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SEPTEMBER 10, 2003

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Lady Leopards pushing on
Banks trying to get wins through tough fast-pitch stretch
With games coming up that the Lady Leopards have a shot at winning, they are focusing on one thing — making less mistakes.
“We have to cut down on our mistakes in the field,” head coach Kevin Gaines said. “Our hitting for the most part is OK, but it is the mistakes in the field like errors or missing signs that is hurting us.”
The Lady Leopards will face off Thursday at home against Dawson County — a team that Gaines expects to be fundamentally sound.
Monday, Banks makes the trek to Hiawassee to take on first-year team Towns County in both a varsity and JV showdown.
“If we can cut down on our mental mistakes, we definitely have some winnable games ahead of us,” Gaines said.
The Lady Leopards fell 16-9 Monday in a game riddled with errors.
“We beat ourselves with the errors that we made,” Gaines said. “Nine runs should get us the win.”
The Lady Eagles capitalized on several hits and a plethora of errors to jump out to a 5-0 first-inning lead.
In the bottom of the second, more hits and four walks put the team ahead 10-0.
But in the top of third, Banks cut into the lead. Brandy Stapp reached on an error and Rachel Walker made it to first on a fielder’s choice.
Hope Autry then singled to load the bases. Nicole Powell then put the ball against the outfield fence to clear the bases and come in to score herself to set the game at 10-4.
In the bottom of the inning, Athens Christian got three more hits and added two more runs.
Banks added two runs in the top of the fourth. Ashley Denton reached on an error and scored off a R. Walker triple. H. Autry singled R. Walker in to make the score 12-6.
Athens Christian came right back to add four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, getting three straight walks and a double.
In the top of the fifth, Brittany Harris and Kayla Dodd scored on a ball that B. Stapp got by the shortstop to make the score 16-8.
The Lady Leopards added one more in the sixth. H. Autry scored off a Kayla Parks single to set the score at 16-9.
Wesleyan put up a solid pitcher to shutout the Lady Leopards through five innings while pulling out to a 7-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Banks put up its only run. H. Autry and N. Powell both singled.
K. Parks picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice for the Lady Leopards’ only run.
“We did not do a good job fielding their bunts and slaps,” Gaines said. “Their pitcher threw a lot of off speed stuff that crossed our hitters up.”
After jumping out a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Banks wasn’t able to hold on and fell 8-3 to Union County at home.
The Lady Leopards got their first runs after Jessi Freeman walked and R. Walked reached on an error in the third.
N. Powell then singled to load the bases and K. Parks hit a bases-clearing triple to make the score 3-0.
In the fourth, Union added three runs to tie the game. The Lady Panthers tacked two more in the sixth off four walks and a single and added three more in seventh off several hits.
“We struggled with pitching and we just left too many people on base,” Gaines said. “A couple of times we had runners in scoring position but were unable to get any runs in.”
The JV Lady Leopards evened their season at 1-1 with a 16-2 loss to Union County last week.
“We had a tough time in the field making good decisions and our pitching struggled,” Gaines said. “That combination will get you beat every time.”
Union quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first. Banks added one in the bottom of the inning. B. Stapp had a lead off walk and eventually scored “due to swiftness on the base paths,” Gaines said.
Union added two more runs in the second off a hit an error and tacked on four runs in the third off four errors.
The Lady Panthers added a three-run inside the park homerun in the top of the fourth to go ahead 16-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Nikki Redmon singled and Brooke Dodd reached after being hit by a pitch.
Back to back walks to Cassie Wells and Cara Bolton allowed a run to score and set the final at 16-2.

Clearing The First Hurdle
Despite what it might have lacked in style points, Commerce will mark down its Friday night’s Commerce win over Franklin County under the “we’ll take it” column.
Thanks to a second-half touchdown, late fourth down stand and closing-minute field goal, the Tigers were able to earn a workman-like 16-7 victory over the Lions Friday night to give them their seventh win in a row over the AAA Carnesville outfit.
