CHS-MCHS Meet Again After Wild 2002 Contest
BY BEN MUNRO
While it might not parallel the dramatics
of Commerce's rivalry with say, Lincoln County, the Tigers' series
with Madison County has proved to be well worth the price of
the five dollar voucher at the gate over the past few years.
And if the past three meetings are any indication, Friday night's
44th renewal of the Commerce-Madison County rivalry should be
another four-quarter affair.
"They play everyone right down to the wire," Tiger
head coach Steve Savage said of the Raiders. "That's just
their style of play."
"Down to the wire" would certainly summarize last year's
heart-stopper where Commerce averted defeat with a clutch 67-yard
drive in the last two minutes for a game-winning touchdown and
two-point conversion in a 29-28 victory.
The close win followed two previous nail-bitters in which the
Tigers also conjured late-game heroics. Commerce won 31-22 in
1998 with the aid of a 77-yard kickoff return from Monté
Williams and again in 1999, 22-16, after coming up with a crucial
fourth down stop in Tiger territory.
If it comes down to another photo finish this year, Madison County's
players will have had plenty of experience with close contests
to draw upon.
Last year's one-point loss to the Tigers was just one of seven
Raider games that were decided by nine points or less in a 5-5
In six games so far this season, four have been decided by less
than a touchdown with the Raiders beating Franklin County 14-7
on the last play, downing Athens Academy 13-7, tying Jefferson
County 21-21 and falling to defending 8-AAA champion Grayson
The Raiders have a 3-2-1 record this year.
Classic finish this time around or not, whoever's left standing
in this one will get something it hasn't seen almost a month
- a win.
Both teams haven't prevailed since Sept. 12 when Commerce slammed
Banks County 35-14 and Madison County outlasted Athens Academy
by forcing seven turnovers.
Since then, the Tigers have dropped contests to top 10 foes Morgan
County (35-7) and Lincoln County (14-7) and had an off week this
past week to think about it while Madison County was routed by
Monroe Area (28-7) Sept. 19 and had its tie with Jefferson County
Sept. 26 before last week's seven point loss to Grayson.
The matchup pits two teams come from similar schools of thought
offensively with both employing run-oriented, three-back schemes
aimed at chewing up yards on the ground and time on the clock.
In fact, the teams totalled 501 rushing yards between the two
of them in last year's contest.
The winner of this contest could be the one who holds onto the
ball the longest.
This year, Madison County's "Hybl-bone" offense is
averaging 205.8 yards on the ground while putting the ball in
the air less than seven times a game.
Commerce's ground attack - averaging 171 per game - has of course
been slowed this year with the absence of Josh Haynes for most
all of the past two games. However, Haynes will be back under
center Friday night to team with tailback Dennis Wilder in trying
to revive the Tigers' triple option attack.
That's a big concern for Madison County head coach Tom Hybl as
Wilder and Haynes combined for 242 rushing yards against the
Raiders last year. Haynes also notched the final touchdown and
Wilder added the deciding two point conversion.
"It used to be Williams and Collins," Hybl said. "Now
it's Haynes and Wilder."
Hybl said if the duo runs wild like it did last year, it could
be a long night for his team.
"We're going to have to contain their quarterback and tailback
and try to create some turnovers," Hybl said. "We'll
try to keep their offense off the field and control the ball.
We were able to do that a little last year. But when they got
the ball in their hands, we couldn't stop them."
Savage said his team will have to answer the physical challenge
against Madison County as his team seeks its seventh win in a
row in the series.
"If you don't defeat blocks and tackles, then your not going
to be able to play with them," the Tiger coach said.
THIS AND THAT
·Aside from injury, the Tigers were nursing sickness during
off week. According to Savage, several of the team were bitten
by the flu bug but all should be well enough to play Friday night.
The time away from the playing field was well-spent Savage said.
"We needed on off-week this past week," he said.
·Commerce will be looking to avoid its first three-game
losing streak since 1992 when it started out 0-4 in a 3-7 season.
·The Tigers' 29-28 win over Madison County last year was
its first over a AAAA school.
·Commerce and Madison County were region foes from 1958-1969.
