Area Sports...

AUGUST 18, 2004

Leopards open season Friday
Banks County to visit Lexington and the Oglethorpe County Patriots
Banks County is looking to open the season with a win against a team they defeated 50-14 in the opener last year. The game will be held in Lexington Friday, August 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Although Banks County coach Greg Moore is reluctant to comment that his team will repeat last year’s victory, he does agree that winning the opening game of the season carries weight.
“We think it is very important to win the first game of the season,” Moore said about Friday’s game. “It sets the tone for the rest of the season.”
Moore said it is important for the team to “start off on the right foot.”
Last year’s blow out, the Leopards scored 50 points against the Patriots in the opening game in 2003, paved the way for Moore’s best season thus far with the school. The team went on to win four games last season.
“I hope it is a closer game this year, I hope we can contain their speed,” Moore said.
The tables have turned. Last year, Banks County had an experienced team stacked with 16 seniors. In 2004, the Leopards are outfitted with a large number of underclassmen and the Patriots are the experienced team.
Moore said last year’s game doesn’t have anything to do with the 2004 team.
“We just want to win because it is our first game,” he said. “They probably have more motivation going into the game because we scored so many points on them last year.”
Equipped with a new coaching staff and an experienced team on both sides of the ball, Oglethorpe won’t be as easy to defeat this year, not to mention the game is on the road.
Moore said the new coach brought a new system, a wing 7, to the red, white and blue Patriots.
“The kids are believing in that system right now,” he said.
Moore said Oglethorpe’s speed could be tough to cope with.
“We’ve seen them on tape and they are 100 percent improved,” he said. “They are a good team, they have a good staff and a lot of speed.”

Getting down to business
Panthers to be thrown into fire in opener
Jackson County to contend with athletic Cedar Shoals to start reg. season Friday
When you begin the season without having won a game in more than two seasons it would be nice to be able to schedule a Sister’s of the Poor-type team to help renew confidence. For Jackson County, though, playing in Region 8-AAAA affords no such cake-walk opportunity.
Friday night, the Panthers will begin the 2004 season with one of, if not the most, talented team on their schedule. Jackson County heads to Athens to face a Cedar Shoals team that finished third in the region and went 8-3 last year. Oh, and by the way, that was a down year for the program.
Jackson County head coach Brent Brock said he hopes his team is up to the challenge the Jaguars will present in the opener, but he is keeping his eye more on the bigger picture. For Brock and the Panthers, simply performing well against the heavily favored Jaguars would go a long way towards giving them confidence heading into their second and third games — against Winder-Barrow and Madison County — two teams much more beatable on paper.
Cedar Shoals has lost some important players to graduation, however, much like a Miami might do in the college ranks, Brock said the Jaguars simply reload, they don’t rebuild.
Senior Meechi Winfrey, a versitle and experienced quarterback, leads the Cedar Shoals I Formation offense. Winfrey was the starter last year and with a full year of varsity experience now seems fit to be the leader on offense. As always the Jaguar rushing attack will be talented and deep, with Demontae Edwards and Bruce Coleman unproven, but talented this season.
Edwards is a Tyson Browning-like, scat-back that should provide a nice change from the bruising style of Coleman who likes to lower his head.
Up front the Jaguars are big and experienced with all upperclassmen on the line and an average weight of roughly 200 pounds per player.
At wide receiver Jackson County will have to contend with an experienced threat in junior Jake Thompson as well as Donovan Barnett who is looking to fill the role of now graduated Mickey Sheats.
Defensively Jackson County can also expect an experienced and talented outfit from Cedar Shoals. The Jaguars have six seniors and four juniors on that side of the ball. Trellis Burgess and Moses Little anchor the defensive line and the Nick Hensley is the most noteworthy linebacker on the squad. Moses and Little are both around 250 pound while Hensley is a stout 215.
According to Brock the Panther running game will be key to pulling off the upset Friday. Senior Bo Bonds anchors an experienced Panther ground attack, however whether the offensive line can create running room remains to be seen.

