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May 15, 2002

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Leopards continue spring pigskin workouts
Moore reports good practice. With one week already behind them, the Leopard football team is poised for a second week of spring practice.
Head football coach Greg Moore said the first week went well and expects to get more practice on fundamentals in this week.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Moore said.
Moore said close to 50 of the 60 kids who came out at the first of last week have stuck with the team. The Leopards ended the season last year with 37 football players.
Moore also said that Banks’ offensive line is adjusting well to new coach Joby Scroggs.
“He has got them working hard,” Moore said. “He’s a great addition to our staff.”
This week will be the Leopards’ last week of spring practice allowed by the Georgia High School Association. Banks County will be able to begin practices again in late July.

Spring Practice Going Smoothly Says Savage
With his team entering the second week of spring practice, Commerce Tiger head coach Steve Savage said things are still moving along smoothly in workouts for his squad.
“It’s gone pretty good,” said Savage, who is entering his 14th year at the helm of the Commerce football program.
The spring season will conclude this Friday.
The team has been working out since last Monday and practiced in pads since last Tuesday.
The coach estimated that “about 50” players have been participating in the 10-day spring session.
Offensively, Commerce has been sticking to the basics, but is taking some time to add a new wrinkle or two.
“We’re doing the same things we’ve always done but we’re trying going about it a little differently,” Savage said.
The coach said the team has even tried out a new formation.
“We fooled around a little bit in the shotgun....It might give us a little different opportunity and a chance to exploit a defense.”
Savage added the team has gotten a good look at their three signal callers during the spring—Josh Haynes, Caleb Jordan and Dennis Wilder.
“We got to take a look at our quarterbacks and they’ve all had good springs,” Savage said.
Defensive work has has been strictly conventional, focusing on technique.
“We’re working on tackling and working on our feet,” Savage explained.
For now, Savage said the team is trying to focus on getting the players in shape and working on skills. Work on team aspects of the game will come in the summer.
“We really haven’t concentrated on the team yet,” Savage said. “Team strength will be one of our strong points, but we’re just trying to work on our feet and our quickness and we’ll worry about the team in the summer.”
Though recent weather hasn’t been pretty recently, it wasn’t until Monday that Savage said the wet conditions “ran the team off the field.”
Commerce is currently coming off a 7-5 season in 2001. The team will kickoff their season Sept. 6 against Franklin County at home.

Diamond Dragons overcome rain, silent bats to advance in state playoffs
All the equipment may be wet and his nerves may be shot, but Jefferson baseball coach Chuck Cook guided his team to the second round of the Class A state playoffs with a 2-1 series win over Bremen last week.
The Diamond Dragons were scheduled to host Athens Academy in a round-two doubleheader Wednesday afternoon. If a third game is needed, it would be played in Jefferson Thursday at 3 p.m.
Athens and Jefferson have both been ranked among the state’s best all season, and Cook said earlier this week that the Spartans would present a major obstacle for his team.
“Athens is a good team. They’ve got better pitching than Bremen. We’ve got to cut down on our walks; the people they’ve beaten in their region have given up 8, 9, 10 walks in each game, so they really work your pitcher.
“I think we’ll respond well, and come out and play a good series. The teams we’ve faced that have better pitching are usually the ones we hit well.”
If Jefferson can get past Athens, the Dragons would travel to either Calvary Baptist or Wilcox County Monday - and Tuesday if needed - for round three.
The series with Bremen was soggy in more ways than one.
A sixth-inning storm forced an early end to game two with Jefferson down 2-1, and forced postponement of game three Friday after three innings.
But the Dragon bats - consistently the team’s strongest asset this season - were more soggy than the field.
Josh Nabors walked and stole second to set up Tyler Murphy’s RBI single in the first inning of game one, but the Dragons were held in check for the next two innings.
Chris Seibert and Ryan Gurley both walked in the fourth before Nabors dropped in a bloop single to plate another run. Kyle Potts followed with a single to make it 3-0.
Murphy jumped all over a Bremen pitch in the sixth, driving it over the fence in center field for a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, in the field, the always-strong Potts had one of his best games on the mound. The senior hurler held Bremen scoreless on two hits through six innings, but a double and two Jefferson errors pushed a run across in the seventh.
Things had become interesting with Devils at first and third and a three-run lead, but an infield out ended the threat.
Potts finished with an incredibly low pitch count of 68 through seven innings.
“Kyle did a great job,” Cook recalled. “His pitch count would have been in the 50s if not for those two errors at the end. That’s unheard of for seven innings.”
Jefferson missed numerous opportunities to blow the game open, leaving the bases loaded three times and stranding 11 runners through six innings. The lack of offense would go on to threaten an early end to the team’s playoff run.
Christopher Wheaton pitched well in game two, striking out three and walking just one through six innings, and both teams’ bats were relatively silent.
Jeremy Smith recorded one of just seven Jefferson hits to score a run in the third inning, but a fourth-inning home run and fifth-inning score gave Bremen the 2-1 lead after five.
The sky began to darken midway through the game, and a stout wind began to whip the dust off the infield late in the fifth. With his 3, 4 and 5 hitters due up, Cook could only watch as a sudden downpour and lightning forced an early end to the game.
“Christopher did a great job in game two,” Cook said, “but we didn’t hit the ball well.”
Game three looked to be a pitcher’s duel Friday, with neither team able to record a hit through three innings before lightning again forced postponement. The game was restarted Saturday.
Jefferson picked up two runs in the first inning off a single by Smith, but the Devils claimed the lead with a run in the second and two more in the third.
Potts - who was available due to his low pitch count in game one - came on in relief in the third and gave up three straight hits before shutting Bremen down for the final four innings.
With his team down 3-2, catcher Brian Wells lined sharply through third base to lead off the sixth, and pinch-runner Chris Kinsey took second base off a passed ball.
The momentum shifted Jefferson’s way when Seibert attempted a sacrifice bunt. With the Bremen first baseman charging, the second baseman failed to cover the bag, and Seibert reached safely. Ryan Gurley was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Ben Songer came through with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and Brantley Gilbert contributed what Cook called “the hit of his life”, bouncing the ball off the third-base bag and into left field for a two-run double.
Potts recorded three of his five strikeouts in the final two innings, and the Devils were done.
All three remaining Region 8-A teams were eliminated in round one. Walker defeated Wesleyan, Adairsville downed Buford and Gordon Lee eliminated Lakeview Academy.

