Area Sports...

SEPTEMBER 29, 2004

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULES/RESULTS

BANKS COUNTY LEOPARDS
(1-4)

8/20 Ogle Co. W 30-27
9/3 Wesleyan L 0-42
9/10 Commerce L 13-40
9/17 GAC L 0-30
9/24 Rabun Co. L 0-17
10/1 Union Co. 7:30
10/8 Lumpkin Co. 7:30
10/15 Buford 7:30
10/22 East Hall 7:30
10/29 Dawson Co. 7:30

COMMERCE
TIGERS
(2-3)

8/21 Trion W 36-27
8/27 @Frank Co L 21-28
9/3 Morgan Co L 27-41
9/10 @Banks Co W 40-13
9/17 Lincoln Co L 13-18
10/2 @North Oconee 7:00
Oct. 8 Social Circle 8:00
Oct. 15 @Jefferson 7:30
Oct. 22 Towns County 8:00
Oct. 29 @Athens Acad 7:30

JACKSON COUNTY PANTHERS
(2-4)

8/21 @ Cedar Shoals L 0-21
8/27 Winder-Barr L 14-21
9/3 @ Madison Co L 0-21
9/10 Hab. Central L 14-20
9/17 @ Eastside W 21-14
9/24 Rockdale Co. W 15-12
10/1 Loganville 7:30
10/15 @ Heritage 7:30
10/22 @ Salem 7:30
10/29 Clarke Central 7:30

JEFFERSON
DRAGONS
(5-0)

8/20 @ White Co. W 23-8
8/27 Warren Co. W 30-14
9/3 @ Lumpkin Co. W 28-0
9/10 Whitfield W 23-0
9/17 @ Oglet Co W 30-0
10/1 Athens Acad 7:30
10/8 @ Towns Co. 7:30
10/15 Commerce 7:30
10/22 @ N Oconee 7:30
10/29 Social Circle 7:30

MADISON COUNTY RED RAIDERS
(4-1)

8/20 @Frank Co W15-7
9/3 Jackson Co W 21-0
9/10 Eastside W 24-14
9/17 @Heritage L 0-23
9/24 @Lgnvile W 29-12
10/1 Clrke Cent 7:30
10/8 @Hab. Cent 7:30
10/15 Salem 7:30
10/22 Rokdle Co. 7:30
10/29 @Cedar Shoals 7:30

Leopards fall to Wildcats, 0-17
Leopards are scoreless in two consecutive games
The Leopards lost a difficult game Friday, September 24, to the Rabun County Wildcats. The score was 17-0.
For the second week in a row the Leopards were unable to put any points on the scoreboard. They were scoreless against Greater Atlanta Christian on September 18.
“I thought our kids played real hard, but we didn’t execute on offense,” said Banks County coach Greg Moore. “They (Rabun County) were able to make a big play and went up 10-0. I thought we had a good plan, but they made a big play and we didn’t.”
The Leopards held the Wildcats to a field goal for the first half of the game, which came with less than a minute to play in the second quarter.
Rabun County scored a touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth. Both extra points were good.
The defensive effort from the Banks County team was strong. Nick McKinzie, a senior linebacker, forced two incomplete passes in the game, knocking the ball out of the air and away from the intended receivers. Brent Ritchie, a sophomore full back, recovered an important fumble for the Leopards after a tackle forced the turnover.
“The defense is playing real hard, they are doing the little things they should be,” Moore said. “I’m impressed with the hustle.”
Banks County defensive coordinator, Tim Bragg, was equally impressed with the defensive effort.
“They played real good, they plugged right in to the scheme,” he said. “They played with the intensity that we really try to get. I was extremely proud of their effort.”
John Payne led the team in first hits with six, he also had six assists, one hurry and two tackles for a loss of six yards.
LaDarius Jackson had five first hits and three assisted tackles.
Ritchie led the team in assists with 11, he had five first hits. Jody Seabolt and Otis Rylee each had seven assists.
Overall, Payne and McKinzie lead the team in hits with 20 each. Payne also had eight tackles for a loss of 33 yards, four quarterback sacks and five hurries.
Wayne Coker was second in hits with 17. Coker had eight assisted tackles and four tackles for a loss of eight yards and two forced fumbles.


