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SPORTS SECTION

SPORTS SECTION - OCTOBER 27, 1999

1999 Local Football Schedules


Banks County to host top-ranked Tigers Friday
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Banks County will celebrate its own before it takes on a tough foe.
Banks County High School will celebrate Senior Night Friday before the Leopards' football game with Commerce.
Senior athletes from fall sports will be recognized in a brief ceremony to start at 7 p.m. The football game will follow at 7:30 p.m.
When the game starts, Banks County will be playing one of the top-ranked teams in the state in Commerce.
The Tigers are ranked number one in the Atlanta Journal-Constitiution poll and second in The Associated Press poll. Part of the reason for being held in high regard comes from the explosive offensive potential.
"They've got a very good football team," Banks County coach Rance Gillespie said. "They've got a lot of weapons that can hurt you."
Last Friday night, Commerce used part of their arsenal through the air for big-time production.
Junior Michael Collins caught eight passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns to help lead Commerce to a 35-20 win over Rabun County.
He has scored 12 touchdowns through the air on 654 yards receiving.
Junior running back Monté Williams is also back after breaking his ankle in a playoff game last November.
Deferring to the passing game last week, Williams gained 21 yards on the ground against Rabun County. Those were enough to give him his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season.
Quarterback Daniel Carder has 809 yards passing on the season for 13 touchdowns.
He also has seven touchbacks, 18 extra points and one field goal as a kicker.
OPEN WEEK
Banks County did not play last Friday, allowing the Leopards to spend time on getting better, Gillespie said.
"Things went pretty good," Gillespie said. "We had a couple of real good days. We spent some extra time on some things that needed to be fixed."
Banks County will enter the game with a healthy squad.
"We've had some people with bumps and bruises, but nothing serious," Gillespie said. "We've been pretty fortunate with injuries this year."

Hoops season around corner
Opening game Nov. 23 at Oglethorpe County
The Banks County High School basketball teams have already begun practice. The Leopard teams will open the season the Tuesday before Thanksgiving on Nov. 23 against Oglethorpe County in Lexington.
BCHS will waste no time opening up its Region 8-A North schedule, taking on Rabun Gap on the following Tuesday.
The game against the Indians will also be the home opener for Banks County. BCHS will host Commerce the following Friday for the first home weekend game on Dec. 3.
The boys' team has several players still involved with football.
The girls' team is working closer to full strength, coaches say.




Air Commerce Routs Rabun County
Collins, Carder, Tigers Set School Records For Yards Through The Air
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Rabun County wanted to stop the run. Then they couldn't stop the pass. The result saw Commerce have a record-setting night on its way to a 35-20 win.
The victory kept alive the 21-game home winning streak for the Tigers and kept them in a first-place tie in Region 8-A with Buford.
But the story of the night was the Carder-Collins connection.
Senior quarterback Daniel Carder and junior receiver Michael Collins had teamed up for nearly 400 yards and eight touchdowns through the first six games of the season. Friday night, the pair picked up the modest pace to incredible proportions.
The pair combined for 314 yards through the air for four touchdowns. Collins set the school record for pass receptions in a game with 262. Carder threw for 297 yards, also a school record. The pair switched positions in the third period, as Collins threw to Carder for a 17-yard gain to set up another score.
All the yards through the air did not have Commerce's coach upset about the running game, which produced 81 yards.
"We never got a chance to run the ball," Savage said. "It was just one of those nights. It's not like we chunked it up 30 or 40 times. Daniel and Michael just had a great night. How often does a night like that come along?"
For Commerce, never.
The team finished with 329 yards passing, combining Carder, Collins and Rob Brown's numbers. That total was 53 yards better than the best any other Tiger team had thrown the ball.
Last year, Collins had some trouble keeping his hands on the ball. All season long, and especially Friday night, he has hauled in nearly everything thrown to him.
"I have better concentration this year," Collins said. "I think I matured a lot from last year. When I miss a ball now, I still get frustrated with myself, but not like last year. I would get mad at myself and didn't catch the ball."
Collins has had plenty to happy about himself this season. He has 654 yards receiving for 12 touchdowns. He also has 123 yards passing and 53 yards rushing. He is the starting punter with a 43.6 yard per boot average.
Carder exorcised some demons from last year's loss at Rabun County, adding 316 yards of total offense. He was also perfect on all five point after kicks. A missed point after at the end of the game would have tied the score in 1998.
"I was glad to make all of them," Carder said. "I didn't want to miss that last one. I got a little bit of payback."
The game began slowly, looking like the two teams were headed for defensive battle. Both teams punted on their first two possessions.
Commerce then took to the air and never looked back.
Carder hit a pass to Monté Williams for 35 yards on the first play of the third drive. Two passes to Collins had Commerce on the board 7-0.
The Tigers forced Rabun County out on three plays and a punt. Commerce then scored on its next play, a 60-yard Carder-to-Collins pass.
The Wildcats were forced to punt again without gaining a first down.
Commerce used a 73-yard pass from Carder to Collins to make the score 21-0 with 9:00 left in the half.
Rabun County gained yards up the middle to drive for its first touchdown on the next drive. Two penalties against the Tigers also helped the Wildcat march.
Rabun County scored to cut the lead to 21-7, but they left 3:28 on the clock for Commerce.
Before the scoring drive by the Wilcats, the Commerce defense had not given up a first down.
Two passes to Collins put the ball on the 2. Two runs by Williams put the ball in the end zone. The Tigers took the 28-7 lead into the intermission.
Rabun County's first drive of the second half stalled. A punt gave Commerce the ball at its own 22. Collins went under center and engineered a drive to the Rabun County 35.
Carder went back to quarterback on a fourth and 17 play, teaming up with Collins one last time for a 35-yard touchdown with 1:50 to go in the third quarter.
Commerce put in their junior varsity players to finish the game. Rabun County scored its other two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Most of Carder's 809 yards have gone to Collins this season. But having a favorite target has its advantages.
"I never get tired of throwing to Mikey," Carder said. "If I throw it out there, he's going to catch it. If I underthrow him, he can come back and get it."
One of the main reasons Carder and Collins had time to put up big numbers came from the protection the offensive line gave.
"The offensive line gave plenty of time to find (Collins)," Carder said.
The protection was good in the eyes of the Tiger coach, too.
"They didn't pressure him but one time," Savage said. "About the third pass Daniel threw, he fluttered it out there and Monté came back and caught it."
Williams, who was called on to run the ball 40 times in the Tigers' last game against Greater Atlanta Christian, had 21 yards rushing on seven carries.
Those yards were good enough to give the junior his third straight 1,000-yard season rushing.
Rabun County falls to 5-2 and 3-2 in the region with the loss.


