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AUGUST 28, 2002


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Leopards to face Patriots Fri.
The beginning of the football season has arrived and the Leopards are about as ready as they’re going to be.
“Everybody is fired up and ready to get started,” head coach Greg Moore said. “We’re just ready to play.”
The Leopards start up their season against a mysterious Oglethorpe team Friday in Lexington.
Finding out anything substantive about the Patriots this year is next to impossible.
Oglethorpe has not scrimmaged with any other team and few people know much about their new coach from Alabama.
“Our only problem is that we don’t have a clue about what they are doing,” Moore said.
Oglethorpe’s new head coach, Cody Keene Sr., said he feels that being a new coach in the area will be more of a disadvantage to him than to his opponents.
“It puts us at a disadvantage because we don’t know what to expect from Banks County either,” Keene said.
Keene did watch the Leopards scrimmage at Athens Christian and said he has seen some game film on them.
“They’ve changed things up a little since last year,” he said. “To me, being a new coach is a disadvantage.”
The Patriots will stack up against the Leopards with a team that went 1-9 last year.
They will also be working for their first time in a game situation with a new system that Keene brought in.
However, the Pats do return several key players and are rumored to have speed.
Keene was modest about the team’s quickness.
“I don’t know that our team speed is that great,” he said. “We do have a couple of kids with some speed.”
Keene also brings in his son, Cody Keene Jr., as a starting senior quarterback.
“He’s got some experience,” Keene Sr. said. “He is a two year starter but this will be his first start at Oglethorpe County too. But I’m confident with him back there.”
As far as the Leopards go, they will still be without key players Nick McKinzie and Tim Ballenger, who are nursing injuries.
Oglethorpe’s Keene added that he has been impressed with several Banks County players he has seen on film and at scrimmages, including full back Seth Brownlee and lineman Kris Drummond.
He also said he thought Reggie Smith would line up well against his team.
“Reggie Smith looks good in a suit,” Keene said. “We don’t have anyone that looks that good in a suit.”
Smith scored one of the Leopards touchdowns during last week’s scrimmage at Athens Christian, pulling in a short tight end pass from Tyson Baxter.
Banks also scored one defensive touchdown on a Corey Morris interception and got a junior varsity score on Bradley Angel’s 70-yard jaunt.


Tiger Softball Team Wins Four Of Six, Looking For More Offense
With his team nabbing four wins in six games in the season-opening Oconee tournament Saturday, Tiger softball coach Donnie Drew said his squad has a solid start from which to build on.
But at the same time, he warns that there’s still a lot of work to be done in that construction process.
Despite scoring 60 runs in the tournament, offense remains the main concern.
“We’re going to have to hit better up and down the lineup,” he said.
The coach pointed out that the bulk of that run total came thanks to 23-4 and 23-1 plasterings of Heritage and Salem, two teams which were plagued with shaky defenses.
“I told the players that the other teams were helping us and making us look better than we really are,” he said.
Drew instead pointed the team’s showing against what he thought were the quality squads in the tournament—Jackson County, Jones County and Oconee.
Commerce fell to both Jackson and Jones while topping Oconee by two runs.
“I think we found out that when competition is tough, we’ve got to be tougher than what we are,” he said.
Drew said he now has a better idea of where the team is heading with six games under his belt but added he was going to reserve judgment until the conclusion of Sept. 14’s Jackson County tournament, the next event on the Tigers’ slate except for a tentatively scheduled double header at Heritage on Thursday at 5 p.m.
With the long layoffs on the schedule, Drew said keeping the team’s intensity level up throughout the season could be a challenge.
“It’s going to be hard to maintain concentration with the way the games are scattered out.”
COMMERCE 23,
HERITAGE 4
The Tigers took advantage of some Heritage control problems, opening the season with 23 scores in a 19-run rout of the Patriots.
Stephanie Rainwater led Commerce at the plate with a four hit day. Ashley Evans, Mashenta Hester, Samantha Ingram, Whitney Brown and April Stephenson all added three hits each.
Katie Wilbanks picked up the win from the mound.
Commerce held a 4-1 edge after an inning and a 10-4 lead after two before erupting with 13 scores in the final two innings.
COMMERCE 23,
SALEM 1
Again facing a squad with control problems, the Tigers topped the 20-run mark for the second consecutive game, trouncing Salem 23-1 in just three innings.
Commerce needed only two innings to score the 23 runs, burying the Seminoles with 12 runs in the first inning and adding 11 more in the second.
Salem notched their lone run in the third and final inning.
Evans led Commerce with three hits, while Hester, Wilbanks and Jamie Allen added two.
Lauren Lance picked up the win.
COMMERCE 2, OCONEE 0
Commerce outlasted host Oconee 2-0 to picked up their third win of the tournament, scoring a run in the first and another in the sixth.
“It was a good defensive game,” Drew said. “Neither team hit the ball very well.”
Wilbanks notched her second win of the tournament while Rainwater led the team offensively with three hits while Hester and Lance added two.
JONES COUNTY 16, COMMERCE 9
Commerce squandered a 6-0 third inning lead in a seven run loss to Jones County, their first setback of the 2002 season.
The Greyhounds erupted midway through the contest, erasing the Tiger lead with two runs in the third, four in the fourth, five in fifth, four more in the sixth and another in the seventh.
“We did not hit nor play decent defense this game,” Drew said.
Rainwater and Hester each had two hits.
COMMERCE 12, ROCKDALE 7
The Tiger nabbed their fourth win of the day with a five-run win over Rockdale County.
The win assured the team of at least a .500 mark in the tournament, but Drew didn’t sing the team’s praises in the victory.
“We won but we didn’t play well,” he explained.
The Tigers enjoyed a fast start grabbing an 8-0 lead in the second inning. But the Bulldogs answered with six scores to trim the lead to just two.
Commerce secured the win in the final inning though, scoring four times in the fourth and holding Rockdale to a single run in the bottom half of the inning.
Rainwater again lead the team offensively, collecting three hits, while Hester, Jena Fields and Summer Hutchins had two.
Jennifer Pope recorded the victory from the mound.
JACKSON COUNTY 13, COMMERCE 1
After notching the contest’s first run, Commerce was bombarded with 13 unanswered scores from tournament champion Jackson County in the day’s final game.
Drew said the game all came down to putting the bat on the ball.
“We played a good team that was aggressive who hit the ball,” he said. “We were not aggressive and did not hit the ball.”


