Area Sports...

OCTOBER 23, 2002

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Leopards get week off to rest before GAC
If coach Greg Moore had his way, the Leopards would have had their off Friday last week.
“It would’ve been nice for a week off after a win,” he said. “After a loss like last Friday, you’re ready to get another game in.”
Banks (1-6, 1-4) gets its second open date of the season this week. Afterwards the team will head back onto the gridiron to face Greater Atlanta Christian in Norcross.
The Leopards have been unscathed so far this season. They won’t be using the off date to rest up any players, as major injuries have managed to escape the team this year.
“We’ve been lucky so far,” Moore said. “We’ve had some minor injuries, but nothing where we’re going to hold kids out.”
The off week gives the Leopards a chance to evaluate how the year has come along. With the season 70 percent gone, Banks has only three more games in which to notch more wins.
And though Banks’ record may not indicate such, the season has gone more successfully than last year.
With seven games complete in 2001, Banks had an identical record to that which they now hold, 1-6. However, by this time last year, the Leopards had scored only 19 total points on three touchdowns. They also sat at ninth in the region standings and was in the midst of a six-game shutout.
But at the same point this season, Banks has already scored 58 points on nine touchdowns. They also sit at seventh in the region, ahead of Dawson and Union.
After the Leopards come off the bye week and face GAC, they’ll have one home game remaining with Lumpkin County. They’ll finish up the season in three weeks against a struggling Union County team in Blairsville.

Savage: ‘We’re Moving On’
Don’t expect Commerce to be throwing itself a pity party on the practice field this week.
After a disappointing 14-10 loss to Athens Academy Friday in what might considered the school’s biggest upset suffered in the past few years, the Tigers were on the prowl in their return to the workouts Monday in preparation for region foe Athens Christian.
“Those who have been around Commerce football long enough know exactly what kind of practice we had Monday,” he said. “The players came out and had a good attitude and worked hard. And that’s exactly what I expected them to do...We’re moving on.”
The first step in that “moving-on” process for Commerce is getting back into the region race after taking a back seat in 8-A with the loss to the Spartans.
The Tigers (5-1, 0-1) will try to even their region mark when they host the Eagles (2-5, 0-2 in 8-A) in the first meeting between the nearby schools.
Eagles’ head coach Van Beacham isn’t exactly relishing his team having to play what could be a Commerce team not in the best of spirits given last week’s upset.
“This would not be at the top of my Christmas list, playing Commerce after a loss,” Beacham said. “I’m sure they’ll be fired-up and ready to play and ready to annihilate a different Athens team.”
While Commerce had a damper thrown on its region title hopes with the loss to Athens Academy, Athens Christian is a program simply trying to survive in a new environment.
The private school spent the majority of their history in GISA play (Georgia Independent Schools Association) before moving to the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) ranks in 2000. This season is Athens Christian’s first in GHSA region play.
At 2-5 this year, the team owns wins over Whitefield Academy and perennial-doormat Glascock County while the team suffered lopsided losses to Oglethorpe County, Lincoln County and Jefferson before falling to Social Circle 12-0 last week.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Beacham said. “...We can see that the schedule is much tougher this year than last, but when you’re trying to build a program that’s a way you make yourself better, playing tougher teams, and that’s especially the case for us the next couple of weeks against Commerce and Athens Academy.”
But Savage thinks the Eagles are a team on the right track this year.
“They’re a good football team,” he said. “They play hard—play hard every snap. They’re right on the verge of winning.
Savage said he expects the Eagles to present problems on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Athens Christian is led by sophomore quarterback Nick Dalton, receiver Josh Pennington, and running back David Tripplet
“They’ve got a good quarterback, good receivers and they’ve got a good offensive scheme,” Savage said.
The defense is anchored by free safety Brian McLauren, the team’s leading tackler, Tripplet, who doubles as a defensive back, linebackers David Roberts and Randall White and defensive lineman Stephen Jackson.
Savage described the Eagles defense as one that likes to roll the dice.
“Defensively, they ramble and the gamble and they stunt...They’ll give us some problems,” Savage said.” ...I like their linebackers and I like their defensive front.”

