A week off and a back to basics approach is what the Banks County Leopards are taking into this Friday’s game with region powerhouse Jefferson.
The Leopards have had a less than stellar season so far, as Banks sits 2-3 in region play; 2-4 overall. With four games left and the Dragons on deck for Friday night, Banks County has one shot left to hold onto its goal of returning to the postseason.
The Dragons remain undefeated this season in an effort to mirror last year’s performance that took Jefferson into the second round of the playoffs. Leopards’ coach Blair Armstrong did not mince words when he said that most people would favor Jefferson in Friday’s game.
“Jefferson is strong all the way around,” said Armstrong. “They have no obvious weaknesses … Probably everyone is favoring Jefferson for the win.”
The past week off provided the Leopards with a chance to prepare for Jefferson and allowed time for the team to get back to almost full strength.
“We are just about back health wise,” said Armstrong, adding that due to illness and injuries the Leopards’ back field has been lacking due to the absences.
“Clay Frink’s and Dean Ewing’s shoulders have healed up and they are back on the field.”
While the return of several players from the bench will give the Leopards a boost Friday night, Armstrong know that it is going to take more to knock out the Dragons.
“We are a pretty good team, and we are going to do our best,” said Armstrong. “We are going to have to execute. Last year we rose to the occasion and surprised a few people, now we have to execute our offense.”
During the 2008 campaign, Banks County was the only team to score more than 20 points during the regular season against Jefferson. Jefferson took the win 34-22, but were not expecting the fight that the Leopards brought.
“The big thing for us is not to let their undefeated streak get in our heads,” Armstrong said. “It is going to be a competition and we are going to work hard.”
Banks County still has a young program, according to Armstrong.
“We have players that just started when I came here and are in that three year program,” said Armstrong. “We are still young, but the program is showing promise and we have seniors and juniors that step up.”
Armstrong also commented that some younger players like sophomore Homer Carver and freshman Eli Smallwood have been given valuable experience on the field this season as the upperclassman players were out to sickness or injury.
“Our young guys have got some good playing time, and they are good players that will benefit us as they gain experience.”
With the team gearing up for a fight on Friday, last week and this week has been spent “getting back to basics”.
“We had practice last week and hopefully three days this week due to the weather,” Armstrong said. “We are working on our execution.”
During an earlier interview, Armstrong commented that if Banks County can play its best game and Jefferson slips up just a little, the Leopards have a shot at winning the ballgame.
On paper, Jefferson is 6-0 overall; 5-0 region with an average scoring of 45 points per game. Banks County is 2-4;2-3 scoring an average 15 points per game. For Banks to remain in the running for a playoff spot, the Leopards must win out the final four games of the season.
Friday’s game will be in Jefferson.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.