“Anytime you win, you’re happy and we were happy to win,” Tiger head coach Steve Savage said. “I thought we played pretty well. We just ran into some of those first-game jitters. But we never did panic.”
Tied 7-7 at intermission, Commerce got a go-ahead score from Josh Haynes in the third quarter and an insurance field goal from Tommy Eason with just over a minute in the game remaining to pull away from Franklin County, giving the Tigers their fifth consecutive win over a school in a larger classification.
Operating behind an offensive line that only returned two starters, Commerce offense churned out 236 yards on the ground, outgaining the Lions by 100 yards in that category, and controlled the ball and clock for most of the second half. Savage said he only expects the offensive front to only get better.
“I thought for the first game, the offensive line played well,” he said. “Only two of them graded out but we’re not far from having the whole line grading out.”
In a miscue-filled affair on both sides that saw two turnovers in the first 11 seconds of the ball game, Commerce cashed in on Franklin County’s third turnover of the evening, picking up a Lion fumble on the Franklin County 41 on the first play of the second half and going up 13-7 seven plays later when Haynes spun into the endzone from seven yards out.
The extra point was blocked.
David Bray was the only other Tiger besides Haynes to touch the ball on the scoring drive, crashing 16 yards up the middle for a key first down at the Lion 9. Haynes scored two plays later.
Commerce’s defense assumed control the rest of the way, essentially sealing the victory with four minutes left in the fourth quarter when it stopped Franklin County on a fourth-and-seven on the Lions’ 22. Five plays later, Eason connected on his 21-yard field goal to ice the contest.
“I thought we were a hair away from making a lot of big plays on defense,” Savage explained. “We’re not disappointed with how the defense played. Hopefully, we’ll get better as the year goes on.”
Offensively, the contest pitted two of the area’s top running quarterbacks against each other and both Haynes and Franklin County’s Tyler Eavenson didn’t disappoint as both ignited their teams’ first half scores.
Haynes showcased his skills first, sparking a 58-yard touchdown drive by breaking loose for runs of 39 and 13 yards in helping to setup a one-yard touchdown run by Nick Slayton which put Commerce up 7-0 with 1:08 left in the first quarter.
Haynes finished the night with 132 yards on 21 trips.
“I thought Josh played really well and made some good plays for us,” Savage said. “He got us out of some jams.”
Not to be outdone, Eavenson, with his team pinned on its own four in the second quarter, answered by carrying the ball six times — including one carry that went for 19 yards — on a marathon 18-play, 96-yard, seven-minute scoring march which culminated in Eavenson’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Heaton.
The touchdown would have never happened though if it hadn’t been for a key first down completion by Eavenson midway through the drive.
With Franklin County facing a third-and-15 at the Commerce 48, Eavenson picked up his longest pass play of the night when he hit Cordero Davis for 20 yards to keep the drive alive at the Tiger 32.
A game that would see seven combined turnovers was foreshadowed on the opening kickoff as Franklin County’s special teams picked up a mishandled kickoff by Commerce on the Tiger 46.
Looking to capitalize on the momentum with a big play, Franklin County shed its conservative offensive look — at least for the first play — and lined up in the shotgun with “trips” to the right and lofted a pass deep into Tiger territory where Commerce cornerback Dennis Wilder immediately got his team the ball back, picking the pass off at the Tiger 16.

Raider romp
Madison County rocks Hancock 42-12
Madison County tallied 14 points in the first quarter of Friday’s 42-12 win over Hancock Central without its offense even crossing the goal line.
Two Raider defenders, Dante´ Montgomery and Sean Wingo, picked off Hancock Central passes and did what every back in the secondary dreams of — took it to the house.
Montgomery scored first, running back his interception from around the 48 yardline. Chaz Perry’s point after was good and the Raiders led 7-0.