Panthers to face 'cream of the crop'
By Tim Thomas
and Ben Munro

If good competition makes a team better, Jackson County should soon be much improved. In the next two weeks, the Panthers will hone their skills against two of the best teams in class AAA, Dacula (6-1) and Oconee County (7-0), before finishing at West Hall (2-5).
"They're the cream of the crop in the region," said Jackson County head coach Greg Lowe of Dacula and Oconee. "It's real unfortunate they're not going to play one another."
Asked of his team's chances, Lowe replied, "On paper, things don't look too hopeful, but that's not where the game's played. If we get some breaks, who knows what might happen."
Against Madison County last week, the Panthers endured their seventh loss of the season, and 16th in a row, falling to the Red Raiders 32-13. Madison County employed a strong ball-control offense that allowed the Panthers only nine offensive plays in the first half.
Madison County senior tailback Drew Sparks put the Raiders up in the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run. The point-after missed.
Terry Blackwell tried to spark the Panthers by recovering a fumble on the Madison County 36. The threat would not last long, as Raider Travis Moore intercepted Quen Usher at the five on a fourth-down pass. Madison County took advantage of the miscue and drove 95 yards in 16 plays to score with 25 seconds remaining in the half. The two point attempt failed, and Madison County led 12-0 at halftime.
The second half opened with Jackson County in good field position, around midfield. Usher drove his team to the Raider 38 before being intercepted again. The Madison County defender raced 55 yards for the score, and the extra point put the Raiders up 19-0.
Four minutes later, the Panthers lost the ball on downs at the Madison County 34. Two plays later, the Raiders were in the end zone again, extending their lead to 2-0.
Jackson County found the end zone late in the third quarter, thanks to a fumble on a Raider punt return. Sam Veal took a five-yard pass from Usher and rumbled in for the first Panther score.
After yet another Madison County score, Ski Harris took off on an impressive 90-yard touchdown run with only 40 seconds remaining to finish the scoring at 32-13.
"I think Madison did what they needed to do," said Lowe. "Their linemen are real large, and we had a hard time with them. They controlled the ball a lot; that's what he [Raider coach Tom Hybl] likes to do."
Lowe pointed to lack of interest as a major factor in his team's struggles this season. The Panthers started this season with only 30 players.
"We're really going to beat the bushes in the off-season," he said. "I'd really like to play both a varsity and a junior varsity squad next year."

