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SPORTS SECTION

SPORTS SECTION - OCTOBER 20, 1999

1999 Local Football Schedules


Leopards to spend open week working on basics
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Banks County (2-5, 1-4) has three games remaining on the schedule, including undefeated Commerce next Friday.
Last week, the Leopards lost to Rabun County 37-7. The Leopards will not play this week, but will maintain a full practice schedule.
Since the team usually prepares for a game on Friday with a light practice on Thursday, a regular week has less practice time.
With Friday off, the team will have a chance to spend more time preparing for the rest of the season.
"We'll use the off week a little differently because we won't have to prepare for anybody," Gillespie said. "We'll have four days of practice and possibly five since we won't have a game. We'll get a chance to go back and work on fundamentals. Sometimes those things can get sloppy. It will be good to get a chance and spend some time on that.
"On a week with a game, Thursday is a day to review the game plan for Friday. You can't spend time going over new things."
Gillespie said that the team is continually making progress on both sides of the ball.
"Our kids are starting to come together," Gillespie said. "Defense is all about folks getting to the football.
"Offense is about execution. Offense, you've got to have 11 guys playing on one heartbeat."
Banks County will host Commerce next Friday in the Leopards' final home game of the season.
Commerce (6-0, 4-0) is in a tie for first place in Region 8-A with Buford. Commerce runs the I-Bone option attack, but has mixed in more than 600 yards passing this year.
The Tigers are once again led by junior running Monté Williams, who has 979 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. He has added two touchdowns receiving and 83 yards.
Classmate Michael Collins has over 500 total yards and nine touchdowns for Commerce.
He has 392 yards receiving, 101 yards passing and 31 yards rushing.
The Tigers won the meeting last year 50-6 in Commerce.

Runners finishing strong
BY DREW BRANTLEY
With the region meet a week away, the Banks County High School cross country team has picked a good time to run their best times.
The team ran Tuesday at Rabun Gap, where the majority of runners turned in personal bests.
"Rabun Gap is always a good course for us," coach Kellie McDuffie said. "We like to run there at the first of the year and at the end. They can really see that they've made improvement."
Both the boys' and girls' teams took third place at the five-school meet. Tallulah Falls, Habersham Central and Galloway were the other teams that joined Banks County and the host Rabun Gap.
Galloway and Habersham Central were first and second, respectively.
"Our girls were 10 points out of second place and our girls were five points back," McDuffie said.
Yoric Erb-Summers had his best time ever with a 21:00. Joey Lincoln (21:04), Ryan Littman (21:33), Corey Morris (21:38) and Matthew Smith (21:44) followed for the Leopards.
Cleve Coley also turned his best time ever with a 22:30.
Heather Bryson led the varsity girls with a 26:10.
Bree Whitlock (26:24), Stephanie Ball (27:10), Kasie Rednour (28:47) and Alesha Williams (28:56) followed for the girls.
Seventh-grader Lauren Reiselt turned in a 24:49 at Rabun Gap for the junior varsity team.
The teams will conclude their seasons next Thursday at the Region 8-A meet at Gainesville College. The top two teams advance to state.




