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Athlete of the Week: Jefferson's Max Ford
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Honor roll

Baseball

Dakota Chalmers, Lakeview Academy: Hit a home run and had three RBIs, while also picking up the save with three strikeouts and a walk against St. Francis.

Dallas Deavers, Lakeview Academy: Hit a two-run home run against Riverside, and had six strikeouts on the mound to record a win against St. Francis.

Colton Duttweiler, North Hall: Pitched seven innings and allowed five hits to get the win against Flowery Branch.

Zach English, West Hall: Threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 loss to Chestatee, with the lone run being score on an error.

Will Flowers, White County: Went 3 for 3 with three doubles and four RBIs against Hart County, and hit a home run and had three RBIs against Lumpkin County.

Jake Franklin, Jefferson: Recorded eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings and no earned runs in a win over East Jackson.

Tanner Gable, Chestatee: Pitched a complete-game four-hit, eight-strikeout shutout against West Hall.

Jonathan Gettys, Gainesville: Had seven strikeouts and one hit allowed in five innings to get the win against Habersham Central.

Michael Gettys, Gainesville: Had three hits and two RBIs at the plate and recorded 10 strikeouts and just one walk over five innings to get the win against Mountain View, and had two hits and an RBI in a win over Habersham Central.

Sims Griffith, Gainesville: Hit a grand slam in a win over Mountain View.

Daniel McCrary, Lumpkin County: Had five RBIs and two runs scored on a 2-for-3 night at the plate and struck out nine over four innings in a win over White County.

Zach Mize, North Hall: Had three hits and three RBIs, while pitching two innings in a win against North Forsyth.

Brett Westmoreland, White County: Went 2 for 3 with a home run and three runs scored against Hart County, and had five RBIs with a grand slam on a 2-for-3 night against Lumpkin County.

Tennis

Seth Black, Lakeview Academy: Won 8-0 against George Walton Academy.

Blaine Brown/Juan Carrion, Chestatee: Won the No. 1 doubles match 6-0, 6-0 against Stephens County.

Min Kim/Johnny Griffing, West Hall: Won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles against Banks County.

Grayson Kyle/Min Kim, West Hall: Won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles against Fannin County.

Lee Allen Martin, Lakeview Academy: Won 8-0 against George Walton Academy.

Tatum Scroggs, West Hall: Won his No. 2 singles match 6-0, 6-0 against Fannin County.

Connor Thomas, Lakeview Academy: Won 8-0 against George Walton Academy.

Merritt Wilburn, Riverside Military: Won 6-0, 6-0 against Jefferson.

Reagan Williams, Gainesville: won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles against Heritage.

Max Wilson, West Hall: Won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles against Banks County.

Golf

Jackson Bishop, Gainesville: Carded a 70 in the Apple Mountain Invitational.

Pep Brown, Gainesville: Carded a 70 in the Apple Mountain Invitational.

Lawson King, Gainesville: Carded a 72 in the Apple Mountain Invitational.

Nathan Williams, Gainesville: Carded a 74 in the Apple Mountain Invitational.

Soccer

Jonathan Beltran, Flowery Branch: Allowed one goal and recorded 10 saves in a win over Apalachee.

Compiled by Zac Taylor

Jefferson junior Max Ford has been a key part of the team’s 8-1 start this season as a big contributor in all three phases of the game.

At the plate he’s helped power a Dragons’ offense that has scored at least 10 runs in its last seven games — all wins — including outscoring the last three opponents 56-0.

On the mound he’s the team’s most reliable pitcher, starting four of the nine games.

And in the field, the shortstop is at the center of the defensive effort when he’s not on the mound.

“He’s been one of our go-to guys on the mound and he hits from the fourth spot for us,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “So we’re depending on him to get them in and get them out.”

Last week, he did it all in a pair of wins, going 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs and recording seven strikeouts over five innings in a 10-1 win Monday against Elbert County, and went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored against in Wednesday’s 10-0 defeat of East Jackson.

For his efforts, Ford is The Times Boys Athlete of the Week.

While he’s been starting at shortstop and pitched on varsity since his freshman year, Knight said Ford’s grown into the role of team leader he now holds.

“He’s always been a very good shortstop, his hands are second to none,” Knight said. “He wasn’t very big as a freshman, but he’s probably grown three inches, and gained 30-40 pounds in the last three years. We’ve watched him grow up, and now he can drive the ball to all different parts of the field.

“He’s gotten bigger and stronger, and he’s able to do a lot more now than his freshman year.”

One of the key’s to his development has been the weight room, according to Knight. The coach said Ford started getting serious about lifting a year and a half ago, not a surprising development considering the work ethic Ford possesses.

“I would classify him as a field rat,” Knight said. “He’s always wanting to work on something to get better, and that’s probably one of the reasons he’s gotten better.

“The last year and a half he’s really dedicated himself in the weight room, and it’s become a big part of his success.”

Ford added that the focus on the weight room has improved not just him, but the whole team.

“That’s definitely helped a lot, we definitely get after it in the weight room,” he said. “That’s helped everyone. Everybody’s bigger and faster than last year.”

And after the first two games of the season, in which the Dragons scored just three runs combined and went 1-1, while leaving many chances on the basepaths, the hitting has come to life.

“After our first two games our bats really started coming together,” Ford said. “We’ve definitely been hitting the ball a lot better.”

Knight added that it was Ford who was still hitting even in the tough first two games of the season, a 3-1 loss to Oconee County and a 2-1 win over North Oconee to start the eight-game winning streak.

While he was more of a singles hitter as a freshman, Knight said the junior can now hit to all parts of the field and has become more of a doubles hitter.

On the mound, Ford’s success is tied to the fact that he can hit all parts of the strike zone, and in any count with any pitch.

Ford said pitching is his favorite aspect of the game, although he likes to be involved in all of it. And, with an “average” 80-something mph fastball, he said that using his offspeed pitches whenever he wants have been his best path to success.

“He throws a lot of strikes, and he can throw strikes with any pitch, any part of the count,” Knight said. “He just knows what he’s doing; he’s not a thrower at all, he’s a pitcher.

“He’s probably our go-to guy if we need to win a game.”

Maybe the biggest recent development for Ford has not been on the field, but off it. Formerly a purely lead-by-example player, the junior is starting to embrace the role of an all-around team leader.

“He’s kind of a quiet kid, and I don’t think he said a word his freshman year,” Knight said. “Last year he got more vocal, and now he’s not just trying to lead by example but have a voice, so he’s become a vocal leader for us.”

Knight added that he’ll work with younger teammates to get better, imparting his knowledge of the game to the up-and-coming players in order to keep the team headed in the right direction. Friday’s 27-0 win over Greene County in the second game of a doubleheader — the Dragons won 19-0 in the first game — would say so.

Today, Jefferson plays Region 8-AA opponent Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, and will be looking for its ninth consecutive win.

“We’ve been hitting and pitching well, but right now we’re working on being a bit better defensive team,” Knight said. “We put all of those things together and we’ve got the chance to be a pretty good team and challenge for a region title.”

Last year the team reached the second round before falling to Catoosa. This year, the goal is to go at least as far, if not further.

“We really want to make a run in the playoffs and go pretty deep,” Ford added, “and we’ve got the team to do it, as long as everybody stays healthy.”

If that happens, it’s likely that Ford’s handprints will be all over the accomplishment.

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