The Tigers owned a 9-3 mark in that stretch.
·The only other opponent that Commerce has played more
in its 64-season "modern era" than Madison County is
for second region win
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Friday's football game could have big implications for the rest
of Banks County's season - and Dawson County's too.
"Both of us are in a must-win situation if we are going
to slip into that number four spot," new Dawson head coach
Jeff Lee said.
With Buford and Wesleyan quickly gobbling up the top two spots
in Region 8-AA, the third and fourth slot could be up for grabs.
GAC, a usual powerhouse in the region, has already dropped two
region contests. Lumpkin, another tough contender, fell to Wesleyan
last week and gets Buford this week.
While it may seem too early for playoff talks, Friday's win is
a must if Banks County (2-3, 1-2) even has a tiny hope of a playoff
berth this season - and Dawson County (2-2, 1-1) too.
Both the Leopards and the Tigers are on a similar level and match
up well, a recipe for a pretty good football contest on homecoming
night in Homer.
Dawson will bring a fairly young team sporting eight starting
sophomores and two freshman. After a key season opening 24-19
win over Forsyth Central, the Tigers dropped two in a row. The
Tiger coach attributes that to experience.
"We had to get over the young inexperienced thing,"
Dawson comes off a 24-21 victory over a winless Rabun County
team. The Tigers' two loses came to Athens Academy (16-0) and
Though Lee wasn't coaching at the school last year, some of Dawson
County's players could still have a bitter taste in their mouth
about last season. The Leopards marched in Dawsonville and spoiled
the Tigers' homecoming with a 14-0 win there. Now Banks County
will be having homecoming as the Tigers come to town.
"We haven't tried to play it up because it's a different
team and a different situation," Lee said. "We're worrying
about ourselves right now."
Banks County head coach Greg Moore also said he isn't playing
up that issue.
"I always say that football players play football,"
Moore said. "We worry about the game and not everything
Dawson's coach Lee said he expects a good game Friday night.
He'll see Banks in person for the first time this week but said
the team has improved over the film he's seen of last season.
"That quarterback is a gamer," Lee said of Tyson Baxter.
"I'd like to have him myself."
Lee also pointed to Seth Brownlee.
"They have several other kids who play real hard,"
Lee said. "They must be doing something right."
On his team, Lee said he's gotten good play out of his defense,
especially junior linebackers Lance Walls (50) and Jesse Tobias
(22). Walls leads the team in tackles.
He also mentioned senior defensive tackle Steve Kritikos (53).
Offensively, the Tigers rely on sophomore quarterback Chad Cunningham
(9). The leader, who also doubles as field goal kicker, threw
for over 300 yards in Dawson's first game.
Since then, Lee has tried to take some of the pressure off Cunningham's
shoulders by running the ball more often. But the Tigers do have
the ability to air it out effectively. And Cunningham hit a 45-yard
field goal in last week's win over Rabun.
If the Tigers stay on the ground, they'll likely go to fullback
Andy Myers (3). He posted 197 yards rushing last week.
Lee also pointed to his center, Andrew Grigsby(58), as a key
for the offensive line unit.
Moore said he expects Dawson County to be a very physical football
team and hopes not to get a letdown after last week's win over
"Their defense is very, very good," Moore said of the
Tigers. "They throw the ball around everywhere. It will
be a big challenge. They are quite a team."
Banks has managed to stay fairly healthy but will be without
starting lineman D.J. Ledford, a senior. He'll miss the game
for unspecified reasons.
Region play brings
Dragons look to get leg up, end three-game skid Fri. at
BY ALLEN LUTON
Nothing can make a team with a losing streak smile more than
the likes of a struggling football program up next on the schedule.
Friday marks the opening Region 8-A game of the 2003 season when
Jefferson travels to Athens Christian, and in the eyes of the
Dragons, the meeting could not come at a better time.
"They're struggling a little bit right now," a modest
Jefferson head coach Bill Navas said Tuesday.
