Sports

Eagles, Murphy soar past Lions; move to 1-1

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BY CHARLES PHELPS
cphelps@clickthepaper.com
COMMERCE —After last Friday’s loss, East Jackson Eagles’ head coach Gary Hughes said his team had to limit turnovers to stay in games.
On their first two drives against the Lakeview Academy Lions, fumbles stalled promising drives, but didn’t dampen the offense’s resiliency, or spirit.
The Eagles notched their first victory of 2014, defeating the Lions 13-6 on a defensive stand with under two minutes left, Friday night at East Jackson.
They also matched their win total from the 2013 season.
East Jackson senior running back Taylor Murphy rushed for a game-high 216 yards and one touchdown. He also had one catch for 15 yards.
Junior quarterback Cody Harwick threw for 77 yards and sophomore kicker Ronan Veal connected on field goals from 23 and 27, respectively.
“It was very similar to last week,” East Jackson head coach Gary Hughes said. “I felt like we controlled the line of scrimmage offensively.”

Late turnover dooms Panthers in season opener

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BY Kyle Funderburk
An abundance of mental errors and 20-unanswered second-half Madison County Red Raider points proved costly for the Jackson County Panther football team on Friday night.
The Red Raiders downed the Panthers 27-21 in the Panthers’ season-opening game at Jackson County.
The Panthers (0-1, 0-0) turned the ball over five times, the last being a fumble returned 38 yards for the Red Raiders’ go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, we wanted to win the game,” Jackson County head coach Benji Harrison said.
“We were in good position to do that in the first half, but we didn’t come out with enough focus in the second half. We made too many mental mistakes, and obviously, we turned the ball over. We will learn from that. One game does not define us.”

Lady Panthers scorch Jefferson on road

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BY CHARLES PHELPS
cphelps@clickthepaper.com
 
JEFFERSON-The Jackson County Lady Panthers’ softball team hasn’t had a lot of trouble producing runs in games as of late.
 
And, Thursday night was no exception.
 
The Lady Panthers defeated the Jefferson Lady Dragons 15-5 in five innings at DeMaris Gurley Field. They have outscored opponents 35-13 in their last five games and have won four their last five games, as well.
 
“That’s the first game all season where we jumped out of the gate,” Jackson County head coach Chessie Laird said. “We’ve been waiting on that one. That was huge for us.
 
“So many good things can happen when you start right out of the gate.”
 
Jackson County’s next game is Tuesday at home against region rival Elbert County.

 

Lady Dragons rolls Red Devils

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From The Paper staff reports
 
sports@clickthepaper.com
 
The Jefferson Lady Dragons’ volleyball team swept the Loganville Lady Red Devils 25-29, 25-12 and 25-13 in a best-of-five-set match.
 
The Lady Dragons (8-6, 1-1 Region 8-AAA) jumped out to early leads in all three sets behind good serving and passing. Grace Williamson recorded nine aces, five digs and three kills. Abby Wood added nine kills and four aces.
 
Jefferson hosts region rivals Hart and Morgan counties on Thursday afternoon at Jefferson High School.

Football previews

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Jackson County Panthers will host Madison County on Friday night. Below is information on that matchup and other Friday night previews:
Madison County (1-0, 0-0) at Jackson County (0-0, 0-0)
 
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday night
 
Where: Jackson County Comprehension High School
 
Head Coaches: Chris Smith, Madison County; Benji Harrison, Jackson County
 
Players To Watch: Madison County, Cade Hancock, QB, Dylan Gentry, WR/DB, Ethan South, RB; Jackson County, Jacob Lewis, QB, Adrian Parsons, WR, Griffin McElvery, LB
 
The Panthers opens its 2014 campaign tomorrow night at home against non-region opponent Madison County. The Red Raiders are coming off a 31-3 victory last week over Johnson High School out of Gainesville.
 
In their only tune-up game before the season began, the Panthers clicked on all cylinders against Athens Academy, winning 35-14.
 
Jackson County quarterback Jacob Lewis tossed three first-half touchdowns and rushed for one. Adrian Parsons, Caleb Smith and Antonio Strickland each caught a touchdown.
 
The Panthers return 11 starters (six on offense, five on defense) from 2013.
 
Madison County quarterback Cade Hancock tossed two touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ victory over the Knights last Friday. Wide receiver Dylan Gentry was on the receiving end of one of the touchdowns. He also recovered a fumble for the Red Raiders’ defense, as did Sam Bartlett.
 
Ethan South added a 50-yard touchdown run for the Red Raiders’ offense.
 
Outlook: Stern test for Panthers’ defense to stop the Red Raiders dual-threat offense, but the Panthers’ offense matches them position for position, and Lewis’ leadership ultimately propels Jackson County to 1-0 start.
 
