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Leopards look to answer the call

POSTED: August 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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The 2008 Banks County High School Leopards

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Before the season ended last year, Banks County almost surprised its entire region.
Down 26-6 in the first half of a Region 8-AA playoff game, the Leopards rallied to tie Washington-Wilkes, the favorite to win, at halftime.

Banks County lost the game, but the effort put forth in the first half of their final game showed what kind of team they could become.

Although the Leopards finished 4-6 and missed the state playoffs for the 10th straight season, the numbers accumulated in those games were better than previous years. They averaged 26 points per game and 30 points allowed in 2007, an improvement from 16 per game and 34 allowed per game in 2006. Their 3-1 subregion record was also good for second in 8B-AA.

“Last year our goal was to make the playoffs,” Leopards coach Blair Armstrong said. “We just hadn’t learned how to finish yet. Once the players learn how to win again, they’ll answer the call.”

Like many of Armstrong’s teams in the past, Banks County’s offense will come from its wing-T formation and a high-speed rushing game. Senior running back Justin Beasley, who ran for 1,657 yards last season, returns as the primary rusher this year. He will be joined with Demetric Dempson, who makes his debut in the backfield.

The Leopards also introduce a new quarterback this year in senior Tyler Porter, who moves from wide receiver and defensive back. The majority of his passes may go to receiver Brandon Law and tight end Jeff Smith.

Porter will be protected well in his first year of calling snaps, with two offensive lineman running 4.8-second 40-yard dash times in Zach Dale and Lyn Hester, along with senior center Justin Bowen.
Defensively, the Leopards return seven players. Hester is slated at defensive end, and is joined in the trenches by 275-pound tackle Tyler Hulsey.

Behind the line, senior Billy Pinson, the team’s second-leading tackler last season, returns at middle linebacker.

With 19 total seniors and starters returning on both sides of the ball this year, Banks County’s chances of being a region contender are only getting better.

“We feel like we’re very competitive,” “We feel like we have a chance at being a top four team.”


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