordon will end his long drive as a coach. He hasn't made final plans for post-retirement, but he may stay close to the education field and tend his farm.
"Next summer will be my first summer off," Gordon said. "In 31 years of teaching, I've never had a week's vacation. Me and my wife are going to take a week to travel out West. It's the first we've gotten to do that."
And as Gordon gets ready to step down, he leaves a small piece of advice for future coaches.
"Be sure you're totally committed," he said. "If you want to be a coach, you've got to be willing to work at it."

Panthers host Loganville Friday
Turnovers demolish JCCHS at Eastside.
The Jackson County Panthers will host Region 8-AAA opponent Loganville (1-4/1-2) Friday at Panther Field. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
The Red Devils have suffered convincing losses to Decatur, Buford and Stephens County, and were surprised three weeks ago by Franklin County, 19-10. Loganville's sole win was a 28-21 decision over Winder-Barrow.
"It really surprised me for them to lose to Franklin County and then turn around and beat Winder-Barrow the next week," Panther head coach Greg Lowe said of the Devils. "I have a lot of respect for Loganville; they'll come in and be a formidable opponent. I hope our guys come out and represent us well on Friday."
Though they looked dominant at times and were down just 14-7 near the end of the first half, Jackson County fell to 0-4 last week with a 47-7 loss at Eastside. The Panthers coughed the football up seven times in the game, three times on the first play of a drive.
Eastside got on the board on its second possession. Jackson County's Chris Kubiak made a touchdown-saving tackle on the Panther 12-yard line after a 40-yard pass play, but the Eagles rambled in soon after to make it 7-0.
Kubiak returned the kickoff 27 yards to near midfield, and quarterback Bradley Wilson connected with Chris McGeary to move into Eagle territory, but a solid hit from an Eastside defender jarred the ball loose, and the Eagles took possession.
The drive wouldn't last long, though. Panther Jordan Breit made an open-field tackle on a third-and-four toss sweep left to force a punt.
Jackson County looked to be on its way when Wilson found Kubiak for a 14-yard gain to the Panther 40 on third-and-four, but a crucial sack stalled the march.
The two teams swapped punts before yet another Panther drive got off to a good start. Breit broke through for an eight-yard gain on first down, and Travis Parks followed with a five-yard run to move the chain, but Eastside came up with another sack and another fumble recovery to choke the Jackson County offense. Less than a minute later, Eastside was in the end zone again, up 14-0.
Breit rose to the challenge again, sparking the Panther offense with a huge run up the middle to the Eastside 18. Three plays later, on third-and-10, Kubiak made a highlight-reel leaping catch at the Eastside three-yard line in double coverage. Vernon Brown scored moments later, and Preston Shiflet added the point-after to make it a 14-7 contest.
But despite what looked to have been a momentum-shifting drive, Jackson County would not reach the end zone again. With four minutes remaining in the half, the Panthers got the ball back, not knowing that the tone of the game was about to change.
Jackson County fumbled the ball away on its first play of the drive, and Eastside capitalized with a quick score. After the kickoff, the Panthers again fumbled on the first play of the drive, and the Eagles again grabbed the opportunity, stretching the score to 28-7 just before the half ended.
"We gave them a short field," Lowe said of the turnover near the four-minute mark. "Then we came right back and put the ball on the ground and gave them a short field again."
Compounding the problem were injuries to a number of starters, including first-string center Brian Gower. Gower aggravated an ankle injury on Jackson County's touchdown drive and would not return to the game. Quarterback Bradley Wilson suffered a bruised knee in the second half, and Travis Parks spent the second half on the bench with an ankle injury. Running back Brandon Shields and tight end Chuck Kubiak were both unavailable due to injury.
Gower and Parks are both listed as doubtful for this week. Wilson should return, and Shields and Kubiak may both be ready to return.
"Injuries just killed us," Lowe continued. "We're pretty deep into our depth chart all over the place in the backfield."
After the intermission, Wilson and Kubiak hooked up again, this time for a 25-yard gain on third-and-eight, but the Eagles again picked up a sack with good penetration to stall the drive. McGeary punted the ball dead at the Eastside 14, but the Eagles moved 76 yards before missing a 27-yard field goal attempt.
Whatever signs of life Jackson County was still showing evaporated in the final 15 minutes.
Breit broke another strong run to the Panther 35, and a 15-yard penalty moved the ball to midfield, but Eastside picked off Wilson and returned the ball 60 yards for a touchdown with three minutes left in the third quarter.
After a Panther punt, Eastside marched 61 yards for another score, a third-and-11 pass across the middle capping the drive to make it 41-7. Jackson County lost the ball again on its next play from scrimmage, and the Eagles scooped it up for an easy defensive score for the final of 47-7.
Brown tried to help end the night on a positive note, fighting for gains of 10 yards on third-and-11 and 12 yards on fourth-and-one, but a sack for an 18-yard loss was followed by an interception with under a minute to play. The ball was returned to the Panther 18, but a clipping penalty brought it back to the Eagle 20, sparing Jackson County from enduring another Eastside score.