Panthers with chance to win third straight Friday
It appears Jackson County is in the mood to make some changes this year. A week after ending what had been a nearly three-year consecutive losing streak, the Panthers became the program’s first team since 1992 to pull off back-to-back wins by beating Rockdale County.
So what’s the next change in store for the Panthers?
The logical choice is to become the first team since that squad 12 years ago (which was the best in school history) to pull off three-straight victories. That opportunity will present itself Friday night as the Panthers ( 2-4, 2-3 in Region 8-AAAA) host Loganville during homecoming.
The Red Devils (2-3, 1-3) were hurt badly by allowing 20 second half points last week during a loss to Madison County. and are reeling. Loganville managed a 71-yard scoring drive on the game’s opening possession, but were largely ineffective otherwise on offense. The Red Devils showed signs of a vulnerability to the pass, as was evidenced by a 26-yard touchdown pass allowed in the third quarter last week. If, in fact, they are weak in the secondary that could prove especially important for the Panthers who may have to rely more on the arm of senior quarterback Daniel Clark with leading rusher Bo Bonds unavailable due to a serious ankle sprain suffered while punting last Friday. He is expected to be sidelined until Oct. 15 when the Panthers travel to Heritage, according to head coach Brent Brock. The good news for Jackson County is that Bonds should only miss one game (Friday night) because the Panthers have a bye next week.
“Even though Bo’s out, we’ve still got to get up in people’s faces and get verticle, that’s how you win football games,” Brock said.
Filling in for Jackson County in the backfield will be sophomores Kevin Jarrells and Tony Crawford. The two have seen increasing playing time this year, and were called upon heavily when Bonds went down early in the first half last week. Jarrells responded with a career night of 112 yards rushing on 36 carries with a touchdown to win the game late in the fourth quarter. Crawford will also be relied upon Friday night Brock said. He expects the Red Devils to prepare for outside running plays because that’s how Jarrells was able to pick up the majority of his yards against the Bulldogs.
Crawford then becomes key because he is more of a between-the-tackles type runner.
“Basically, what we’ve done is we’ve put K.J. (Jarrells) and Toney in the backfield together,” Brock said.
Wide receiver Jerry Johnson will also be asked to step up in the absence of Bonds. Johnson caught a touchdown pass from Clark as time expired in the first half of last Friday’s game. The play, although overshadowed by Jarrells tremendous effort, was what started the Panther 12-point comeback.
Perhaps most overlooked though, according to Brock, was the solid play of the Jackson County defense last week. While the offense was held to less than 200 yards total on the night, the Panther defensive unit kept them in the game by shuting out the Bulldogs in the second half. Brock noted the importance of pinning the Bulldogs deep on several possessions in the second half. The Panthers allowed just 169 total yards on the night and surrendered only six points.
“Super job, probably the hidden story of the night,” Brock said of his defense’s performance last Friday night.


Commerce-Jefferson Set For Round Two
Tigers Go Into Game After Hardigree’s Game-Winner Vs. Towns County Thurs.
If it weren’t enough that Commerce and Jefferson were facing each other on a softball field, throw in the fact that two playoff hungry teams are crossing paths Thursday and you’ve got the potential ingredients for another pressure cooker.
The first round between these two teams certainly fit that bill as the Tigers staved off a late but furious Jefferson rally Sept. 2 for an 8-7 win in the first-ever fast-pitch game between the two rivals.
The stakes will be high again this time as the region schedule hits its final stretch and both are clawing for postseason spots.
While the game is certainly big, Tiger head softball coach Pam Canup looks at the contest in a more general perspective, explaining that her team can’t afford to a day off in any of the games in its remaining region slate — Jefferson or anyone else.
“We’ve got to play well,” she said. “We’ve got four region games left. It’s important that we play well in all of them if we want to make it to the playoffs.”
The Tigers will be catching a team that is surging as of late under first-year head coach Melissa Mullis with big wins over Athens Christian and Hebron Academy which shook up the region standings.
However, Commerce will go into the game with momentum too thanks to a bit of freshman heroics Thursday.
The Tigers snapped a two-game losing streak when Ellie Hardigree stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh of tie ball game against Towns County and drove Katelyn Nevil home from third to break a 2-2 stalemate and give Commerce a 3-2 triumph.
With the win, the Tigers swept the series with Towns County and remained in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Commerce led the Indians 1-0 when Jennie Allen drove home Nevil but Town County eventually overtook Commerce with two scores and carried that lead into the final inning.
But that’s when the Tigers broke out the dramatics.
Lisa Minish started the rally with a single and was replaced by courtesy runner Kaylin Canup who stole second and third and eventually scored after Nevil reached first on an error by the first baseman.
Commerce continued its aggressive base running as Nevil stole second and was then moved over to third by Amber Haggard, setting up Hardigree’s game-winner.
“We were all excited, especially when you consider that all those girls going up there in the final inning were freshmen,” Canup said.
Defensively, Commerce committed just two errors while Whitney Canup led the team offensively with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. Lord, Minish and Hardigree all went 1-for-3.
Commerce entered the game on the heels of a close game against the region’s top team last Tuesday, falling 2-0 to Hebron Academy.
The Tigers trailed 1-0 for six innings and surrendered another score in the seventh as the Dacula-based private school swept the season series.