Seconds later, the Raiders blocked a Bulldog punt and the offense quickly moved down to the Hancock Central goal line. Travis Calloway, who tallied 102 yards on 22 carries, ran the ball in for a score, but the touchdown was nullified by an illegal blocking call and the Raiders eventually turned the ball over on downs.
But Madison County got back on the scoreboard soon enough when Wingo snagged a deflected pass and sprinted some 30 yards down the left sideline for the Raiders’ second score.
Raider coach Tom Hybl said he was pleased to see his defense take advantage of Bulldog miscues.
“I thought we played a pretty solid first half,” said Raider head coach Tom Hybl, whose team improved to 2-0. “We had two scores from the defensive side for the first time since I’ve been here.”
Madison County’s defense accounted for the first two scores of the night, but the offense had its scoring celebrations too.
Following Hancock Central’s lone first half score, a 65-yard jaunt up the right sideline by Bulldog quarterback Brandon Griffin, Raider quarterback T.C. Ledford, who was 2-for-3 on the night for 19 yards, hit Marcus Shivers in the flats for a six-yard score to cap off an 80-yard drive with 5:03 to go in the second quarter. The score put the Raiders up 21-6.
Madison County added another seven points before intermission when Montgomery, who led the Raiders with 159 yards on 14 carries, broke free, racing 61 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 1:35 to go in the first half.
The Raiders’ 28-6 halftime lead proved insurmountable for the visiting Bulldog squad, who managed a 30-yard touchdown pass with under a minute to play in the game.
Madison County, meanwhile, added two second half scores: a 4-yard run by Calloway and a 14-yard run by Tyler Johnson, who finished with 38 yards on just four carries, with just three and a half minutes left in the game.
Hybl said his team seemed to “get a little more physical as the game wore on.” But he was disappointed in his squad’s inability to punch the ball in the end zone in the red zone.
“We’re not doing a good job in the scoring area,” he said.
But the coach said his team wasn’t lacking for superlatives, noting that “Dante´ Montgomery had an excellent game on both sides of the ball.”
Hybl also praised the play of Calloway at running back, Anthony Tilton and Josh Collins on the offensive line. He said Kevin Cash and Jamey Rice did a good job on defense. (Cash also caught a pass for 13 yards.) Hybl also noted the strong play of the special teams, noting the solid long snapping, the good punting by Calloway, who averaged 39.5 yards per punt and the six-for-six effort of kicker Chaz Perry on extra points.

Panthers ready for home debut against Glads
The past week-and a half has allowed the Jackson County football team plenty of opportunity to study up on Friday night’s opponent, Clarke Central.
And although many in Northeast Georgia have the Gladiators tabbed as one of the teams to beat in Region 8-AAAA this season, Jackson County players and coaches are ready to pull off the upset win in their home opener.
With a brand new fieldhouse nearly complete and set to be unveiled Friday, a new era in Jackson County football will begin. Whether it will start the way the Panthers would like it to on the field as well, remains to be seen.
“We had a good off week of practice, we’re still a little bit banged up though, but we’re going to go out there and battle,” Brock said.
Jackson County’s 21-6 loss at Winder-Barrow on Aug. 30 showed a much different team than the one the Panthers had a year ago at this time.
The Panthers were down 7-6 at the half and squandered at least two possessions inside Bulldogg territory in the third and fourth quarters. Winder-Barrow eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter for the win though.
Much like the Brock, second-year Clarke Central coach William DeVane’s team has improved substantially in the span of a year, he said, although there are still many things that need to be worked out. Last week the Gladiators opened the season with a 14-0 home win over Newton in a game that was indicative of an early-season contest, according to DeVane.
“We won, but we made a lot of mistakes but we had a lot of guys that were playing in their first varsity game. We’re still a long way from where we need to be though,” DeVane said Tuesday. “If we can have a good week of practice then I’ll feel a lot better about things.”
