|MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
|SPORTS SECTION - SEPTEMBER 22, 1999|
|1999 Local Football Schedules|
County hosts Wesleyan
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Banks County (1-2) will try to even its record this week as the Leopards host Wesleyan Friday night.
Wesleyan, a private school in Gwinnett County, is playing its second year of varsity football. Last season, they took little time settling in, going 4-4 in Region 8-A. They were in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season. The Wolves bested Banks County 30-22 last year in Norcross.
"They're a good football team," Banks County coach Rance Gillespie said. "They've got their good running back from last year back. Their new quarterback has a lot of ability. Coach (Will) Jackson is trying to build a program. He's got some quality kids. He's got things rolling."
Wesleyan (1-1) has started off 1999 with a win over Georgia Military College and a loss to Athens Academy. Some key players in last year's team were lost to graduation, including former Atlanta Falcon quarterback Steve Bartkowski's son Phil. But leading ground-gainer Jake Humphrey is back after rushing for 1,125 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1998.
Wesleyan will try to move the ball in much the same way as Banks County, Gillespie said.
"On offense, they're pretty similar to what we do," Gillespie said. "They run the option and the sweep out of the I. They don't break the I as much as we do. And they probably don't throw as much as we do."
Defensively, the Wolves may offer Banks County a challenge by running multiple sets.
"They start with a 4-3 base defense, but they get to just about everything," Gillespie said. "That gives us a lot of things to prepare for. Our kids will have to make the adjustments on the field."
After starting off the season at home, Banks County played its next two games on the road. Gillespie said he is pleased to have a contest back in Homer.
"I'm glad to be back home this week," Gillespie said. "You've got your home-field advantage. And it's nice to play in front of your people."
Start Helps Commerce Rout Dragons
BY DREW BRANTLEY
While the teams did play the rest of the 48 minutes, Commerce had a 56-27 win over Jefferson pretty much wrapped up in the first 13 seconds.
Junior Michael Collins returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for the first Tiger touchdown that set the tone early.
Commerce added four more first half touchdowns to take a 35-6 lead at halftime.
"We were fortunate to get out to an early lead," Commerce coach Steve Savage said. "Everything we did worked. (Quarterback) Daniel (Carder) had a good night throwing the ball. We blocked well and we ran the ball well."
Collins added a 48-yard touchdown run, keeping the ball as quarterback on an option play. He also completed three passes to Carder for 67 yards.
Carder teamed up through the air with Collins three times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Collins added his second interception of the year to stop a Dragons' drive in the second quarter.
"I love throwing the ball, and I love catching the ball," Carder said. "I just like being out there with the ball in my hands."
Monté Williams added 215 yards rushing on 18 carries and four touchdowns.
Williams had 13 carries on the night that were good for either first downs or scores.
Commerce finished the night with 444 total yards of offense.
The win gave Commerce's seniors a four-year sweep over the Dragons.
"It feels great," Senior Tiger Russ Brown said. "This is the best thing that's ever happened to me."
The defense held Jefferson running back Stephen Sims to limited effectiveness in the first half. Sims finished the night with 235 yards and three touchdowns. But Sims had 83 yards on 17 carries for one score against the starting Commerce defense. Playing against Commerce's younger players, Sims had three scores, including one 80-yard run.
After Collins' kickoff return put the Tigers up with 11:47 to go in the first period. The Commerce defense made quick work of the Dragons' first drive. Sims had two runs for four yards before the Tiger surge trapped Jefferson's quarterback for a loss, forcing a punt.
Commerce took over at its 47 and used a simple recipe for its second touchdown. Williams ran six of the seven plays on the drive that took less than three minutes to produce points.
Jefferson responded with a 73-yard drive for a touchdown on its next drive.
The Dragons ran 11 plays, seven of which went to Sims. Jefferson's big back finished off the drive with a five-yard run with 1:37 left in the first period. Commerce blocked the extra point to keep a 14-6 lead.
Lamar Daniel took the kickoff back to the Tiger 35 to set up the next drive.
This time, Williams needed three carries to find the end zone. A 42-yard run on his first carry of the drive put the ball on the Dragon 23.
Williams' third rush for 11 yards put six more points on the board. Carder, who was perfect on eight point after attempts, put Commerce up 21-6.
The Tiger defense held Jefferson on the next drive. Commerce took the ball at its 25 and used the air to cover most of the ground. Carder hit Collins for a 14-yard out and then a 44-yard bomb Collins fell over backwards in a crowd to make the catch.
Williams ran in from 17 yards two plays later to put the Tigers up, 28-6.
Collins intercepted a double pass attempt by the Dragons later in the period, taking the ball down to the Jefferson 33.
He then caught a pass over his shoulder from Carder to put up the fifth touchdown of the first half for Commerce. Jefferson's first two drives of the second half were stopped by Commerce. The second ended with an interception by Adam Bagwell.
Backup tailback Daniel had two carries for 14 yards on the ensuing drive, including a scoring run from the 2. Carder caught a 29 yard pass from Collins to pick up most of the yards on the quick march.
Jefferson picked up three more touchdowns in the second half, all against the Tigers' junior varsity defense.
Commerce put its starters back in the game after Jefferson's top players had pushed the score to 42-20.
Williams added a four-yard score. Collins ran the option at quarterback for a 48-yard scoring scamper later in the fourth period.
Commerce improved its all-time edge in the series to 34-15-5.