Athens Academy coach questions strength of Dragon schedule, ranking
If there wasn’t all that much excitement in the Jefferson locker room surrounding this Friday’s region opener against No. 10 Athens Academy heading into this week, there certainly is now. The No. 9 Dragons (5-0) will no doubt be motivated a bit more for Friday’s clash by some post-game comments made by Spartan head coach Mike Gunn following last Friday night’s home loss to No. 6 Lincoln County in Athens.
Gunn was quoted following the defeat to the Red Devils as saying Jefferson’s schedule thus far had been less than challenging, while implying that their No. 9 ranking was a merely a reflection of that..
Referring to the fact that his team’s defeat ruined a chance to have two unbeaten teams play in the region opener Friday, Gunn was quoted as saying the following according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “They (Jefferson) haven’t played anybody.”
Earlier this week though, the Academy skipper challenged the validity of those comments and took a decidedly more respectful tone when talking about his team’s upcoming opponent.
“I think that I was a little bit mis-quoted on that. I hate that it came out like that,” Gunn explained. “Jefferson beat us last year, so I’d be stupid not to have respect for them. It probably wouldn’t do any good to call over there and apologize. I imagine it’ll end up on a bulletin board anyway.”
Despite backing away from the comments, Gunn noted that his team’s schedule thus far was certainly a tough one, however he stopped short of comparing it to the one Jefferson has played so far this season. The game against the Red Devils was particularly difficult, he said. “It was a tough one for us to swallow. Hopefully we’ll be able to learn from it.”
It appears Gunn’s estimation of his words providing added motivation for Jefferson was dead right. According to Dragon head coach Bill Navas the comments were certainly noticed by those at Jefferson.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on the cover of our scouting report this week,” Navas said of the comments.
Mostly though, the Jefferson coach downplayed the remarks and noted that it will be on the field that this week’s crucial Region 8-A game will be decided. “It really didn’t do anything. We’ve still got to find a way to beat them,” Navas explained. “That’s his opinion, it’s the way he chose to carry himself....our kids are relatively self motivated.”
However, senior defensive lineman/offensive lineman and team leader Kalan Mason had a different take on the comments offered up by Gunn last weekend.
“I believe it’s going to be a dog fight,” Mason said. “I believe he (Gunn) is going to have a different perspective come Friday.”
Perhaps more important than using the comments as motivation for Friday may be what has been a strong Jefferson defense this season finding a way to slow down the Spartans’ I-formation offense, Navas said.
But, he said he hopes the Dragon offense’s ability to control the ball will keep Spartan quarterback Chris Rogers and company from having an impact.
“They’re going to try and wear us down and line up those big boys and run that quarterback at us. Then, when he gets tired, they’re going to give it to their tailback (Beau Gilmore),” Navas explained.
Senior linebacker/offensive lineman Kory Potts said he’s hopeful that in the end the toughness and work ethic Jefferson has shown this year will prevail, despite what he sees as an athletic disadvantage on Friday.
“They’re no doubt more athletic than us, but I believe we’re tougher than they are and I know we’ve outworked them,” Potts said.


Champs again
MCHS clinches sub-area title, high seed at sectionals
The sweep, the one-upmanship in the rivalry — that was all fine and good.
But when Madison County downed Jackson County in a 6-4 extra-inning affair this past Thursday night in Jefferson, the victor definitely left with the spoils. Thanks to its second win of the year over the second-place Panthers, Madison County will go into the state sectional tournament as either a one or two seed after clinching the sub-area title for the second year in a row.
“It was big for us,” Raider softball coach Doug Kesler said. “It gave us a number one or two seed and that’s what made it important. That other stuff — the rivalry and sweeping them which we haven’t done in a few years — that was nice. But the really important thing was getting that one or two seed at the state sectionals.”
Thanks to a change in the area tournament format, the first-place teams from each sub-area will by-pass the double-elimination bracket and play in a separate best-of-three series that will determine the top two seedings at the state sectionals.
Following the sub-area clincher over Jackson County, Madison County went ahead and ran its North sub-area record to 7-0 with an 11-1 win over Habersham Central this past Tuesday behind a nine-run fourth inning. Now, the team is one victory away from running the table in the sub-area at 8-0. The Raiders will go for that mark Thursday when they face Clarke Central at 6 p.m.
But no matter the results now, Madison County is assured no worse than a two seed come sectional time.
The postseason positioning was earned late this past Thursday when the Raiders scored three times in the top of the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and then held the Panthers to one run in the bottom of the eighth to pull out another tight contest with Jackson County.
Six out of the last seven meetings between the Raiders and Panthers have been decided by two runs or less.
Sarah Tippins picked up the win for Madison County, her second of the year over the Panthers.
The Raiders’ first two extra-inning scores came when both Melissa Elrod and Laura Baird both crossed the plate after an errant throw from catcher Brooke Hughes in an attempt to pick off Elrod at third. Rebecca Rhoden then scored the third run on a two-out infield hit by Kayla Westmoreland to give her team a 6-3 lead.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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