Parr qualifies for state meet
By Tim Thomas
EVEN though she was a bit under the weather, Jackson County's Carly Parr managed Tuesday to qualify for the class AAA state cross country meet. The state meet will be held Nov. 6, in Carrollton.
Parr has seen limited action with the cross country team due to her softball commitment, but finished a strong third in Tuesday's 8-AAA championship race at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder.
"We hope to get her healthy, so she can be a little faster for the state meet," said coach Brent Mikel after the meet. Mikel was the meet director, as Jackson County served as the host team.
"It's a bittersweet time," said Mikel. "I'm happy for Carly, but I know this will be the last time some of these kids will compete."
In addition to Parr, team members Jennifer Miller, Anthony White, Josh Davis and Steven Bowles will all graduate this spring.
"I want to thank our seniors for their leadership this year," Mikel commented. "We had a terrific bunch that helped foster a welcome team environment for all the runners. I especially thank Anthony White for serving as the leader for the seniors, and for leading team warm-ups at all our meets."
North Gwinnett was the big winner at the meet, taking the girls' varsity championship and boys' runner-up, as well as winning both the boys' and girls' JV titles.
Oconee County won the boys' championship, while West Hall was runner-up for the girls. The top two varsity teams and top six individual finishers qualified for the state meet.
In the girls' race, Sara Freeland (22:10), Miller (26:11), CiCi Davis (26:22), and Nicole Rizzo (28:03) all set new personal best marks Tuesday. The girls' team finished a respectable sixth in the region, only one point behind fifth-place Central Gwinnett.
White led the varsity boys to an eighth place finish with his 14th place time of 18:17. Other Panther boys running were Kelly Parr (19:24), William Butler (20:44), Thomas Bowles (21:45), Adam Hughes (22:13), Davis (23:26) and S. Bowles (27:02).
For the JV team, Megan Lerette won the girls' race with another school-record JV time of 22:51. Savannah Sharrett followed closely in third at 23:20. Lerette and Sharrett have gone back and forth with new JV girls' records three times in as many weeks.
"Megan keeps it for a little while now that the season is over," remarked a proud Mikel. Daniel Elder took sixth in the JV boys' race with a time of 20 minutes even.



Dragons fall at Buford
By Tim Thomas
After becoming the latest victim of the Buford Wolves' march toward the post-season, the Jefferson Dragons will take a week off before hosting Banks County.
Last week, Jefferson managed only 92 offensive yards against a Buford defense that has been among the best in class A this year. Jefferson coach Bob Gurley was impressed.
"They played as good a defense as we've played against, maybe in the last couple of years," Gurley said. "I think we had more offense than anybody that's played them, but they just had too many athletes on the field."
Buford also seemed to get all the good breaks, despite themselves. The Wolves responded to a clipping penalty that backed them up to their own 13 with an 87-yard touchdown run. A fumbled reverse bounced back into the runner's hands. A touchdown was called back due to a clip inside the one-yard line, only to be scored again two plays later. On their final scoring drive, Buford was penalized three times for 35 yards, but still managed to score on third-and-seven.
"They made a few mistakes," said Gurley, "but it wasn't anything that hurt them."
Running back Stephen Sims got the Dragons off on the right foot Friday. After Buford put six points on the board, Sims capped off a long Jefferson drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Kyle Potts had a key run on the drive, picking up first-and-goal on a third-and-six run from the Buford nine. The point-after was no good, and the game was tied with just under a minute remaining in the first quarter.
The Wolves needed only 47 seconds to re-establish their lead. After a 72-yard scoring drive, Buford missed the PAT for the second time in the game, taking a 12-6 lead into the second quarter.
The Dragons struggled on both sides of the ball from there, as Buford scored twice in the second quarter and twice in the second half. Potts was sacked three times in the second half, and the Jefferson offense could not get past Buford's 45 yard line after Sims' score.
The Wolves were kept from scoring only twice on the night, once by the clock in the fourth, and once by the Dragon secondary. Near the end of the first half, Buford earned a first down at the Jefferson 23. Dragon defensive backs Ryan Gurley and Wes Massey teamed up to tip away a pass at the goal line on first down, and a second-down pass fell incomplete as the horn sounded.
The Dragons are now in the position of having to rely on someone else to lose in order to make the playoffs