Although surely not wanting to give Friday's opponent any bulletin-board
material, on paper the Eagles appear to be as poor a squad as
any in 8-A this season. With a roster hovering around 25 players
on a good day, a defense that averages 28.2 points allowed per
game and an offense that is struggling mightily (7.8 points per
game), Athens Christian appears to be the type of team the Dragons
will enjoy opening the month of October against.
And considering Jefferson has not notched a victory since Sept.
5, a win would definitely go a long way toward helping to restore
a bit of team confidence.
"It's been pretty upbeat so far at practice, there's a little
uneasiness there that a win would help, but for the most part
things have been pretty good," Navas, whose team was off
last week, said.
The past month has seen Navas' squad hampered by injuries and
slowed by an arduous schedule that included home losses to Lumpkin
Co. and Landmark Christian (both Top Ten teams in the state)
as well as a tough road defeat to Monticello.
The loss of tailback Montray Riley for the season to a torn ACL
and MCL for the season leaves the backfield short an experienced
and poised runner.
The junior was injured on Sept. 19 during an 11-point loss to
No. 8 Landmark Christian.
His departure has meant the Dragons will need to find a bit more
depth in the running back positions of the offense, something
Navas said has been addressed during the past week and a half
off during practice.
"We've just taken the last weeks to develop as much depth
as possible and to diversify as much as we can," Navas explained.
Using several different style ball-carriers in the wing-T offense
Jefferson runs has become a priority, as has the continued development
of the passing attack.
Although the latter has improved substantially this season, with
sophomore Wade Johnson at the helm, a running mate that can replace
Riley and go along with leading rusher Wesley Satterfield has
still yet emerge.
The return of linebacker and fullback/tight end Tito Moon on
Friday should help the Dragons tremendously on both sides of
the ball. The senior had missed significant time this season
with a knee injury.
"Tito's a good kid and one of our better athletes, so he's
definitely going to help us," Navas explained.
But, as has been the case this season, as soon as one player
returns another seems to go down. This week it is linebacker
Daniel Love that has a calf injury that has him listed as questionable
Wide receiver/defensive back Seth Potts will also be out this
week with a hip injury, although he is possible for next week.
The senior has missed nearly a month with a fractured hip.
Friday's game presents a challenge of a different kind than those
of late for the Dragons, as they will have to fight off complacency
and rustiness more than favored opponents.
Athens Christian is led by senior quarterback Nick Dalton who
has a solid arm and is experienced.
Gone is last season's leading receiver Josh Pennington, and a
thin line on both sides of the ball should give Jefferson a physical
advantage in that regard.
During their four losses the Eagles were outscored 135-13 and
they were shut-out in three of those games. Their lone win of
the season was a 26-6 game against Glascock Co. on Sept. 19.
Montgomery's quick strike not enough in Raider setback
BY BEN MUNRO
It was one play and call it a day
for Madison County's offense Friday night.
No sooner than when the final note of the "Star Spangled
Banner" had subsided, Danté Montgomery busted outside
on a hand off and thundered 80 yards down the left sideline to
give Madison County a stunningly quick 7-0 lead over Grayson
after just six seconds.
It was the next 47:54 that managed to get the Raiders, however.
Montgomery's run would actually out gain Madison County's combined
offensive output for the rest of the night as the Raiders mustered
just 76 total yards after the score in a 14-7 loss to the defending
Raider head coach Tom Hybl said he couldn't fault his team's
effort, explaining that his group was simply shut down by a physically
"I thought our kids played with a lot of grit," he
said. "They rose up to the level of competition. We couldn't
move on their offensive and defensive fronts. They were huge
and physical. For us to hang in there in the fourth quarter with
a chance to tie or win was some good stuff out of our kids ...
They were as big a team as I've seen since I've been here."
While Montgomery's run turned out to be in vain, Hybl called
the highlight "an excellent individual effort."
"We didn't block the hole," Hybl said. "But he
bounced off and kept fighting and busted it out."
It didn't take long for Grayson to put its weapons to use and
even the score after Montgomery's jaunt - a minute and five seconds
to be exact.
After an incomplete pass and a short gain, Ram quarterback Mason
Bass unloaded a perfect strike to Reece Tate who burned the Raider
secondary for a 63-yard score to knot the game at seven.