The Tiger Road Gets Tougher
Tigers To Face Washington-Wilkes After 34-7 Loss To Athens Academy .
Washington-Wilkes isn't exactly the best gridirion remedy for a team who suffered a 27-point loss the previous week.
But that's what Commerce's homecoming matchup will throw at them this Friday on the heels of a 34-7 loss to Athens Academy last weekend-their worst defeat in five years.
"It's a tough game to try to come back and rebound in," Commerce head coach Steve Savage said. "We learned a valuable lesson last week. That's why we play tough people. You won't ever know what you're deficient at unless you play tough teams."
And Washington-Wilkes, the 2000 AA state runner ups, is one of the those tough teams.
"They're mighty good and well coached," Savage said whose team fell to Washington-Wilkes 49-27 a year ago. "They're big-that might not be the right word for them-they're huge. But I think that our kids will take that as a challenge."
While Savage has plenty of praise for Commerce's upcoming opponent, Washington-Wilkes head coach Frank Vohun said things haven't gone as smoothly for his AA preseason number two-ranked squad as he would have hoped.
The team dropped their first two games of the year to North Springs and Thomson before rallying for three wins.
"We lost our two first games," said Vohan, whose team posted a 14-1 record a year ago, losing 14-0 in the AA state championship against Americus. "It just took us awhile to get thing together."
Like Commerce, the team is a young outfit, graduating 13 players off last years' squad.
While the team may be green, they'll still throw the same brand of smashmouth football at you according to Savage.
"They'll stick it to you right between the tackles," said Savage, adding that Washington-Wilkes' Power Wing-T offense features a strong corps of running backs. "They'll run it straight at you."
Vohun said his offense is anchored by a pair of offensive linemen-Skylar Perlotte and Mercy Falaise and said his defense is led by linebackers Clint Willis and Brandon Wheatley and strong safety Debargia Tofer.
Vohun said he expects a "dog fight" in the matchup with Commerce and laughs at the talk that the black and gold Tigers are in the midst of a down year.
"Coach Savage has gone to the Vince Dooley school of poor mouthing his team," Vohun joked. "I've know him for too long...When is he going to figure out that I don't believe it?"
Vohun then offered his own assessment of Commerce.
"They'll get after your fanny," he said.

Crunch time
25-5 Raiders set for state sectionals after grabbing area title
The object is simple - win two before you lose two and pack your bags for the state finals in Columbus.
But there are plenty of girls anxious to throw a kink in Madison County's travel plans.
Madison County, 25-5, will open the state sectional tournament at Heritage Park in Madison (Morgan County) Saturday at 11 a.m. versus Cedartown. If the Raiders win that game, they will play again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Chamblee-Eastside game. Should Madison County lose Saturday morning, the squad will face the loser of the Chamblee-Eastside game at 2 p.m.
The Raiders are looking to add a new chapter to an already remarkable year.
Some didn't expect the Raiders to make a strong showing this season after the loss of most of the 2000 starting squad to graduation, but Madison County has shed any "wet behind the ears" label. The team roared through the Area 8-AAA regular season with a 12-0 record and capped that off with an area tournament championship in Danielsville Saturday. Madison County also made a trip to Columbus early this season to face some of the top fast-pitch teams in 4A and 5A, winning three of five in the brutally tough Shaw Invitational.
Raider coach Doug Kesler has confidence his team can fare well this weekend, but he doesn't want his team to get big-headed over the successes they've had in 2001.
"If we play to our level in both games (this weekend), we've got a good chance to win two," said Kesler. "But we could lose two just as easily."
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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  Banks County
Date Opponent Score
8/31 at JCCHS 12-7
9/7 Jefferson 7-35
9/21 Dawson Co. 0-28
9/28 at East Hall 0-28
10/5 GAC 0-48
10/12 at Apalachee 0-30
10/19 Lumpkin Co. -
10/26 at Union Co. -
11/2 Rabun Co. -
11/9 at White Co. -

Date Opponent Score
8/31 Franklin Co 29-13
9/7 at Forsyth Ctrl 14-35
9/14 Morgan Co ppd.
9/21 at Walhalla, SC 35-24
9/28 at Lincoln Co 13-12
10/5 at Ath Acad 7-34
10/12 Wash-Wilkes 26-49
10/26 Wesleyan -
10/2 at Jefferson -
10/9 Buford -

  Jackson County
Date Opponent Score
8/31 Banks Co 7-12
9/7 at Madison Co 7-35
9/14 at Elbert Co ppd.
9/28 Hart 3-51
10/5 at Eastside 7-47
10/12 Loganville 0-47
10/19 at Franklin -
10/26 Winder-Barrow -
11/2 Stephens Co -
11/9 at Monroe Area -

Date Opponent Score
8/31 Athens Christian 40-6
9/7 at Banks Co 35-7
9/14 at Johns-G'ville ppd.
9/21 Madison Co 11-14
9/28 at Social Circle 21-28
10/5 Oglethorpe Co 21-6
10/12 Lndmrk Christ 23-14
10/26 at Buford -
11/2 Commerce -
11/9 at Wesleyan -

  Madison County
Date Opponent Score
8/24 South Forsyth 0-17
9/1 Apalachee 36-3
9/7 Jackson Co 35-7
9/14 at North Hall ppd.
9/21 at Jefferson 14-11
9/28 Warren Co 14-7
10/5 Union Grove 35-6
10/19 at Wesleyan -
10/26 at Union Grove -
11/2 Athens Christian -
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