This past Friday night, the Leopards picked up their first win of the season after a long-spirited week of homecoming festivities. With a crowded stadium, the Leopards did not disappoint their home base and beat the Lumpkin Indians with a score of 28-16.
After playing two non-region games and falling a little short, the gridiron Leopards were hungry coming into the game and ready to get back on the winning track before heading into region play.
During the first half, the Leopards were quick to score at the 8:20 mark as Bowen Roberts ran for the Leopards' first touchdown.
After the excitement of the first touchdown, Banks held Lumpkin on their first offensive series to a punt after Roman Haynes and Roberts combined for a tackle for loss and a sack. After three plays on the ensuing drive, the first quarter ended with Banks leading 6-0.
Two plays later into the second quarter, Andrew Shockley had a long touchdown run, putting Banks County up 12-0 at the 11:45 mark in the second quarter. On the point after attempt, Roberts ran the ball in for a 2 point conversion, making the score 14-0. The kickoff to Lumpkin started the Indian's second offensive series, and after their 8th play, Lumpkin turned the ball over on downs.
During the series, Cade Herrin got in the action with two tackles for loss, ending the Indian's drive at the 7-minute mark.
On the third offensive series, penalties plagued Banks County's attack, and they were forced to punt to Lumpkin. Lumpkin took over at the 3:44 mark, and after two incomplete passes and a penalty, Lumpkin turned the ball back over to Banks. At the 3:09 mark, Banks took over with runs by Roberts, Shockley, and Cade Herrin, which advanced the Leopards to the 3-yard line. With 23 seconds left in the half, Roberts scores on a 3-yard touchdown run.
At the end of the half, the score was 20-0.
The Lumpkin Indians made several adjustments to slow down Banks County's run game going into the second half.
On a missed snap from the Banks County offense, Lumpkin scored their two points of the game with a safety. After the safety, the Leopards kickoff allowed Lumpkin to score by using the field advantage.
During the fourth quarter, with a secure lead, the Leopards gave their starting crew a rest and secured playing time for some of the younger players. Lumpkin scored on the last drive with six plays.
The final score was 26-16.
Roberts, Shockley, and Haynes not only played big for the Leopards, but they also dominated in rushing yards, touchdowns, and all-purpose offensive yardage.
Roberts was 5 for 12 in the air, 53 rushing, and 106 total purpose yardage. He also picked 2 TDs
Shockley, who had one of the best games of his high school career, had 175 rushing yards.
Haynes had 63 total yards and 2 TDs.
Other key players for the game were Cam Cooper, Issiah Storm, Jonathon Burkett, Shane Roberts, Lukas Marlow, Robert Walker, Eli Ward, Kellon Walley, Talmadge Wilkinson, Aubrey Allen, Clay Smith, and Ashton Camp.
Head coach Jay Reid stated that the win Friday night was a collective effort from his players, coaches, and community support.
"There is nothing better than playing Friday night football under the Banks County lights," he said. "Watching our boys celebrate is a good feeling. They deserve the credit. Of course, it is great to win, but knowing that these boys are becoming incredible young men, is a great feeling. Banks County is a great place to be."
"Bowen Roberts, Andrew Shockley, and Cade Herrin played phenomenally. They played with everything they had, and I couldn't be proud of them", he said of the trio, who collectively had 344 yards for the game.
He added, "'Robert Walker probably had his best game for us, and Cam Cooper played incredibly well."
Reid was overall impressed with his team, even during the second half when the Lumpkin Indians were able to stop the onslaught of the first half.
"We were confident with our lead to try some different things out during the second half, we got some younger players in, even though the scoreboard didn't show it during the half, we were doing some good things," said Reid.
Kellon Walley has stepped in to help the Leopards kicking game. Reid has been impressed with Walley's ability to step in to fill that void.
"Walley is an all-area player," he said. "He has the ability to help us wherever we need him to."
Going into this week's game against Fannin, the team's goals will include reducing penalties, special teams, gameplays, and processes.
"Some of our varsity boys only played three junior varsity games last year and never got the repetition of playing smart football," Reid said. "Those are the gaps we have to fill. I don't mind when we get a penalty that is a 'play hard' penalty. We just have to learn to minimize the holding calls and learn to have arms inside the frame of the body. We can fix those things."