Old nemesis strikes again, ends season sour note
LOGANVILLE—It may not have been the type of ending the Jackson County fast-pitch team was hoping for this season, but one thing remained certain in the eyes of their coach Mark Mahoney following the team’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Madison County last Thursday—they are better now than they were at the beginning of the season.
And, what’s more is that they are undoubtedly better than they were two years ago, despite losing in the area tournament to the Raiders.
However, that doesn’t mean that the pill will be any easier for the Lady Panthers (16-7) to swallow now that they know their season has ended without reaching a goal set in August of making it back to sectionals for the second-straight season.
Instead, the team and its followers will have to spend a year knowing that although they earned the top seed from the North, and claimed their first sub-area title this year, their most bitter rival moved on this post season. ‘What happened?’ said many from the tournament’s site in Loganville.
It’s a question that dominated the thoughts of every Lady Panther after they dropped the opening game of the area tournament on Oct. 12 to Newton. Despite the setback of having to play in the loser’s bracket because of the loss though, the team came out emotionally in their second game against Winder-Barrow on Oct. 16, knowing a loss there would end the season.
A solid performance followed and 11 runs later the team had dispersed of the Lady Bulldoggs for the third time this year, and suddenly their swagger was back.
But, despite the triumph, it would be the team’s old nemesis that would provide the fatal blow in the following contest.
“It’s always a tight ball game, which is good though,” said Jackson County coach Mark Mahoney. “You know it’s a good rivalry and hopefully next year (will be different).”
Madison County jumped out to a two-run lead in the bottom of the third, when Lindsay Barnette belted a two-out single to left off of Lady Panther ace Brandi Townsend.
But, come top of the fourth, Townsend would help her own cause, as she tied the game with a redeeming home run to left that shot out of the ballpark and tied the game at two.
After thwarting a fifth-inning bases-loaded threat by Madison County in the fifth, Townsend and her team saw what some might call fate take its course in the bottom of the sixth.
Following a lead-off single by Candace Shubert, followed by a fielder’s choice ground-out, Jackson County first-baseman Diana Robinson threw the ball away after a questionable call at first let frustration take its course. While attempting to throw the ball back to Townsend with runners on the corners, the errant toss got by Townsend and rolled down the third baseline. Before the Lady Panthers could blink, Shubert had crossed home plate and suddenly Jackson County knew they had just given the Raiders the go-ahead run.
“We got upset because we got a bad call at first and we just got lackadaisical. I think we were very upset and we just threw it down on the ground,” Mahoney explained. “We just kind of fell asleep. I’d rather get beat by a home run than that,” he added.
A quick, non-threatening top of the seventh and suddenly that was it, a great season had come to an end.
“I just said thank you,” Mahoney said after the game.
The team should be strong again next year, however, as the squad loses just one player, senior Hannah Freeman.
“Hannah will be sorely missed,” Mahoney said. “She was, of course, the first senior (in the two years of fast-pitch), a great leader and it’s going to be a tough position to fill.”

Playoff Bound
Last Friday’s region clash between Jefferson and Towns County was a meeting of two teams headed in opposite directions from the opening kickoff onward, as the Dragons dominated the first half and bombarded the Indians on the ground en route to an easy 41-14 win.
“We came out ready to play, that was the good thing about it,” Jefferson coach Bill Navas said.
The victory, which was the team’s third-straight win, clinched a playoff berth and put them in first-place in Region 8-A.
Ready to play they were. With leading rusher Jeremy Smith sidelined because of an ankle injury on senior night, the Dragons saw several key players raise the level of their games to make up for the loss of over 150 yards on the ground per game.
Brantley Gilbert and Wesley Satterfield proved they were each up to the challenge and the Dragon offensive front dominated a big, but ineffective line from Towns County.
Satterfield was a dominant force out of the Dragon backfield early, as the freshman tailback filled in nicely for Smith, pounding out 91 yards on eight carries, including three of Jefferson’s four first quarter touchdowns.
Jefferson took advantage of a Towns County fumble on the opening kickoff, scoring quickly on the short 22-yard field that was provided to them.
Following a Gilbert 12-yard scamper, Satterfield shot through the line and scored from 10 yards out on a run up the middle. A Ben Songer extra point gave the Dragons a 7-0 lead after just two plays and 16 seconds into the game.
The Jefferson defense then held Towns County without a first down for their first five possessions, while the offense clicked with precision. Satterfield scored again on the next Dragon possession, this time a 14-yard touchdown with 9:36 remaining in the first quarter. Later, after Montray Riley added a five-yard score of his own on the next drive, Jefferson led by three touchdowns after running just 10 total plays to start the game.
From there the rout was on as Satterfield added his third score and senior Hunter Garner another, while Gilbert provided the night’s longest run from scrimmage soon after, as he went 72 yards to make it 41-0 with 4:37 remaining in the first half.
Towns County struggled mightily all night, even in a second half that saw most of the Dragon starters on the sidelines. With the Jefferson second team in, the Indians were finally able to reach the end zone, as Jared Wright finished a seven-play drive by the Indians to start the second half.
Jefferson’s second team failed to score in the final two quarters, but it mattered little as the Indians could only muster a late drive that resulted in the final score of the game with 0:28 seconds remaining.
The win marked the third-time in as many games that Jefferson had steamrolled past an opponent with little in the way of resistance, a streak that began with a 16-point homecoming win over Monticello on Sept. 27 followed by a 32-0 thumping against Athens Christian on Oct. 11.

