Area Sports...

JULY 30, 2003

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BCMS softball tryouts set Tues.
Banks County Middle School will hold tryouts and practice for the upcoming softball season on August 5 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the recreation department. The tryouts are for girls in the seventh and eighth grade, said coach Tiffani Thomas.

Putting On The Pads
Commerce football players will be getting used to lugging around their armor again this week as the team donned pads this Monday to start a week-long session of two-a-days practice.
“(We’re) getting acclimated to being out there again, getting acclimated to the elements and the pads,” Tiger head coach Steve Savage said.
The week has already been used to reiterate the basics as Commerce ran through hitting drills Monday morning, but that’s not to say that both their offensive and defensive schemes won’t get attention as well.
“We’ll be running some plays, you’ve got to run a play sooner or later...We’ll be optioning the ball and we’ll be looking at throwing the ball a little more this year.”
Coaches will also be giving a look at personnel this week. Savage said he’s expecting solid preseasons from team strong holds like quarterback Josh Haynes, lineman Tommy Eason, linebacker Casha Daniels, tailback Dennis Wilder, linebacker Justin Howell, fullback David Bray and linebacker Nick Slayton, but said that doesn’t mean others won’t shine.
“There are always people who will step up and surprise you,” he said. “Sometimes it’s someone that you’re not even counting on that comes through ... I’m satisfied someone will step up. It maybe a ninth grader or a 10th grader or a junior who didn’t play much last year.”
Commerce will scrimmage an out-of-state foe this summer in addition to a workout against Rabun County.
The Tigers are set to travel to Walhalla, S.C. Aug. 16 to face White Oak High School at 7 p.m.. Rabun County will scrimmage Walhalla at the conclusion of Commerce’s scrimmage.
“It will be like a double header,” Savage explained.
It won’t be Commerce’s first journey to the Palmetto state. The Tigers downed Walhalla 35-24 on the road in 2001 in its first-ever contest outside the state of Georgia.
Commerce will scrimmage Rabun County at home the following week. No time has yet been set.

Etheridge makes it three straight at LNS
Rookie Richey Etheridge of Flowery Branch, Ga. edged veteran Russell Fleeman of Dacula to earn his fourth win of the 2003 season in the Pro Late Model division Saturday at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton.
For Etheridge, who beat Fleeman by less than a car-length at the conclusion of the 50-lap event, it was his third consecutive win in the premier class at Lanier. The win puts Etheridge, who drives a Dodge Intrepid, in contention for the points title as championship leader Shane Chastain finished 18th after his Chevrolet suffered mechanical failure.
"Russell is tough to beat here," Etheridge said. "When we got into lap traffic at the end I thought 'man, he's going to get me.' But we were able to hold him off and get three in a row. That's awesome."
Curt Britt blistered the field as he dominated and won the 30-lap truck feature. As the checkered flag waved, Britt coasted across the line two seconds ahead of George Williams, Jr.
"After last week (when he finished second), we decided to come and win one," said Britt. "It's been a while since we were in victory lane - the Fourth of July."
Jackie Daniel put on one of his patented victory lane celebrations after he narrowly beat Mike Bruce in the Sportsman 25-lap event. Ty Stewart charged from the eighth starting position to win the 20-lap Modified Ministock feature. The victory was Stewart's third in 2003 at LNS.
In a dramatic finish, teammates Chad Hoopaugh and William Earnest raced side-by-side over the final two laps with Hoopaugh claiming the win by four feet in the Factory Four’s 30-lap race.
Legends winners were Chris Dilbeck in Pro and Preston Seagraves in Semi Pro.
The Saturday of Speed 350 rolls into Lanier on Saturday, with Super Late Model, Pro Late Model, and Truck drivers on hand to participate in the Southern All Star sanctioned tripleheader.
The event will be headlined by the Southern All Star Super Late Model 150. The night will also include a 100-lap Pro Late Model race and 100-lap truck event.

Full pads turn up intensity
Monday marked the first day football teams were allowed to don the pads this preseason, a sign that the opening of the 2003 season is just around the corner.
Jackson County returned from a brief mini-camp at North Georgia College and State University last week and continued to work solidly, according to Panther head coach Brent Brock.
The team was put through a rigorous four days of work that included some 10 practices during which time they worked on fine tuning plays and focusing on fundamentals.
Monday the intensity level was definitely taken up a notch, with full contact hits ringing in the distance at Panther Stadium.
“We had a lot more contact and more situational-type things and we scrimmaged some,” Brock explained.
And, thanks to a dedicated group of approximately 60 players this offseason, Brock stated that this year’s preseason work has been more efficient than in the past.
“They’ve made the commitment to stay in shape year-round so we’ve been able to concentrate more on just football (and not having to get into shape),” Brock said.
The Panthers travel to White County for their first preseason scrimmage on Aug. 15.
Midnight session rings in preseason for JHS
Jefferson head coach Bill Navas began the preseason for his squad early Monday morning, very early.
Navas, starting his second season with the Dragons, conducted the first practice of the 2003 season as soon as the clock struck midnight after meeting with the team on Sunday evening.
The Dragons have since been hitting the field early each morning for practice in anticipation of their upcoming first scrimmage of the preseason against Greene County on Aug. 8 at Memorial Stadium.

Raider softball team finalizing rosters; getting ready for practice
Making cuts — it’s the uglier side of coaching but a deed that has to be done in order to get a season on the move.
Raider head softball coach Doug Kesler said Tuesday night that all cuts would be finalized by Wednesday morning during the last leg of tryouts so that the rosters would be set in time to start practice that afternoon.
The team will then have 15 days to prepare for its season opener in the Lead Off Classic which Madison County will host Aug. 13-16 at the recreation department. The Raiders start play Aug. 14.
Forty players showed up for tryouts which started Monday. Kesler said that he hopes to narrow the roster to 28-30 players, allotting approximately 16 varsity spots and 12 junior varsity spots.
Kesler explained that turning a player away during tryouts is never pleasant.
“That’s the worst part about coaching — turning away a kid that wants to play,” he said.
The coach explained that every effort is taken to fairly give a player an accurate assessment. The difference between a player making or missing a cut is based on a thorough evaluation process, one that not only takes in account hitting, defensive skills, throwing ability and baserunning, but mental aspects such as attitude and enthusiasm as well.
Points for each category are tallied for a total score and players are ranked accordingly. It’s a fair system Kesler said, but it doesn’t make cutting a player any easier.
“There’s no good way to cut a kid who wants to be out there,” he said.
The point system isn’t the deciding factor in every single instance however. Kesler said that there are a few intrinsic aspects that could tip the scales.
“If there’s a girl who’s just an outstanding pitcher but that’s all she can do, you’re not going to cut her,” Kesler said.
With limited roster space, Kesler added that quality players are often lost to the cutting process.
“We’ve got 16 10th graders trying out,” Kesler said. “So we’re going to be cutting some kids who are pretty decent players.”

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