Area Sports...

JULY 23, 2003

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Private schools’ appeal to stay in 8-AA
Three private schools’ quest to stay in Region 8-AA after this year has all but ended.
The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) reclassification committee denied appeals from GAC, Providence and Wesleyan to stay in the region.
In a preliminary reclassification plan earlier this summer, the GHSA moved the three schools to Region 5-AA with several other metro-Atlanta school systems. The reclassification committee has affirmed that decision.
The three schools do have one more option remaining. They can make a final appeal before the GHSA executive committee when it meets in October to finalize the new region assignments. However, in years past the executive committee has given “rubber-stamp” approval to decisions already made by the reclassification committee.
The decision means that Banks County’s region will be without any private schools at the start of the 2004 school year. With the exception of Buford, all of the schools are primarily within what can be labeled as a “mountain region.”
The appeal denial will also save Banks and other schools lengthy driving time into metro-Atlanta to reach the three private schools.
Oglethorpe County also had an appeal before the reclassification committee last week as it tried to get relocated from 7-AA into 8-AA. That appeal was also denied.
Should the plan get final approval in October, Banks County’s region will consist of seven schools. The three private schools — GAC, Wesleyan and Providence — will move to 5-AA. Apalachee has moved up into Class AAA.
The Leopards will see former 8-AA member East Hall. The school drops a level in classification under the new plan.

Back To The Grind
With seven weeks of practice ahead of his team before its opener, Commerce head football coach Steve Savage said his group has ample time to prepare itself for the 2003 season.
The team officially kicked off its summer workouts this past Monday night with its annual “open house” and were set to hold practice in shorts and helmets Tuesday and Wednesday.
“And that will probably be it,” Savage said of the first week, adding that they’d be working on installing parts of the passing and kicking games during the first few days of workouts.
Savage pointed out that there isn’t a need to rush right now since Commerce, like last year, will begin the season a week later than most of the teams in the state since it has an open date Aug. 29, the night most GHSA schools start play.
Commerce will open its season Sept. 5 against Franklin County.
“We don’t play until the first week of September,” he said. “So we’ve got a little time.”
The team has already had a taste of football this summer, hosting the three-day Northeast Georgia Offensive Camp last week in which Tiger players worked out with nearly 300 other players from area schools.
Things promise to be busier on the practice field starting this Monday, though, as two-a-day practice in helmets and shoulder pads will begin and will run through Friday. The team will hold a morning session at 8:30 a.m. and a night session at 6 p.m.
“We just want to get back in the swing of things,” Savage said of the summer practice schedule. “We want to start working on the team and work on all the intangibles.”
Another aspect of easing back into football mode, as always, is dealing with the 90-plus degree August heat. Savage said keeping the players hydrated in practice and informing them of the proper preparations to take before practice are the keys to beating the heat.
“It’s always hot this time of year and it’s always a concern,” he said. “We’re going to instruct them on how to keep themselves hydrated for practice and how to eat right. We’re going to education them on the right things to do.”

The team finished the spring with over 60 players and Savage expects to have the same number for summer practice.

A work in progress
Despite a nearly five week delay that has hampered construction on a new fieldhouse for the athletic department at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, planners say that because of timely and arduous work in the past several weeks the project is nearing completion and could be ready for use in time for the Panther football team’s home opener.
“We fully expect to have our kids in there and to begin using the facility by the middle of August,” Jackson County athletic director and head football coach Brent Brock said Tuesday. “We’re extremely excited about it and I know our kids are always asking about it every time we pass by it and I just think it’s going to add some pride and class to our program.”
Although no definite time table has been set for the project’s completion, Jackson County school superintendent Andy Byers indicated Tuesday that he is hopeful the building will be able to be used by the time the school’s football team plays in their home opener on Sept. 12 against Clarke-Central.
“We expect it to be finished sometime in middle to late August,” Byers said. “And we are hopeful that everything will be set by that (first home game).”
In the works for several years, the roughly $450,000 project was funded through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) which county voters approved in the fall of 2001. The actual building of the fieldhouse then began this past spring, with the foundation being laid in late April.
Since that time the work of Bowen and Watson, the contractors the school board hired for the job, have encountered some wet weather and a delay while waiting on steel, but overall have done the very best they can to remain on schedule, according to Byers.
“When we initially started this project we were not sure if we would even be able to use (the fieldhouse) at all this (football) season,” Byers explained. “But thanks to their steadfast work we should be able to.”
Housed in the new 9,600 square foot building will be an assortment of facilities which the athletic department at JCCHS has been in need of for quite some time. Dressing rooms for football and boys track, as well as separate changing facilities for girls tracksters are the primary highlights of the new building. However, also included in the facility is a film/video room, meeting rooms, coaches offices, changing room for officials, storage facility and a laundry room.
If nothing else the new facility should at least take away some of the stress and hassle players and coaches have had to deal with while sharing facilities. In the past the Panther football teams have always used locker rooms in the gym and then made a short walk down to the stadium.
“Honestly, I think its been something that has been needed for quite some time and I think it says a lot about the kinds of people we have here that we’ve been sharing facilities for so long, but its been a long time coming and we’re excited about it.”
While the building’s most obvious use will be for football, the facility also will be used in the spring for both girls and boys soccer and track teams.
More Athletic Field Additions Planned at JCCHS
The fieldhouse project is the first in a series of athletic field additions which are planned at JCCHS. Soon construction is scheduled to begin on a field for fast-pitch softball that should offer more in the way of a home field advantage for Lady Panther teams. Currently the squad plays home games at Lamar Murphy Park. Brock stated that work on the new fast pitch field is the next priority.
Also on the way in the future is a new practice field for the football squad as well as a new soccer field. In addition, grading has begun on Panther Drive behind the current baseball field. The road is expected to help alleviate traffic at the school.
“We think is going to have a major improving effect (on traffic) especially in the afternoon when school lets out,” Byers said.
The road is expected to be finished shortly after Aug. 6 — the first day of school.

The heat is on
Madison County head football coach Tom Hybl said he’ll start his sixth summer practice with approximately 50 players running through drills this week.
Monday was the first day that state schools could hold workouts according to Georgia High School Association rules. All teams must workout in helmets and shorts this week before being allowed to move to pads next week.
Hybl said he and the coaching staff would continue to get the squad into football shape this week but will also get started in readying their schemes for the fall.
“We’ll do some conditioning but we’ll also try to put in some of our special teams and our defense and offense,” he said. “That’s the best time to try and learn — when you’re not hitting.”
Including this week, Madison County has six weeks of practice before kicking off the season Aug. 29 against Franklin County in Carnesville.
The team will be in pads next week and will continue to practice in the evenings. The team will have two-a-days from August 4-6 before having practice after school starting Aug. 7.
The Raiders will also have two opportunities to practice against an opponent with an Aug. 15 scrimmage with Johnson on the road and a home scrimmage with Washington-Wilkes Aug. 22.
Madison County is coming off a 5-5 season in 2002.
•Hybl enters this season with a 27-23 mark since arriving in Danielsville in 1998, making him Madison County’s all-time wins leader.
•Hybl, who is entering his sixth season will tie Red Simmons this year for longest tenure as a Madison County head coach. Simmons coached from 1959-1964

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