Raiders pummel Panthers 32-13
Sparks powers MCHS to first win with 196 yards
BY BEN MUNRO
This was the way it was supposed to be.
Unlike last season when fans and players were left fuming over a controversial, 14-8 homecoming loss in the final seconds to Habersham Central, it was smiles all around this time as the Red Raiders gave the home crowd a picture perfect scene for homecoming, shellacking the Jackson County Panthers 32-13 to give Madison County a well-earned first win of the year.
"It was a great experience to win - we worked hard for it," said senior offensive/defensive lineman David Brown after the Raiders' 19-point homefield triumph.
In a season marred by near-misses and frustration for the red and gray and their faithful, the win was a breath of fresh air as Madison County, who had only two victories in their last 26 games coming into the contest, came together and put forth a dominating performance on both sides of the football in their second consecutive lopsided victory over the Panthers.
And a huge factor in the Red Raiders' success on the night was their ability to move the ball on the ground, allowing them to build a 26-0 lead by the second half.
The Madison County running attack, which has been potent at times during course of the year, proved to be deadly to the Panthers, who the Raiders have outscored 62-13 over the last two years, as the Raiders ran at them at will all night long, ripping the Jackson County defense for over 300 yards on the ground.
Grabbing a huge chunk of that yardage was senior tailback Drew Sparks, who saved his best homecoming performance for last as he romped for 196 yards on 28 trips.
However, the highlight of Sparks' stellar evening came in the third quarter, when he took a sweep to the right and blazed 64 yards down the right sideline for a score.
Sparks spread the credit around for his near-200 yard effort.
"I just give all the thanks to my offensive linemen," Sparks said.
Defensively, Madison County was impressive as well, holding the Panthers off the board for nearly three quarters, allowing Jackson County their only scores in the closing seconds of the third and fourth quarters.
Linebacker Travis Moore led the Madison County defense with 10 individual tackles, six assists, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Raider head coach Tom Hybl said he was pleased with his squad's effort.
"We were glad to get the win," said Hybl, who noted that his players "kept their heads up" despite their struggles this season.
Madison County came out and established their dominance early on, taking the opening kickoff and marching 70 yards on 12 plays to make the score 6-0.
On the drive Sparks was called on to carry the ball eight times, picking up gains of 14 and 13 yards and also providing the touchdown run from one yard out with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Jackson County attempted to steal the momentum the Raiders gained with the touchdown by recovering a Raider fumble on the Madison County 36 and moving the ball down to the 12-yard line.
However, Moore put a stop to the Panther threat by picking off a fourth down pass attempt by Jackson County quarterback Quen Usher on the five-yard-line.
Madison County took advantage of the Jackson miscue as the Raiders put together a marathon 16-play, 95-yard drive, taking up 7:22 worth of clock.
On the touchdown drive, Tony Freeman, who had 57 yards on 10 carries, picked up a key run in the offensive series, ripping off a 23-yard run on first down to move the squad near midfield.
Brad Kirk provided the score later on in the drive, slamming into the end zone from five yards out with 25 seconds remaining in the first half to put his squad up 12-0.
Madison County failed on their two-point conversion attempt.
Jackson County came out in the second half and started at midfield and moved the ball down to the Raider 38. However, sophomore defensive back Drew Brantley broke the backs of the Panthers on a second down play as he smelled out an Usher pass and was off to the races, intercepting the throw and dashing 55 yards down the right sideline for the score. A Scott Dills extra point gave Madison County a 19-0 advantage with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
"It was an awesome feeling," Brantley said afterward when asked about his game-breaking play. "It was the best feeling in the world. I've never run that hard in my life."
Things would only continue to go downhill from there for the shell-shocked Panthers.
Madison County, who got the ball on their 34 on a turnover on downs, got another quick score as Sparks turned the game into a rout with his long touchdown run on only the second play of the drive.
"It was a great experience," said Sparks of his run. "I've been waiting for that. The run all depended on a block and Brad Kirk made one of the most perfect blocks I've ever seen."
The Raiders' point-after was good, giving them a robust 26-0 lead with 4:07 left in the third.
Jackson County finally found the end zone late in the third quarter, picking up a Raider fumble on a punt return at the Madison County 31 and scoring five plays later on a five-yard touchdown pass from Usher to Adam Donaldson with 16 seconds left in the third.
However, Madison County wasn't quite done putting points on the board as the squad pushed their lead out to 25 points, going 51 yards on eight plays and getting a two-yard touchdown run from Donny Stamper to make the score 32-7 with 9:27 left in the game. The Raiders' extra-point attempt was no good.
The Panthers, on an otherwise forgetful night for them, did end on a high note as they put six more points on the board in their last possession as tailback Ski Harris ripped off an impressive 90-yard touchdown run with only 40 seconds remaining in the contest.
After the contest, players were abuzz with optimism outside the Raider locker room with the solid win.
"It was just a great win," said senior defensive lineman Scotty Robinson, who had five individual tackles, three assists and one sack. "We were really fired up."
Brown believed the victory will be a positive thing for the team to draw upon as the squad gears up for the final stretch of the season.
"I think this will help us for the rest of the season," Brown said. We feel a lot better and I think we will execute better. It was a confidence booster."



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