3RD IN STATE
Return Trip To Columbus Yields Strong Finish For Softball Team
BY DREW BRANTLEY
A year can make a big difference.
After losing two close games at last year's Class A state softball tournament, Commerce faced the further loss of nine seniors.
A year later, the Tigers went back to the state tournament in Columbus and returned with a third-place finish.
"I think going last year helped us," coach Donnie Drew said. "I want say that it didn't help us. But this group has a different personality. We lost several more games than we did last year. We had more close games. If we could have won a game last year, I think we could have challenged for a place or even won the thing. We lost both our games by one run."
This year the team put the first two games away with little drama. Commerce recorded a 7-0 shutout of Bryan County and followed with an 8-0 win over Calvary Baptist. Eventual state champion Telfair County edged Commerce 11-10 in the winners' bracket final. Calvary came off two wins in the losers' bracket, including a 9-8 win over the 1998 state champion Irwin County team, to down Commerce 13-3.
Calvary beat Telfair County in the first meeting before falling 5-1 in the championship game.
"In all the years I've been involved with softball, if you're on a roll you get confidence and you play better," Drew said. "As a team coming out of the losers' bracket, I think you have an advantage over a team that's been sitting around for several hours."
Region 8-A champion Jefferson also reached the state tournament, losing 6-3 to Calvary Baptist and 3-0 to Bryan County. The Dragons' defense yielded nine runs in two games, but their offense did not score after the first inning of their first game.
Commerce used early surges to win its first two games. The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning to beat Bryan County. Commerce scored three runs in the first and two in the second to take a 5-0 lead in their first game with Calvary.
The winners' bracket final game saw Commerce get down early. Telfair County scored four runs in the top of the first. The Tigers responded with one in the bottom of the inning with a triple by Charlene Gaither and a sacrifice fly by Elizabeth Roller.
Commerce went scoreless in the second. The Tigers then sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third, scoring seven runs. Ten Tigers reached base in the inning.
Marchenta Hester led off the inning with a single to center. Amanda Stevens followed with a bloop single. Gaither had the third straight single to score Hester.
Roller reached on an error. Shemika Reed hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Stevens and move Gaither to third. Jennifer Seagraves added another single to score Gaither and Roller. Crystal Rainwater followed with a another hit.
Heather Stockton loaded the bases with an infield hit. Seagraves scored next on a single by Loren Flint. Lauren Ladd, the 10th batter of the inning, reached on an error that scored Rainwater. Commerce led 7-4.
Telfair answered the call in the top of the fourth with seven runs on seven hits to take an 11-7 lead. The Trojans would have only four hits for the rest of the game, but Commerce could not level the score on offense.
Gaither and Roller each reached on errors and scored on Seagraves' hit to right field in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 11-9.
Gaither hit her second triple of the game in the bottom of the sixth. She scored when Seagraves reached on an error.
Stockton and Flint both had singles to lead off the seventh, but Commerce could not convert those hits into a run.
Calvary scored four runs in the first and five runs in the fourth on the way to a 13-3 win in the losers' bracket final.
While Stevens and Seagraves are the only seniors lost from this year's team, the impact of their loss to the team will still be felt next year.
"Mathematically things look better for us than they did this year as far as players coming back," Drew said. "It will just depend on how the players we have come back."
"I think we exceeded everyone's expectations, including probably our own this year. It is always tough to get out of our region. There were several years that I thought we had competitive teams. When I went to state and saw the teams that made it there, I thought we could have competed with them. I think we've got one of the strongest regions in North Georgia."




Tigers Remember Rabun Defeat
BY DREW BRANTLEY
A year ago Commerce went to Rabun County and left with a 14-13 tie. A late fourth quarter comeback came up short. That win ultimately gave the Rabun County Wildcats the Region 8-A title.
While that hasn't been the focus of practice, the players back from last year's team have not forgotten about that game.
"This is one of the most important games this season," senior Russ Brown said. "I still haven't gotten over last year."
Commerce had a chance to tie the game on the point-after attempt. One player has been looking forward to a rematch after that chance slipped away.
"I've been looking forward to this big time," senior Daniel Carder said. "I want to play the best game I can to beat them. It came down to the last extra point last year and I shanked it. That's why I want to play good this year."
Carder was on the field. But being injured on the sideline was no greater comfort last year for senior Chad Scoggins.
"I didn't get to play and I think that hurt more," Scoggins said. "Being on the sideline, seeing our team lose and not being able to go out there was tough."
While the players do remember last year's game, their coach has kept them focused on this year's task.
"It's going to be a typical Rabun County football game," coach Steve Savage said. "They will be hard-nosed, well-coached and give us a lot of trouble. But it's just another game in the row. Last year is last year. We've got two totally different teams."
Rabun County (5-2, 3-1 in 8-A) suffered its only loss in the region in a 21-3 defeat at the hands of Buford.
Last week, Rabun County handled Banks County 37-7 in Homer.
Commerce did not play last Friday. Having a week without a game allowed the Tigers to work on improving themselves.
"We just worked on us," Savage said. "Hopefully we did the right things. You never know how to treat the open week. But we're glad to be back playing somebody this week."
The Commerce game will begin at 8 p.m.