Making it to next week
The AAAA fast-pitch postseason can best be described as a battle of the fittest. And Madison County’s softball team has lived to fight another day.
With a pair of wins in the area tournament last week, the Raiders have secured a spot in one of the two 16-team state sectionals this weekend, marking their third straight trip to the state tournament.
Madison County will now have to face 5-AAAA top-seed Clarkston in the opening round of sectionals play Friday at 4 p.m. in Lost Mountain.
A win will pit the team against the Marist-Woodland winner while a loss would pair them in the losers’ bracket against the loser of that contest.
Raider coach Doug Kesler said his team simply has to keep on surviving now that it’s moved on to play the state’s elite.
“On any given day, any body can beat anybody,” Kesler said. “If we play well, we can beat anybody down there. We’re just trying to make it to the next week.”
Making it to next week, would mean the team would be one of the top four finishers out of their sectional. Those four teams will advance to meet the remaining four squads from the other sectional in the state championship tournament Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Columbus.
“I told the girls, ‘you’re one of 32 AAAA teams left playing softball,’” Kesler said. “Hopefully after this weekend, we’ll be one of eight teams left. It would be a great accomplishment.”
The team earned its pass to the state sectionals by topping Loganville Saturday in the opening round of the area tournament and then getting past Jackson County Thursday after falling to Heritage a day earlier.
The team had to settle for the fourth seed at sectionals though after losing to Loganville Thursday night in a rematch in the tournament seminifinals.
However, Kesler said his team might be in as solid a position as a low seed with its matchup against Clarkston.
While his team’s first-round opponent is armed with a solid pitcher in Brittany Smith, Kesler said his team should be competitive with the top- seeded outfit, pointing out that tournament low-seeds Stone Mountain and West Lake both beat Clarkston during the regular season.
“I think we’ve got about as good a matchup as we could have hoped for,” he said.
Having the proper perspective is perhaps the key for the Raider team right now as they enter into a new phase of the softball season.
“I told them, every week this is a new season,” Keslers said. “Whether you’re 30-0 or 15-15, it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares what you’ve done to this point.”
Standout pitcher Katie Griffith kept Madison County off the scoreboard Wednesday, handing the Raiders their first loss of the area tournament.
Raider pitcher Sarah Tippins threw four innings of shutout ball, keeping the Patriots off the board in the second through fifth innings.
But Heritage rallied for three first inning runs on three hits, before blowing the game open in the sixth with five runs.
Madison County got hits from Sarah Owen and Candace Shubert.
Madison County’s state-tournament clinching win Thursday over Jackson County was doubly-sweet, first because of the postseason implications, and secondly because it settled a score.
It was the Panthers after all, who snapped Madison County’s 29-game area win streak during the regular season, taking the number one seed out of the sub-area from the Raiders.
“It was big in the fact that we had to win the game to advance to state,” Kesler said. “And it being Jackson County—who we’ve established a good rivalry with—it compounded that fact. The girls were satisfied to after eliminating Jackson County.”
After missing a golden opportunity to score a go-ahead run against Jackson County in the fifth inning Thursday, Madison County employed some small ball in the sixth inning, earn the eventual deciding score.
With the score knotted at two, Candace Shubert charged home after Jackson County’s first baseman missed fired on a simple throw back to home plate to put her team up by a run.
Lindsey Barnette then retired the Panthers in order in top of the seventh to seal the win.
Madison County jumped on top in the scoreboard in the first inning with an RBI single from Laura Baird.
Barnette then helped her own cause in the bottom of the third with a two-out RBI single to give Madison County a 2-0 edge.
That lead however was erased in the top of the sixth when Panther standout Brandi Towsend drilled a two-out home run to knot the game at two.
After outlasting Jackson County by a run in the previous game, Madison County had little left for its following-round matchup with recent-rival Loganville.
The Red Devils scorched the Raiders for seven runs in the third inning en route to a 9-1 win over Madison County, avenging a 2-0 loss to the Raiders in the first round of the area tournament.
The two schools, which met in the AAA state final last year, have split four matchups on the softball diamond this year.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with an RBI single, Loganville went for the jugular in the third, pounding out seven hits in taking an 8-0 lead.
Madison County answered with only one score which came in the bottom half of the third when Owen took home from third on a Shubert steal to second base.
Loganville added another run in the top of the sixth.
Sarah Tippins started with game but didn’t make it past the third inning, surrendering eight runs and giving way to Barnette.
Barnette worked through the fourth inning before she was relieved by freshman Cassidy Pridgen who surrended one run over the last three innings.

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  Banks County
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. 20-48
11/1 at GAC -
11/8 Lumpkin Co. -
11/15 at Union Co. -

Date Opponent Score
9/6 Franklin Co.
9/13 at Banks Co.
9/20 at Morgan Co.
10/04 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
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Winder-Barrow
9/13 at Clarke-Centl. 12-41
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 -

Date Opponent Score
8/30 Apalachee
9/6 Union County
9/13 at Lumpkin Co.
9/20 at Landmark Christian
9/27 Monticello 42-26
10/11 Athens Christ.
10/18 Towns Co.
10/25 at Social Circle
11/8 at Commerce -
11/15 at Athens Acadm. -

  Madison County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Franklin Co.
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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