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SPORTS SECTION

SPORTS SECTION - SEPTEMBER 8, 1999

1999 Local Football Schedules

Leopards gain a little more ground
Banks County wins first game in 13 tries by penetration over JCCHS
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Banks County High School's latest football path began at a place it would like to return to and went through a stretch no one wants to revisit.
After losing its 1997 regular season finale to Jefferson, the subregion champs headed to a playoff game loss to Crawford County 12-0. The Leopards then endured 10 losses last season. That drought came to an end Friday night as Banks County edged Jackson County 9-8 by penetration in overtime.


ESCAPING THE PANTHERS' GRASP
Leopard quarterback Drew Gowder looks for room to run against the Panthers Friday night. Gowder had 38 yards rushing and added 114 yards passing on seven completions.


Banks County overcame four turnovers and made two goal line stands against the Panthers, who were plagued by penalties at opportune times for Banks County.
Two straight scoring plays in the first half for Jackson County were called back due to penalties. Banks County took advantage and kept the Panthers from scoring.
"We kept preaching to them before the game, 'This thing is going to go up and go down,'" Banks County coach Rance Gillespie said. "'You can't get way up and can't let it kill us when things go bad.' I thought they did a heck of a job. They stayed level and kept fighting."
Hank Jones led the Leopards' 164-yard rushing attack with 18 carries for 72 yards. Jones and Joe Krause, who gained 43 yards on 16 carries, handled 34 of the team's 45 rushes. Jones also contributed the lone Leopard touchdown.
"It feels nice," Jones said. "Tonight was the first touchdown I've ever scored."
Jones and Krause took many of their running plays between the tackles, taking blows from the Panther defenders. Getting hit was no problem for the backfield tandem.
"It feels good," Krause said. "I don't care how much I get hit. It just feels good to win."
Junior Leopard quarterback Drew Gowder helped give Banks County a balanced assault through the air and on the ground with 114 yards, completing seven of 12 attempts. He also ran six times for 38 yards. As quarterback as a sophomore, Gowder saw limited success. Coming back with a good game this year was a boost, he said.
"Coming off last year, it helps a lot," Gowder said. "I'm trying to get used to it and get my confidence back."
While the Leopards had three 12 passes to 45 runs, the chances through the air paid off with big rewards.
Gowder connected with Mike Ivey for a 47-yard pass play that moved the ball to the Jackson County 15, helping set up the Leopard touchdown.
Krause also teamed up with Gowder for a 25-yard pass play in the first half of overtime to convert a third-and-long for the Leopards. Blakley Crumley's catch and run moved the team down to its furthest penetration in the first extra period.
Banks County earned the penetration point by holding the ball for the entire first overtime period and marching to the Panthers' 4. Jackson County could only move the ball to the Leopards' 33.


Commerce Holds Off Red Raiders' Rumbling Offense
BY DREW BRANTLEY & BY BEN MUNRO
Leading 22-8 late in the fourth quarter, Commerce coach Steve Savage thought the Tigers had wrapped up another win over Madison County. But the potent Red Raider rushing attack added a touchdown and an onside kick recovery with just more than three minutes to play.
The Tiger defense held off the final surge to seal the 22-16 victory.
"I thought we had the thing put away up 22-8," Savage said. "The next thing I know, they've scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and are staring at us ready to win the game."


Commerce sophomore defensive back Lamar Daniels lunges for a tackle on the Madison County runner in the Tigers' 22-16 win over the Red Raiders last Friday. The Tigers take on Franklin County this Friday in their home opener.
Commerce had 169 yards rushing, but struck paydirt through the air, while Madison County powered up ground-gaining drives behind its big offensive line.
Collins finished the night with three catches for three scores and 85 yards. He added 12 tackles on defense and two punts for a 46-yard average.
Daniel Carder led the team in his first game as the starting quarterback with the three completions to Collins. He added 24 yards rushing.
"I thought for his first game, Daniel Carder played very well," Savage said. "He did a good job of throwing the ball, and running the offense."
Williams had 132 rushing yards on 15 carries for his 12th straight 100-yard game.
"I thought Madison County played extremely well," Savage said. "They're pretty good at what they do. Their backs didn't miss a hole."
Senior linebacker Eric Moore led the Tiger tacklers with 13 hits. Twion Shealer added 10 total tackles. Tyson Brown and Casey Gary each had nine stops.