Jeffers’ gem pushes Raiders past Lions in series clincher
Just two years ago, freshman pitcher Ben Jeffers was mowing little leaguers over at the rec. dept.
Saturday, the youngest member of the Raider varsity squad demonstrated similar form against one of the better AAA high school outfits in the state.
Madison County rode the strong right arm of their freshman starter into the second round of the state tournament with Jeffers hurling a complete-game gem in a 3-2 win over Central Carroll.
Armed with a mitt-popping fast ball and a lively curve, the young Jeffers displayed veteran poise in the clutch, working seven innings, surrendering two runs off five hits, fanning eight and walking four in the rubber game of the first round of the AAA state tournament.
“You’ve got to be proud of the kid,” Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth said. “He’s worked all year and has a good arm.”
Jeffers admitted to having some early-game jitters but said he had two of his three pitches working for him in the win.
“My fastball was getting across the plate and my curveball was breaking…my change up wasn’t really there,” he said. “…I just took it inning-by-inning.”
Griffeth said Jeffers’ improved curveball was a key in his strong outing.
“That’s kind of been his down fall but he threw a little better one,” he said.
While Jeffers did his part on the mound, heroics from the plate came from the bats of Tony Tittle and Travis Calloway, who both slammed homers to account for all three of Madison County’s runs.
Griffeth said many players stepped up in the dramatic marathon series against the Lions.
“A lot of kids grew up some more...They had every chance to fold up the tent but they didn’t,” the coach said.
With the contest scoreless in the bottom of the third, Tittle gave the Raiders the biggest hit of his two-year varsity career, drilling a two-run homer over the left field wall with Michael Young on first base to give Madison County a 2-0 edge.
Tittle initailly showed bunt during the at bat, but was given the green light with a 2-1 count. The strategy paid off as Tittle collected his first round-tripper in a high school uniform.
“It was great…I’m grinning from ear to ear,” Tittle said after the game of the long ball.
Calloway’s blast then came in the fourth and gave Madison County some needed insurance.
After the Lions trimmed the lead to 2-1 with a run the top of the inning, the sophomore swatted the first pitch of he saw over the left field fence to give the Raiders some breathing room with a 3-1 lead.
With a two-run cushion, Jeffers breezed through the fifth inning, surrendering only a walk.
However, but his poise was tested over the next two innings.
Central Carroll put runners at first and third with only out in the sixth, but Jeffers and the Raiders escaped the inning with the lead still intact, trading a run for a ground out and then getting another groud out to short stop.
Then came an even unnerving seventh.
Jeffers struck out the leadoff man in the inning but hit a batter and gave up a single to Alex Parker, again putting a runners on first and third with one out.
However, in what might have been the key play of the game, Jeffers forced Lion Slugger Jason Parker to fly out to shallow center field, keeping the tying run at third base.
Then, first baseman Dustin Dinsmore wrapped up the game, making a perfect scoop on Trey McCay’s low throw from third off Seth Parkers’ grounder to for the final out of the contest.
A Raider mob quickly ensued in the middle of the diamond after the put out.
Like a heavyweight boxer, Central Carroll answered Madison County with its own knockout punch in the second game of the series, as Parker Duffy smacked the walk-off, game-winning homer with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The homer capped off an epic battle that lasted nearly five hours and included two rain delays.
Madison County staked an early 8-0 lead, scoring four runs in the first and second innings. The first inning rally included doubles by Stephen Seagraves and Dustin Dinsmore and singles by Travis Calloway, Trey McCay and Jonathan Pou. The Raiders tacked on four in the second on singles by Chris Burroughs, Brent Burkhalter and Seagraves, followed by a towering three-run blast over the left field fence by McCay to put Madison County up 8-0. While the Raider offense was rolling, Seagraves continued his solid pitching, keeping Central Carroll off the board for the first three innings of the game.
Raider fans showed their elation, but ominous clouds loomed to the south, with occasional lightning flashes in the distance. The game was stopped for about 15 minutes, but then play resumed long enough to allow McCay to snag a liner and double up a Central Carroll runner on third base in the second inning.
