Area Sports...

AUGUST 11, 2004

Leopards bang heads with Spartans
The Banks County Leopard football team had its first taste of competitive play on Thursday, when the team played a scrimmage game against the Athens Academy Spartans.
Although not an accurate measure on how the team will perform in the regular season, the team looked sharp and some fears about an inexperienced team were eased as the Leopards scored touchdowns, sacked quarterbacks and held their ground.
“We’re excited about their attitude,” Moore said. “You don’t know whether they will be shell-shocked or if they will get after it and we got after it,” said Banks County coach Greg Moore about the team’s performance.
The scrimmage game was played by allowing each team a certain amount of possessions before turning the ball over. The game lasted approximately one hour.
The score wasn’t kept. The game was scheduled more as a practice, an opportunity to hit someone wearing a different jersey.
Moore said: “We don’t take the outcome of the scrimmage game seriously, but we take practice seriously.”
Moore said he wasn’t overly concerned with how the team performed on Thursday, he just wanted them to have the opportunity to play.
Senior tight end John Payne said the team performed well but needs to work on things before the regular season.
“There are a lot of things to fix, we still need to work out some things,” he said about the scrimmage game.
Defensively, Moore said the team looked strong but allowed too many touchdowns to get by. The team lined up in a 50 defense, Moore said he didn’t want to show any other arrangements in the pre-season.
“We didn’t look to good at the scrimmage game, the defense was a little sloppy,” Jody Seabolt, junior defensive lineman, said about the performance.
The team will face the Chestatee War Eagles, a 7-AAA team from Gainesville, in the Leopard stadium on Friday. The scrimmage game will begin at 7 p.m. on August 13.
The regular season will begin on the road this year, in Lexington where the Leopards will battle the Oglethorpe County Patriots. The game will be held on August 20, kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.
Last year, Banks County defeated the Patriots, 50-14, to open the season. The game was the first to be played in the new stadium.

Young Lady Panthers look to make strides in ‘04 season
With her first year roaming the sidelines now complete, Jackson County head volleyball coach Heather Bruce is a bit more experienced when it comes to knowing what it takes to win in Region 8-AAAA. But, that doesn’t make the task much easier considering the loss of five seniors from last year’s 2-25 squad.
Despite beginning their schedule last night at Madison County with a 25-7, 25-23 defeat to the Lady Raiders, Jackson County’s potential was noticeable from the sidelines. But, so too were arguably their most apparent weaknesses this year — a lack of size and experience.
Bruce has only three seniors to help guide the Volley Cats in 2004, which means those players will have to step up and fill leadership roles, she said. And it’s those seniors — Sara Bryant, Danni Dickinson, and Amanda Dellana — that are currently trying to help the squad develop some chemistry.
“The girls seem to work good together...(but) we have only been working together a week. We have wrinkles to iron out like every other team,” Bruce said..
The Lady Panthers’ leading setter from a season ago, Leigh Griffith, returns along with top middle hitter Michelle Cotten to help bolster the starting lineup.
Other than that though there are mostly new faces on the court for Jackson County this season.
“(We have) a lot of newcomers, we are very young this year,” Bruce said.
The loss of middle hitter Lindsey Wilkerson and setter Amanda Healan to graduation will be tough to make up for, Bruce said.
After going winless for much of the season in 2003, the Lady Panthers finally broke through late in the year with a win over Winder-Barrow, followed by another victory over the Lady Bulldoggs in the area tournament.
“Things finally came together (then),” Bruce said.
Hopefully that trend will continue this year, according to Bruce, with the improvement of several players in the offseason offering promise for the future at the Panther Pit.
Bess Harris , a junior, and Hannah Wood, a freshman, have both excelled so far this year. Wood, who played on the junior varsity squad last year as an eighth grader, is making the move up to the first team well, Bruce said.
The projected starters for this year’s squad are as follows: Sara Bryant - setter; Baily Griffith - middle hitter, Myriah Goldman - outside hitter, Brooke Wilkins - middle hitter, Hannah Wood - setter/hitter, and Rachel Bryant - outside hitter.
Along with the new faces on the court this season, the addition of Annie Downs to the Jackson County volleyball program is much welcomed, according to Bruce. Downs is a new assistant and junior varsity coach that is expected to help develop the younger players.
“Annie Downs is a great addition as assistant coach,” Bruce explained. “(We’re) hoping and looking forward to a positive season.”

Lady Dragons beat Clarke Central in inaugural game
If things continue to go as well as they did Monday for the Jefferson fast-pitch team, they might well wonder why they’ve waited until this season to take part in the sport.
In the program’s first-ever game, the Lady Dragons defeated a much larger and experienced school from Class AAAA, Clarke Central, 8-1 in Athens on Monday evening.
Megann Fulcher got the win for Jefferson, pitching all seven innings and using solid run support to outpitch Clarke Central’s Kim West.
Brittany Caudell led the way for the Lady Dragons at the plate. She went 3-for-4 on the day and was just a home run away from hitting for the cycle. With a single, double and triple on the day, the senior drove in four runs. Kristina Friedman added an RBI as well, during part of her 2-for-4 day at the plate. Others with hits included Breanna Bray and Kimberly Tolbert.
First-year Jefferson skipper Melissa Mullis was happy to record her first win as a head coach, as well as the program’s first win, in the opener, However, she stressed that there is a long season ahead for the Lady Dragons, who next travel to take part in the Jordan Tournament this Friday and Saturday.
“It was a great victory for our first fast-pitch game in our inaugral season,” Mullis said. “We are now setting our focus towards the Jordan tournament this weekend that we feel will help prepare us for our region games and post season play.”
Following this weekend, Jefferson will travel to North Hall for another early season tournament before hosting Clarke Central in a rematch on Aug. 23. That contest will be the Jefferson fast-pitch program’s first-ever home game.
Editors note: The roster for the inaugural Jefferson fast-pitch team is as follows, it was unavailable at press time last week (number, player): 00, Shae David; 5, Katie Edwards; 9, Sloane Beeco; 10, Kimberly Tolbert; 11, Alison Roberts; 12, Kristina Friedman; 15, Megan Fulcher; 20, Breanna Bray; 22, Caroline Adams; 23, Audrey Dinkins; 25, Brittney Caudell; and 42, Amber Martin.

Searching for starters
Coaches put personnel decisions under the microscope during scrimmage sessions
It’s a process that demands some painstaking multi-hour film sessions, but first-year Raider head coach Randell Owens said he and his staff are close to settling on starting lineups as Madison County’s opener looms a week from Friday.
But at the same time, “close” certainly doesn’t mean etched in stone.
“Nobody’s got tenure right now,” Owens said Tuesday morning. “Nobody’s 100 percent ‘the guy.’ All jobs are still kind of open right now.”
This past weekend, all coaches were handed film of this past Friday’s Dunwoody scrimmage and the staff went into seclusion for about six hours in the coaches’ offices Sunday talking about nothing but personnel.
“Coaches’ eyes were looking at watches and stomachs were growling and wives were calling,” Owens said of the marathon film session.
Owens’ staff will give another intense look at personnel when they examine the film from this past Tuesday night’s scrimmage with Elbert County. For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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