Madison County looks to rebound versus W. Hall
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County will try to erase the memory of a tough loss to Commerce last week with a win at West Hall Friday.
The 0-1 Raiders and 1-0 Spartans, who will kick off at 7:30 p.m., are both looking to improve on their respective 2-8 and 3-7 campaigns last year.
West Hall, which defeated Madison County 21-12 in 1998, got off on the right foot last week with a 20-7 win over Johnson, rushing for 205 yards. Senior Dontrice Stephens ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns and freshman Damien Dowell led the Spartans with 99 yards on the ground.
Raider head coach Tom Hybl said his team will have its hands full against a deep West Hall squad. He said the Spartans have a good option game and perhaps the best linebacker in Region 8-AAA, Godfrey Cook, 6'3", 220 lbs.
"He's a whale of a player," said Hybl of Cook. "We didn't block him a down last year."


ALL WRAPPED UP
Madison County's Travis Moore sacks Commerce quarterback Daniel Carder as Raiders Scotty Robinson (50), Brandon Hayes (57) and Ryan Simmons (72) look on.



Don Marchman, West Hall's coach for the past six years, has 10 returning starters - five on offense and defense - from last year's team. The coach said his squad must cut down on mistakes to be successful.
"We've got to learn to take care of the ball," said Marchman, whose team runs out of the I-formation on offense and 4-3 on defense. "We had a lot of turnovers last year."
Marchman's run-oriented team is deep, while the Raiders are short on numbers. But the Spartan coach admits his team has some question marks on offense and defense.
"Our success depends on our offensive line and our secondary," said Marchman.
Last year, West Hall defeated Madison County 21-12 in Danielsville. The Raiders had a chance to tie the game late as senior Steve Sanders connected with classmate Thomas Munro for a fourth down, 10-yard touchdown strike with just over three minutes remaining in the game, bringing Madison County within two, 14-12. But the Raiders' two-point conversion attempt was no good. West Hall sealed the victory with a 15-yard score with 46 seconds left in the game.
While Raider fans may be disappointed with a the 22-16 loss to Commerce Friday, there were plenty of positives.
Consider that Commerce's Monte Williams may have been in the area spotlight, with many wanting to see if the star running back had recovered from last year's injury. But it was the Raider running attack, led by Drew Sparks' 156 yards, that shined brightest Friday, with 313 yards on the ground to Commerce's 169 - 130 from Williams.
The Raiders also made no turnovers and committed no penalties.
"That's great for a first game or for any game," said Hybl of his team's mistake-free showing.
Hybl added: "We played pretty hard and had a couple of chances to win. We just didn't capitalize...We had a good effort and that's what you look for."
Commerce coach Steve Savage said the Raiders gave his club a real scare Friday night.
"Those guys (Madison County) are huge," Savage told The Commerce News. "Bigger than they were last year and they move around better. Their backs didn't miss a hole."



Dragons roar to 47-18 win
By Tim Thomas
The Jefferson Dragons will host Georgia Military College this week after winning in a big way over Glascock County in the season opener.
The Dragons scored on six of their eight posessions in the first half en route to a 47-18 victory. Jefferson running back Stephen Sims left the game late in the second quarter, having already rushed for 138 yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries.
Even though only two passes were thrown, the Jefferson offense was balanced well, as 10 different players earned yardage for the team. "Coach McCord tries to spread it around," said head coach Bob Gurley. "There was no need to pass the ball; we were doing whatever we wanted to on the ground."

GOING FOR THE GOAL
Dragon running back Stephen Sims leaps towards the goal line despite Glascock County defenders' clutches. Sims had 138 yards and four touchdowns in Jefferson's win.


Quarterback Kyle Potts' two passes both resulted in touchdowns. The first was intercepted and returned 64 yards for Glascock County's first score. The second was a 33-yard completion to Roderick Young that put Jefferson up 34-12 with three minutes remaining in the first half.
Jefferson's longest play from scrimmage was a 71-yard touchdown run off a quarterback keeper by Wes Massey in the third quarter.
Sims and Massey led the rushing charge, with Eric Wilburn close behind with 59 yards and a touchdown on three carries.



Panthers fall short in overtime to Banks County
By Tim Thomas and Drew Brantley
The Jackson County Panthers lost their first game of the season this week in overtime. Banks County edged the Panthers on penetration, taking the win 9-8.
Banks County overcame four turnovers and made two goal line stands against the Panthers, who were plagued by penalties.
Two straight scoring plays in the first half for Jackson County were called back due to penalties. Banks County took advantage and kept the Panthers from scoring.

USHER VS. RUSHERS
Panthers quarterback Quen Usher turns the ball upfield on a keeper in Jackson County Comprehensive High School's loss 9-8 loss in overtime to Banks County. The Panthers will host Central Gwinnett this week in the home and Region 8-AAA opener.