Despite a depth-chart loaded with upperclassmen (20 of 22 players are either juniors or seniors) DeVane stated that the Gladiators lack of experience (four starters returning on offense, five on defense) is a concern.
Last year the Gladiators knocked off the Panthers 41-12, but in the eyes of both coaches the game was closer than the final score indicated.
“A year ago it was very obvious to anyone that was there that we played them toe-to-toe,” Brock said. “...but we had tremendous break downs in the special teams and that’s what created the rout.”
A late second quarter touchdown by Clarke Central quarterback Nelson Browner allowed the Gladiators to go up 21-6 at the half before Jackson County’s special team’s woes gave way in the second half. During a 2:19 stint the Gladiators blocked a punt and recovered two fumbles, returning all three for touchdowns.
According to Brock those special teams problems — which he attributed to mental break downs for the most part — have been corrected.
Perhaps the biggest challenge lying ahead for the Panthers come Friday may not be the mental aspect of the game, but rather its physical nature.
The Gladiators average some 226 pounds on the offensive line and 231 on defense.
“There’s no magical formula to combat that,” Brock said. “You just make sure you create good angles for your kids and try and do some things to get leverage on them.”

Dragons seeking payback as home season kicks off
When Jefferson hosts Lumpkin County this Friday at Memorial Stadium there shouldn’t be much in the way of motivation lacking come game time for the Dragons.
Besides the fact that the contest marks the beginning of the 2003 Jefferson home schedule, Dragon players remember well the late field goal by Indian kicker Eliseo Alvarez that beat them on a soggy field in Dahlonega, Ga. a year ago. The 31-28 defeat marked the first time the Dragons were beaten in 2002 and it began what eventually was a six-game road losing streak.
But, there was another side to the Dragon team from a season ago, the one that produced a perfect home record in five games at Memorial Stadium. And that will undoubtedly be something the Dragons will be trying to replicate this season come Friday.
This year’s game may have a different feel to in though, as absent from the contest will be Indian standout tail back Dorian Dorsey.
According to Lumpkin head coach George Hoblitzell Dorsey is a scratch. The senior who ran for nearly 1,400 yards last season (including 199 yards against Jefferson) had hernia surgery on Aug. 15 and has not suited up since.
“We’ve kind of had to regroup here a little bit, but we’ve had about three weeks or so since we lost him and we’re not expecting him for a while,” Hoblitzell said Tuesday. “And we’re definitely not expecting him to play this week because he’s not even practicing with us.”
Although the Indians I-formation set on offense is geared toward attacking opposing team’s with Dorsey’s explosiveness, Hoblitzell stated that he does not plan to change his team’s philosophy at all against the Dragons.
Come Friday, Dorsey’s replacement, senior Erik Good will line up in the backfield and look to grind out yards in much the same way as his successor.
“We still want to be an “I” football team,” Hoblitzell explained. “We lose a little bit with Dorsey out though, because his replacement is about 30 pounds lighter than him so we’re not quite as powerful.”
That said though don’t expect the Indians to be short of rushing options on Friday night.
Option quarterback David Richardson rushed for 103 yards and four touchdowns himself last year against Jefferson, and he will once again be a threat to break free in big play situations. All four of the senior’s scores last year came from at least 11 yards out.
Last week’s 42-13 Indian win against Armuchee was highlighted by Lumpkin County’s 28-point second quarter. They led 35-0 at the half.
Despite the win, Hoblitzell stated that he was concerned about numerous penalties and several turnovers that he said will be tough to overcome against the Dragons.
“They’re (Jefferson) a very strong team,” Hoblitzell said. “They’ve already beaten two teams from our region handily so we’ve got to play well to come away the a win.”
On the Jefferson side, Dragon head coach Bill Navas has had one thing on his mind the last two weeks, turnovers.
Although his team has managed to win both of their first two games this season, fumbles have been a problem.
“I’ve got something for you next week,” the Dragon coach told his team after their win at Union County last Friday. “We’re going to learn to not fumble the football.”

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