Panthers prowling Bulldoggs
After weeks of preparation both on the field and off, the 2002 high school football season begins Friday as JCCHS hosts Winder-Barrow at 7:30 p.m. at Panther Field.
Foremost on the minds of the Panthers will likely be the 35-0 trouncing they suffered last season at the hands of the Bulldoggs.
During that game, senior running back Antwain Riden had a huge performance, finishing with four touchdowns, 266 all-purpose yards and 103 yards rushing on just five carries.
Should Jackson County turn the tide on Winder-Barrow this season, they will most certainly have to contain Riden. But according to new head coach Brent Brock, the Panthers are not going to over concern themselves with stopping Riden, instead they will look to focus more on what they need to do as a team.
“If you spend too much time eye-balling one running back, or if you dwell on one thing too much then you end up shooting yourself in the foot,” he said. “You end up hurting yourself more than you help yourself.
“It’s more about us,” he added.
Much like the Panthers, who hired Brock last spring to head up the football program, Winder-Barrow will also be beginning the season under the tutelage of a new head coach, Brian Allison.
“There’s a lot of excitement in both communities right now because of the coaching changes,” Brock said.
Unlike last season, Brock said the Bulldoggs are more multi-faceted on offense, yet another reason why his team will not be focusing solely on Riden.
Allison inherited a group of players with only five starters from a season ago, but one that boasts a junior-heavy lineup that should prove to be very formidable, according to Brock.
Coming off a 1-9 season last year Brock hopes to make his mark on the Panthers by changing attitudes and focusing on the little things, something that will begin Friday night.
“This coaching staff and this team are going into every game with the attitude that we can win,” he said. “If not, then we ought not even step on the field,” he said.


Dragons’ demanding schedule begins Friday with ‘Cats
Talent, speed and experience are three things that come to mind when describing the Apalachee Wildcats, and if the Jefferson Dragons hope to win their first game of the season they’re going to have to overcome all three of those attributes Friday.
The Wildcats come calling to Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. and according to Jefferson coach Bill Navas, the Dragons have their work cut out for them if they want to start the season 1-0.
“They’ve got a good football team,” he said. “They’ve got a group of players that have been together for three years and they’re extremely athletic.”
The Wildcats, favored by many to contend for top honors in Region 8-AA, return 10 starters on offense and nine on defense, something that the Dragons will have to overcome despite only returning four starting players on their side.
But, Apalachee head coach Brian Moore said he is expecting a fight and although his squad is experienced, he noted that depth could be a problem for his team.
“Jefferson’s got a good football team. They’ve got some players over there that can definitely hurt us,” Moore said.
Wide receiver/free safety Will Jackson is the most dangerous of several talented skilled players on the Apalachee team, as he poses an all-purpose threat no matter where he is on the field. Quarterback Mike Odie and running back Bobby Duncan will also have to be contended with.
For the Dragons, the team concept will look to counter the star-laden Wildcats.
“For us to be successful we’ve got to be efficient in our assignments and disciplined,” Navas said. He also indicated that his team will look to control the clock and run an effective offense based on a strong running game.
“The run does concern us,” Moore admitted. “But their quarterbacks do throw the ball well too and we’re well aware of that. It’s going to be a challenge.”