Raiders, Panthers look to end droughts
BY ZACH MITCHAM
The scoreboard showed it, but the sideline scene told the real story after last year's 30-7 Raider win over Jackson County in Jefferson. There was Jonathan Pou lifted on coach Mike Haynes' shoulders. There were the parents and fans flooding the field, greeting their victorious loved ones with hugs and praise. There were hoots and howls, high fives and smiles.
It had been a long walk through the desert, a 16-game losing streak. And the Madison County faithful savored the win like a thirsting man might his first good chug of water.
But the 0-6 Madison County team hasn't tasted victory all season and neither has Jackson County, who will travel to Danielsville at 8 p.m. Friday.
One squad will wash away some of the sourness of botched opportunities this year, while the other will choke down yet another bitter pill.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for both teams this season has been depth. Neither squad fields enough players to match up with the tougher teams in Region 8-AAA. Combined, the two teams sport about 70 players, less than the totals of some of the bigger region squads.
The Panthers have been outscored 171-72, outrushed 1,199 to 1,076 yards, and outpassed 617 to 542 yards this year, but second-year Madison County head coach Tom Hybl is wary of the Panthers' ability to move the ball.
"Their numbers are down," said Hybl. "But they've got skilled athletes at running back and quarterback. And they can cause you a lot of problems on offense. They line up in 40 different formations and show you every look under the sun."
Leading Jackson County on the ground is Ski Harris, who has 553 yards and four touchdowns on 109 carries. Harris is also second on the team in tackling with 29 first hits and 14 assists.
Rodrick Gresham is the Panthers' leading receiver with 15 receptions for 243 yards and one touchdown. He also leads the team in tackles with 41 first hits and 16 assists.
Jackson County's quarterback Quen Usher, who - along with halfback Sam Veal - is hobbling a bit from a knee injury, has completed 43 of 101 passes for 542 yards, including one touchdown and seven interceptions.
First-year Panther head coach Greg Lowe said both squads are struggling but that neither is a bad team.
"I know they're 0-6 just like us," said Lowe. "But they're not that bad a ball team and neither are we....Coach Hybl is like me. He likes to see four yards and a cloud of dust."
Last year Madison County jumped out to an early 16-0 lead in the first quarter en route to the 23-point victory. Brad Kirk led the Raiders with 179 yards on 38 carries.
Jackson Herald sports reporter Tim Thomas contributed to this article.



Lady Dragons finish at 22-10
By Tim Thomas
Although they failed to earn a win in Saturday's state slow-pitch softball tournament, Jefferson's Lady Dragons must be pleased with their performance this season.
Jefferson finished with a 22-10 record, winning the region 8-A championship along the way. This season also marked the first time Jefferson has qualified for the state tournament.
Round one of the state tourney saw Jefferson fall to Calvary Baptist, 6-3. Calvary went on to finish as the state runner-up for the second time in four years.
Jefferson's 3-0 loss to Bryan County later in the day wrapped up the Lady Dragons' season.
Irwin County entered the state tournament with a perfect 33-0 mark, but was upset in round two by Telfair County and later by Calvary Baptist.
Irwin had previously beaten Telfair in their sectional tournament. Telfair went on to defeat Calvary in the final to win the state title.
The Lady Dragons should be able to improve again next year, as the team will lose only two starters and one bench player to graduation.

Dragons to face region powerhouse
By Tim Thomas
What a difference a week can make. Last week, the Jefferson Dragons hosted Towns County, a team which has elected not to play a region schedule next year.
This week, coach Bob Gurley marches his troops to Buford to take on the Wolves. Buford is regarded as one of the best teams in class A this year. The Wolves demolished Greater Atlanta Christian last week, 33-14. Jefferson broke a 21-year losing streak against Buford last year with a 14-0 win that propelled the team into the playoffs.
"Buford has the best defense and special teams we've seen all year," said Gurley. "It's going to be tough." Buford's special teams scored touchdowns last week off both a blocked punt and a kickoff return.
Against Towns County, the Dragons had some trouble getting out of the gate. Shane Wilburn scored the first touchdown of the game midway through the second quarter. Wilburn ran in from 31 yards out for the score.
Quarterback Kyle Potts led the Dragons to their second score at the end of the first half. Jefferson took the ball on Towns County's 42-yard line with only nine seconds remaining. Potts hit Ryan Gurley for a 36-yard gain, then went to Justin Gooch as the half ended to put the Dragons up 14-0.
Wilburn scored his second touchdown of the night with 9:02 left in the third quarter. A little more than two minutes later, Stephen Sims rumbled in from 15 yards out to make it 28-0.
Potts finished the scoring early in the fourth, connecting with Gooch for a 37-yard stike to make the final score 35-0.
"We didn't play well in the first half," said Gurley. "We started off real sluggish and had some penalties that cost us. Stephen Sims had an 80-yard run called back. But we came out after halftime and took control of the game."
Wilburn filled in defensively for Sims, grabbing an interception along the way. According to Gurley, it was Wilburn's best performance of the season.


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