Battered Panthers to begin home stand
By TIM THOMAS
There are times when you have to do things that you know beforehand are going to be painful. For the Jackson County Panthers, Friday night was one of those times.
After enduring a 47-0 bashing at the hands of region 8-AAA powerhouse Stephens County, the bruised Panthers will begin a five-week home stand this week against the Newton Rams. Newton is fresh off a 34-15 victory over Madison County.
Coach Greg Lowe said that despite the lopsided loss, he was pleased with some of the things his team did.
"Stephens County turned it up a notch on us, and we didn't answer," Lowe said. "It's really easy to sit back and indict across the board [after a big loss], but there are some things we did well." Lowe mentioned pass protection as a bright spot, as well as the tackling of the team's defensive backs. The problem with that, as Lowe saw it, is that the defensive backs should not have to make so many tackles.
Of this week's opponent, Lowe said, "Newton is real talented. They played Stephens County close in the opening game." Lowe also said that he expects Newton to continue using the I-formation on offense, and multiple formations on defense. He labeled Newton as "a formidable challenge."
At Stephens County, the Panthers fell behind early and struggled to get their offense going.
Stephens' opening play from scrimmage set the stage, as the Indians gained 16 yards to the Panther 49. After a three-yard gain, a 38-yard pass completion set the Indians up for their first score of the night. The PAT was low, and Stephens led 6-0 after just ninety seconds.
After the Panthers went three-and-out, the Indians marched 54 yards in eight plays for their second touchdown. A good tackle by Brad Smith at the nine delayed the score. The two-point conversion put Stephens County up 14-0.
The Panther offense could muster only 33 yards before punting again. Coverage was excellent, and the Stephens County return man was held to no gain. Three plays later, the Indians used their only punt of the night. It was a low liner that gave Jackson County great field position early in the second quarter, at the Stephens County 41.
Again, Jackson County's offense was anemic at best, and the Panthers punted away after gaining only five yards on the possession.
Stephens County took only seven plays to drive 80 yards for their third score. The drive was highlighted by a 48-yard pass completion to the Panther 29.
Two minutes later, quarterback Quen Usher threw his only interception of the evening. It was returned for another Stephens County score. After another missed PAT, the Indians led 27-0 with five minutes left in the half.
The Panthers' best opportunity of the game began to unfold on the next drive. Usher guided his team as deep as the Indians' 39, before being chased out of the pocket on third-and-8. Jackson County's punting squad came through with another big play, pinning the Indians at their own 2.
With 40 seconds remaining in the half, the Panthers recovered a Stephens County fumble at the 11.
The Panthers were in an obvious passing situation, and Stephens County defended it well. Four attempts into the end zone failed before the half ended.
Jackson County's offense struggled even more in the second half, earning only 56 total yards. The biggest gain of the half was a great play by Usher on an option play in the fourth.
From the Panther 31, Usher ran the option right. After gaining five yards, he tossed the ball to the trailing back, who gained another nine yards, to the 45.
Stephens County continued to roll, scoring on three of four drives in the second half.
Senior Hank Barnett was injured on the final play of the game. Lowe said earlier this week that Barnett, who sees action at both split end and defensive back, will be held out of contact during practice, but should be ready to play Friday.
New coach steers 2-1 squad to Danielsville
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Tim Hammontree established a winning tradition in Maryville, Tenn., leading his team to two state championships while compiling a 60-18 record as a high school head coach.
Now the first-year North Gwinnett coach is hoping to put some new hardware in the Bulldogs' trophy case. Hammontree has his team off to a solid 2-1 start, rebounding from a season-opening 26-7 loss to Buford with a 21-19 win over Habersham Central and a 37-6 drubbing of North Hall Friday.
The coach's next stop is Danielsville, but the Madison County squad, aching from three straight losses, won't be laying out any welcome mats when the teams square off at 8 p.m. Friday.
The Raiders are hurting and a win against North Gwinnett would be just the thing to mend wounds.
Madison County head coach Tom Hybl said his team stepped up the intensity last week in a 34-15 loss to Newton but executed horribly.
He said the Raiders will work in practice this week on correcting the mistakes that resulted in eight turnovers and over 100 yards in penalties Friday.
"We've got to get better," he said. "There's nothing else we can do."
Despite the Raiders' troublesome beginning, Hammontree said he is wary of Madison County.
"They're a well-coached, strong football team," said Hammontree. "They demand your respect because they'll tell you what they're going to do and then run right over you."
Though the Raiders have shown a potent ground attack at times, the team has struggled through the air.
Meanwhile, North Gwinnett has mixed things up on offense, running and passing with equal success, according to Hammontree, who said his team averages between 290 and 310 yards of total offense a game, running the ball on about 35 snaps and throwing approximately 25 times per outing.
Hammontree's team, which has 23 seniors and 86 players in the sophomore to senior classes, returns seven starters from last year's 6-4 squad.
The new coach said his top players are senior defensive linemen Derrick Watson and Demetrie Lawrence as well as linebackers Tripp Smith and Ricky Park. Standouts on offense are senior center Pat O'Rouke and senior running back Brad Standridge.
Hammontree said his team has a "good kicking game" but "needs to solidify the offensive line."
Hybl, who notes the Bulldogs' depth as an advantage for his opponent, said North Gwinnett is an "excellent team" with a "wide open offense" and "excellent special teams."
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