Gridiron time
The last time Madison County and Franklin County clashed on the gridiron, most of today’s Raiders were still playing flag football on the elementary school play grounds.
Friday night, the two old, near-by rivals will finally reacquaint themselves after a seven-year layoff.
Given the hiatus, the teams will naturally be unfamiliar with each other.
“We really don’t know much about them,” Raider coach Tom Hybl explained.
Much has changed on the Lion sideline since they topped the Raiders 7-3 in September of 1995.
Franklin County has been through two head coaches since Jeff Davis stepped down in 2000 after two decades at the helm in Carnesville.
With Bobby McAllister leaving after a 1-9 campaign last year, Danny Durham took over the reins of the program this spring and now has the chore of resurrecting a Lion program which made the second round of the playoffs just two years ago.
While the years and changes have made the teams unfamiliar with each other, both sides express a mutal respect when discussing what they do know about the other.
“They looked really physical and have some excellent athletes,” said Hybl who’s only got a glimpse of the Lions in scrimmages. “They’ve got a new coach and a new attitude. This is probably the worst time for us to be playing them.”
Durham described the Raiders as “a team on the rise.”
“Madison County has a good club. They’re very competitive,” he said. “Over the past few years they’ve had some great teams. We’ve got to be at the top of our game.”
For Durham, Friday night contest will be another step in the transition process—a process which he said has gone smoothly.
Durham seems to have a solid foundation to build from in his first year with Franklin County sporting 60 players in their program and 14 seniors this season.
And not to be forgotten is a handful of impressive players he has at his dispsoal.
The Lions feature a tandem of standouts on both sides of the ball in tailback/defensive back standout Terry Blackwell, who gained 842 yards on the ground last year, and the athletic Amonzo Gant who’ll lineup at reciever and defensive back.
Franklin County has also settled on a signal caller—Tyler Evenson—who earned the starting nod to run Durham’s wing-slot option offense.
Other standouts on the team are linebacker Donovan Layton and jack-of-all trades Derek Chitwood who can play either quarterback, reciever or defensive back for the Lions.
Durham’s debut will see facing a Raider team needing a season-opening win to kick start what promises to be a more challanging non-region campaign.
But for Madison County to be successful Friday, Hybl said his team needs to overcome some preseason question marks, starting with the squad’s play in the trenches.
“We’ve got to improve upfront offensively and defensively.”
Hybl said his linemen showed some improvements in techinque during their scrimmage with Morgan County last Thursday, but lacked the effort he was looking for.
Hybl added he hoped everything would come together for his team with the stakes being for real this weekend.
“Everything changes when you’re playing for keeps on Friday night.”


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LOCAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULES/RESULTS

  Banks County
  (0-1-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/30 at Oglethorpe Co 18-21
9/13 Commerce -
9/20 Wesleyan -
9/27 at Buford -
10/04 Apalachee -
10/11 at Dawson Co. -
10/18 Rabun Co. -
11/1 at GAC -
11/8 Lumpkin Co. -
11/15 at Union Co. -

  Commerce
  (0-0-0)
Date Opponent Score
9/6 Franklin Co. -
9/13 at Banks Co. -
9/20 at Morgan Co. -
9/27 Lincoln Co. -
10/11 Madison Co. -
10/18 at Athens Acad. -
10/25 Athens Christ. -
11/1 at Towns Co. -
11/8 Jefferson -
11/15 at Social Circle -

  Jackson County
  (0-1-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Winder-Barrow 0-34
9/13 at Clarke-Centl. -
9/20 Eastside -
9/27 at Salem -
10/11 at Newton Co. -
10/18 Heritage -
10/25 Rockdale Co. -
11/1 at Habersham Cen. -
11/8 Loganville -
11/15 at Cedar Shoals -

  Jefferson
  (1-0-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Apalachee 27-19
9/6 Union County -
9/13 at Lumpkin Co. -
9/20 at Landmark Christian -
9/27 Monticello -
10/11 Athens Christ. -
10/18 Towns Co. -
10/25 at Social Circle -
11/8 at Commerce -
11/15 at Athens Acadm. -

  Madison County
  (0-1-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Franklin Co. 6-7
9/6 at Hancock Cent. -
9/13 at Athens Acad. -
9/20 Monroe Area -
9/27 Jefferson Co. -
10/4 Grayson -
10/11 at Commerce -
10/18 Northview -
11/1 Buford -
11/8 Cross Keys -


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