Play was stopped again in the third inning and Raider players, parents and fans anxiously waited for the rain to stop so play could resume. They didn’t want to see an eight-run Madison County lead nullified by canceling the game and starting over the next afternoon.
The rain fell, but the skies cleared 30 minutes after play was halted and the sun shone bright on the field, with some pointing to a rainbow in the distance. But the superstitious soon realized that the sign was not a positive one for the Raiders.
Madison County loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth but failed to score.
Then, Central Carroll quickly erased all hopes of a Madison County rout. The Lions posted eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning off of four Raider pitchers — Seagraves, Burkhalter, Thad Pruett and Ben Jeffers — to tie the game, 8-8. Central Carroll then took the lead, 9-8, on a solo homer in the fifth.
However, Madison County never caved in. Seagraves ripped a line-drive single to right to score Eric Power in the sixth. The Lions offered a gift, balking home the go-ahead run to put the Raiders back on top, 10-9. Madison County then loaded the bases with one out but managed no more runs in the inning as two Raiders struck out.
Central Carroll answered with a sacrifice fly RBI and a run-scoring double to go back on top 11-10 in the bottom of the sixth.
But Madison County knotted the score in the top of the seventh on an RBI fielder’s choice by Seagraves to drive home Adam Nash, who was hit by a pitch.
The Raider defense then took the venom out of several Central Carroll threats as the game extended into extra innings. Central Carroll loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, then loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, before putting runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth, failing to score each time.
Madison County’s survival included strong pitching from Burkhalter and quality Raider fielding, particularly from shortstop Power, who fielded a soft grounder that dribbled past the pitcher’s mound in the eighth and gunned the ball to first to get the Raiders out of the jam and keep the Raiders in the game.
The Raiders broke a three-inning scoring drought in the top of the 11th when Burkhalter hit a soft grounder to third and the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing Michael Young — who had reached on a single — to score the go-ahead run.
Dinsmore came in to pitch in the bottom of the inning. But Central Carroll tied the score at 12 on a bases loaded walk. Duffy then hit the game-winning homer.
Central Carroll’s Ross Manley nailed a solo homer with two outs in the top of the eighth inning Friday to put the Lions up 5-4 in the series opener.
But Madison County’s Trey McCay trumped Manley’s heroics, slamming a two-run, game-winning home run over the right field fence, then circling the bases and leaping on home plate as he was mobbed by teammates.
Central Carroll jumped out to a 4-0 lead Thursday after three innings of play, but in a contest that set the tone for the rest of the wild series, the Lions lead wasn’t safe.
Madison County rallied for two scores in the fourth and then tacked on two more in the fifth to knott the game at four.
A dark clouds approached Red Raider field, Madison County got two quick outs in the sixth before Dinsmore surrendered three singles. However, the senior pitcher escaped the jam and kept the game tied by forcing a flyout to center field.
Shortly after, play was halted and the rains came, washing out the final two innings and postponing the rest of the contets till Friday.
The Lions got on the board first in the second inning Thursday with a sarfice fly to center field to score a run from third.
Central Carroll’s Seth Parker then added two more insurance runs with a two-out RBI single, pushing the lead to 3-0.
Manly pushed the lead to four with one swing of the bat, hitting a solo shot to right field in the fourth.
But the Raiders chipped away at the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Burkhalter walked and advanced to third on two wild pitches. He then scored off an infield single from Travis Calloway cutting the lead to 4-1.
Pou followed two batters later with a two-out bloop single to bring home Seagraves, closing the gap to two runs.
The Raiders then evened the game in the fifth without the benefit of a hit.
Both Michael Young and Adam Nash drew walks and later moved to second and third off a wild pitch.
Young then scored the Raiders’ third run of the night when he came home on an infield error on a grounder by Burkhalter.
Madison County added the tying run a batter later when Seagraves hit into a fielder’s choice, bringing Nash home from third.

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