CHS, Trion Remember 2002 Slobber-Knocker
David “Moose” Bray has seen a lot the past two years as Commerce’s starting fullback.
He’s traded hits with stalwarts from Lincoln County and gone face head gear-to- head gear with the best that Hawkinsville has to offer. But there’s something about Commerce’s frigid November 29, 2002 meeting with Trion that particularly stands out to the senior.
“That’s the hardest I’ve ever been hit,” Bray remembers.
Bray was the starting fullback two years ago when Commerce downed Trion 14-10 in the second round of the playoffs in what he recalls as one of the most physical 48 minutes of football he’s endured.
“Every inch you got, you had to fight for,” Bray said. “I looked up to the sky and thanked God after it was over.”
Bray and the Tigers will pop pads with the Bulldogs again this Saturday night in Commerce in a rematch that will kick off the 2004 season. For the rest of the story see this weeks Commerce News.

Dragons hit the road Friday to face White County in opener
Jefferson head coach Bill Navas is excited about his team’s season opener Friday at White County, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have some headaches heading into the meeting.
“I’m nervous, but also excited,” the third-year Dragon coach said Wednesday. “They’ve (White County) got a lot of really good skilled players and a lot of team speed which we’re concerned about.”
The Warriors struggled in 2003 playing in Region 7-AAA. They went 1-9 and only avoided a winless season with a victory over Chestatee in the final game of the season.
But, that matters little to Navas and the Jefferson coaching squad as they prepare for the Cleveland outfit. That’s because the Warriors return the majority of their squad while the Dragons have lost several key players from last year’s 7-4 team. “They’re got most of those kids back and we’ve lost most of ours,” Navas pointed out.
On offense, the Warriors like to throw multiple sets at opposing defenses and spread them out, Navas said. “They also have several players capable of making big plays.”
Of particular concern to the Jefferson squad will be finding a way to contain a speedy White County team. That will be especially important because Jefferson is lacking in that department, according to Navas.
Running back Preston Johnson, junior quarterback Ryan Locklair, and upperclassment wide receivers Montana Morris, Tyler Jarrard and Nick Winters lead the Warrior offense. Locklair showed his versatility in a preseason scrimmage against Union County. He connected with Morris for a 55-yard touchdown pass while also tucking the ball and running for a gain of 38 yards on another key possession.
Those weapons combined with Johnson, a talented runner that has break-away speed, will have to be contained by a Jefferson defense that lost all of its starting linebackers from last season.
Stamina will likely also play a big roll both on offense and defense for Jefferson, as they will have several players pulling double duty Friday night.
“This year we’ve got more kids going both ways than ever before.” Navas said. “So if we get fatiuged we could have some problems.”
The Jefferson head coach said he has been focusing more on conditioning those players in recent practices in order to prepare them for the upcoming season.
In the Dragons’ only preseason scrimmage against Franklin County, Navas stated that his players fatigue was an issue.
This week though the majority of the Jefferson practice time has focused on preparing for the Warriors on Friday night.
“We’re just trying to fine tune a lot of things right now and get ready for Friday,” Navas explained.

Rivalry game serves as back drop for Owens’ debut
Coaches on both sides expect another pressure-cooker
Randell Owens said it hasn’t been hard to get his new team’s attention in practice this week.
With his Madison County coaching debut coming against Franklin County this weekend, the first-year Raider coach explained that he conducted a poll of his players this week to see just how many went to church with someone from the border county to the north.
“A lot of hands went up,” he explained.
Owens then let his seniors in on the fact that if they lost Friday night, they’d be hearing about it for a while in the pews on Sundays.
“Even if Madison County wins 40 years from now, and wins big, that (Franklin County) guy can still come back with well I whipped your tail 40 years from now,” he said. “So you’re playing to shut that argument up 40 years from now. It’s always good fun and for us it’s kind of serious, too.”
If there weren’t already enough variables surrounding Friday night’s game, thrown into the plot line of Owens’ debut is that it comes between rival schools that have produced a pair of barn-burners the past two meetings.
The Lions up-ended the Raiders 7-6 two years ago while Madison County returned the favor last year with a 65-yard drive in the final two minutes of the game in a 14-7 win.
“I think it means a lot more to the kids because familiarity breeds contempt and it breeds competitiveness — being so close by and competing in so many things from middle school on up,” Owens said.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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