The teams agreed before the game to go to overtime if tied after four quarters. Teams play two five-minute halves in the extra period. If the score remains tied at the end of overtime, the team that advanced closest to the other's goal is awarded one point.
Each school's principal marks the point of their team's furthest advance.
All region games must go to overtime. Non-region contests that are tied after regulation go to overtime if both teams agree to it before the start of the game.
Jackson County will host Central Gwinnett this week. Lowe said his team must avoid costly penalties and fumbles in order to compete. "They've got a fine back," he said." They gave Collins Hill everything they wanted [last week]."


Thanks, coach
By Tim Thomas
Each of us, looking back on our lives, can see the influence of others. Everyone we meet has an effect on what we become, for better or worse.
Even those we hold in high regard from a distance affect us. When Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa hit a home run, millions of kids watching want to hit one, too.
No doubt Ty Cobb, unquestionably the greatest baseball player ever, inspired thousands of kids to push themselves to perform beyond their natural abilities. And maybe to slide in to second with their cleats in the air. And, unfortunately, maybe to cuss and drink and philander. You get the picture.
My greatest sources of influence (aside from Jesus Christ) have been my father and grandfather. They, more than anyone, contributed to my transition to manhood.
There is one other man, however, who pushed me more than anyone else, under whose guidance I could accomplish more than my abilities might allow. I know he'll wish I hadn't written this, but it needs to be said. Forgive me, coach.
People across Georgia, and further, have a great deal of respect for Coach Jack Keen. And rightly so. His accomplishments in coaching speak for themselves - numerous state championships in multiple sports, a pile of individual champions and records, years of success with the Georgia Olympics, all with one school.
But those who have never sat in Coach Keen's math class are missing most of the picture. I've never had an instructor, in any subject, who stimulated my intellect more. I wish I could explain the depth of his teaching, but it defies words. Perhaps the fact that his students have chosen him Star Teacher twenty-something times will give you an idea.
Keen has the ability to lift students and athletes above their natural levels - to spur them to drive hard, rather than just coast. One particular incident brought that to life for me.
During my senior year at Jefferson, I injured my neck in an early-season wrestling match. Coach Keen allowed me to rest for several weeks, hoping I'd be well in time for the area tournament.
Well, I got lazy. My few workouts were very low-key. My weight ballooned, and when the last match of the season came around, Coach Keen put me on the spot. He asked me to wrestle up two weight classes. I couldn't keep it a secret any longer; we were a week away from the area tournament, and I couldn't make weight two whole classes above where I should be.
Those of you who don't think coaches should get upset with their athletes, please quit reading now. I usually don't like it, either. But most of the time, those on the outside don't know the whole story. He did, and he was furious. I don't remember the exact words he used - there was no foul language - but I'll never forget how I felt as I stood there looking at my shoes.
You can guess how difficult it is for a 133-pound teenager to lose 13 pounds in a week. But I did it. He had earned my respect, and I wanted to make him proud. If he hadn't laid into me that night, it never would have happened.
This is not the best example, just the one that comes to mind. There are dozens of you out there who have others.
I have expressed my appreciation to Coach Keen in private, but I'm glad to have the opportunity to do so publicly. Coach, there are many folks who've had an impact on my life, for good and bad. Yours has always been good. And for that I and hundreds of other former students and athletes owe you our thanks.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.


First Week Full Of Football Action
By Drew Brantley
If people don't know, they will soon learn that Commerce football means more than Monté Williams. While Williams got his 12th straight 100-yard rushing game, he was not the only star of the game.
Michael Collins caught three passes for 85 yards. That seems like a good enough effort. But all three catches were for scores. In fact, they were the only touchdowns of the game by the Tigers. Daniel Carder tossed the passes that Collins caught. Carder threw one other incomplete pass, providing Commerce with a potent attack in a 22-16 win over Madison County.
Collins also added 12 tackles from his safety position on defense
Banks County didn't waste time cleaning the slate after last year's 0-10 mark. A 9-8 win over Jackson County by penetration in overtime was good enough to put the Leopards topside. Jackson County hurt its own cause with 195 yards of penalties. Combined with the Panther penalty yards, Banks County had a pretty good night. Penalties and a reluctant Leopard defense cost Jackson County three scoring chances
Something is different about Class A football this year. Either, for the first time inwell forever, Lincoln County is actually down, or Buford has overcome the loss of Tim Wansley and his bunch to be a team to contend again.
Last year's 4-6 effort by the Wolves was an aberration. Friday night's win over the Red Devils is a pretty clear indication of that. I am not ready to give up on Lincoln County. I don't think anybody else should, either.
Buford will play Class AAA North Gwinnett this week. This should be another good test to see if last Friday was a fluke. After playing each other for several years, this week's game with the Bulldogs will reportedly be the last
Drew Brantley is the sports editor for The Commerce News and The Banks County News.


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