After that, Grayson added a second quarter score - a one-yard
sneak from Bass to cap a seven-play, 95-yard drive - and then
put its defense to work as Madison County crossed midfield just
three times the rest of the way.
The Raiders' offense was revived momentarily though in the fourth
quarter when backup quarterback Chaz Perry entered the game and
hit Montgomery on a quick-hitter over the middle that went 31
yards down to the Ram 43 with 7:05 left.
However, a short gain and two incomplete passes killed that threat.
The Raiders did give themselves a one more long shot opportunity
to tie the game when they held Grayson and a fourth-and-inches
on the Madison County 27 with just over a minute left to play.
However, the Raider passing attack didn't have the firepower
to match Montgomery's opening run as Perry misfired four times,
turing the ball over on downs with 44 seconds left.
·On the defensive side of the ball, Hybl praised the play
of Jamie Rice who had 13 individual tackles as well as Marcus
Shivers at cornerback.
·Travis Calloway had a field day for the Raider special
teams, booming several long punts, including a 62-yarder in the
-Zach Mitcham contributed to this article
Panthers with plenty to
play for Fri. vs. Newton
BY ALLEN LUTON
When Jackson County battles Newton this Friday at Panther Stadium,
there will be a lot more riding on the outcome of the game for
the visiting team from Covington, but only in the region standings.
The Panthers (0-4) are now in the midst of the state's second
longest losing streak (18) behind Druid Hills (23), a fact that
would be hard to notice for those in attendance at Jackson County
games this season.
Although they have yet to crack the win column so far this year,
the nature of the defeats has caused plenty of people in Jefferson
to begin noticing the strides the Panthers have made.
After an off week last Friday, Jackson County spent the past
week and a half healing up some knocks and bruises in preparation
for Friday's opponent Newton.
The Rams enter Friday on the heels of one of the more exciting
calls of the season made against them by rival Heritage.
The Patriots came away with an 11-10 win last week thanks to
a gutsy fake extra-point call in overtime. The resulting two-point
conversion romp into the end zone sent the Rams home at 2-3 despite
what some, including their coach, thought was a contest they
should have won.
Newton head coach Ben Reaves stated his team did plenty to win
the game, but that Heritage simply out coached his bunch and
capitalized on their opportunities better in the loss.
Lengthy Newton drives last week came up empty time and time again
despite moving the chains. The Rams were stopped inside the 1-yard
line, on the 15-yard line and on the 30-yard line of their opponent
without scoring following lengthy drives.
Mistakes will need to be corrected Friday night according to
their coach if the Rams are to avoid becoming the first team
the Panthers have defeated since 2001.
Last week against the Patriots, Newton had a touchdown run called
back because of a penalty, missed several field goals and only
managed to take the game into overtime thanks to a field goal
with 33 seconds remaining in the game.
All of which means one thing for Jackson County coach Brent Brock
and his squad, continuing to find a way to frustrate the Rams
in the red zone.
Coming off arguably their best defensive showing of the season
on Sept. 26 againt Salem, if not for several costly turnovers
the Panthers might have held the Seminoles to just one touchdown
on the night. Instead though they gave the ball up deep in their
own territory enabling Salem to march the short field into the
end zone on two occasions.
Much like the Seminoles, Friday's opponent will be full of athleticism,
size and big play ability according to Brock.
"They'r a dangerous football team," Brock said of the
Rams. "They're very talented and could explode and finish
the season as strong as anyone.
'They just match up well on both sides of the ball, they have
good size and they can do a lot of things with their big bodies."
Last year's quarterback Dedrick Petty has since moved to tailback,
while leading reveiver Ben Reaves, Jr. will be a threat in the
air on offense.
Defensively the Rams are tough at linebacker and strong against
the run, something that should prove to be a challenge for Jackson
County's time consuming rushing scheme.
Despite their losing record, the Rams are also a proven and tested
squad. They handed Winder-Barrow their only loss of the season
in Covington earlier this season. In that game quarteback Brandon
Heath proved that although the Rams are known for the run, they
possess the ability to mix up the passing game effectively too.
Heath finished that day with 8-of-17 passing with five receptions
over 35 yards.