 
 
Mill Creek (0-1, 0-0) at West Forsyth (0-0, 0-0)
 
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday night
 
Where: West Forsyth High School
 
Head Coaches: Shannon Jarvis, Mill Creek; Adam Clack, West Forsyth
 
Players To Watch: Mill Creek, Daniel David, QB, Johnathan Hawkins, RB, Chris Dickhute, DB; West Forsyth, Hampton McConnell, QB, Nathan Schmitz, WR, Ryan Guthrie, S/OLB
 
Mill Creek opened its season against the No. 2-ranked Colquitt County team last Saturday at the Corky Kell Classic. At halftime, the Hawks held a 14-10 lead, but the Packers scored 21-unanswered second-half points to take the victory 31-14.
 
Quarterback Daniel David threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Wide receiver David Curry racked up five catches for 77 yards and touchdown.
 
The Hawks face another stern test in the land of Class AAAAAA football – the West Forsyth Wolverines.
 
This is the season-opening game for the Wolverines and the first in post-Frank Hepler Era. Hepler went 49-18 as a head coach for six seasons. Adam Clack, who had been on Hepler’s staff since the program started in 2007, takes over as head coach.
 
Quarterback Hampton McConnell returns to lead the offense. He will be looking to connect with Nathan Schmitz for big plays. The Wolverines’ defense is led by linebackers Austin Sanders and Ryan Guthrie. But new pieces on both sides of the ball and the departure of running back Trevor O’Brien, who led Forsyth County in rushing yards (1,052) and touchdowns (15) leaves several questions heading into the team’s first game of 2014.  
 
Outlook: After the emotions settle down, the Hawks’ experience on both offense and defense and wanting to redeem themselves from a second-half disaster last week will be the difference in an entertaining game.
 
 
 
Jefferson (1-0, 0-0) at Winder-Barrow (0-0, 0-0)
 
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday night
 
Where: Winder-Barrow High School
 
Head Coaches: Ben Hall, Jefferson; Heath Webb, Winder-Barrow
 
Players To Watch: Jefferson, Evan Shirreffs, QB, Sammy Williams, RB, Tradd Porter, DB; Winder-Barrow, CeCe Green, RB, Anthony Gates, DT, Brandyn Randall, WR
 
The Dragons opened 2014 in a near-flawless capacity, dropping 50 points on the Rabun County Wildcats. The offense had contributors from every position. Quarterback Evan Shirreffs threw for 220 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Dalton Hill caught four passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. He scored on a 5-yard run, as well.
 
Running back Sammy Williams had 64 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
 
The Dragons’ defense did its job against a formidable Wildcat offense, forcing three turnovers (fumble and two interceptions) and recording a safety. Kicker Gage Lawson booted through two field goals, as well.
 
First-year Winder-Barrow head coach Heath Webb takes over a squad that has won six games in six years. However, a nice scrimmage game win over South Forsyth on Aug. 15, 29-28, could be a sign of positive things for the Bulldoggs’ season.
 
The offense is led by talented junior running back CeCe Green and senior wide receiver Brandyn Randall brings veteran leadership to the Bulldoggs’ offense. The defense is anchored by senior defensive tackle Anthony Gates.
 
Outlook: The Dragons’ talent on both sides of the ball will be too much for the Bulldoggs to handle.
 
 
 
Lakeview Academy (0-0, 0-0) at East Jackson (0-1, 0-0)
 
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday night
 
Where: East Jackson Comprehensive High School
 
Head Coaches: Matthew Gruhn, Lakeview Academy; Gary Hughes, East Jackson
 
Players To Watch: Lakeview Academy, David Abee, QB, Tae Turner, RB, Mitchell McIntire, OL/DL; East Jackson, Cody Hardwick, QB, Taylor Murphy, RB, Michael Seagraves, LB
 
After seeing four different head coaches in four years, Gary Hughes is in his second season as East Jackson head coach and has brought stability to the still-building program. The Eagles didn’t open 2014 the way they wanted, suffering a 35-15 loss at the hands of Hebron Christian Academy at home.
 
Amidst three turnovers and a blocked field goal and punt, East Jackson running back Taylor Murphy rushed for a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns. Trevor Presley added 46 yards on seven carries.
 
The Eagles have a chance for redemption as they host their second straight home to start the season. The opponent coming to town is the Lakeview Academy Lions.
 
The Lions are led by head coach Matthew Gruhn. Quarterback David Abee is the signal-caller of the offensive attack. Running back Tae Turner brings explosiveness out of the Lions’ backfield. They also bring a veteran line into the 2014 season: Kyle Larsen, Mitchell McIntire and Jack Lipold.
 
Outlook: East Jackson picks up its first win of 2014 in a close battle.

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