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Lady Bobcats rediscover their roar

Just over 24 hours removed from their longest road trip of the season, and having already lost once to Crown College earlier this season, GNTC head coach Carrie Powell had reason for concern when her Lady Bobcats took the floor on Monday night at the Rossville Athletic Center in a rematch against the Crusaders.

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Friday 09/26/2014
Baseball: Ringgold Baseball Academy set for September
Updated: September 26, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Ringgold High School fifth annual Baseball Academy is scheduled to take place for groups of 12 pitching and hitting. Group times will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. or 7:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. The academy will run four consecutive weeks starting Sept 2-3. The cost is $100.00. Contact Ringgold baseball head coach Brent Tucker at btucker.rhs@catoosa.k12.ga.us to reserve your time.

NGAC Football: LaFayette passes Ringgold test, moves to 4-0
Updated: September 26, 2014 - 1:40 am

After cruising to blowout wins in their first three outings of the season, the LaFayette Middle School Ramblers got their first true test on Thursday, on the road, at unbeaten Ringgold.

NGAC Softball: LaFayette shuts out Saddle Ridge
Updated: September 26, 2014 - 1:35 am

The LaFayette Middle School softball team scored six runs in the first inning and four in the second before going on to a 10-0, five-inning win over Saddle Ridge on Thursday.

NGAC Football: Big plays lift Rossville to shutout win
Updated: September 26, 2014 - 1:37 am

The Rossville Middle School Bulldogs scored seven touchdowns of more than 25 yards and handed Gordon Lee a 56-0 defeat in an NGAC West Division game in Chickamauga on Thursday.

Wednesday 09/24/2014
Tony Stewart will not face charges in deadly crash
Posted: September 24, 2014

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (AP) — Prosecutors announced Wednesday that a grand jury had decided against bringing criminal charges against three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in the August death of a driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said the victim, Kevin Ward Jr., was under the influence of marijuana the night of the accident "enough to impair judgment." And he said two videos examined by investigators showed "no aberrational driving by Tony Stewart."

The decision came nearly seven weeks after Stewart's car struck and killed Ward during a dirt track race on Aug. 9. Stewart, the brash and popular NASCAR driver known as "Smoke," spent three weeks in seclusion following what he called a tragic accident before quietly returning to the Sprint Cup circuit. One of the biggest stars in the garage, Stewart has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts but is winless this year and did not make the championship Chase field.

"This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever," Stewart said in a prepared statement. "While much of the attention has been on me, it's important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.'s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers."

Tantillo could have determined the case on his own but last week said he would take it to a grand jury. Experts said it would have been difficult to prove criminal intent, but the prosecutor asked the grand jury to consider charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

"There were not 12 votes to either charge," he said.

A call placed to the Ward family's home went unanswered.

Sheriff Philip Povero spent weeks investigating, several times saying investigators did not have evidence to suggest Stewart meant to harm the other driver at the track in tiny Canandaigua. Ward had spun while racing alongside Stewart and then the 20-year-old climbed out of his car and walked down the track, waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront the 43-year-old NASCAR veteran.

Authorities said the first car to pass Ward had to swerve to miss hitting him. The front of Stewart's car appeared to clear Ward, but Ward was struck by the right rear tire and hurtled through the air. He died of blunt force trauma and his father later told a newspaper there was "no reason" for the death given Stewart's skills and experience.

The sheriff asked in the days after Ward's death for spectators to turn over photos and videos of the crash as investigators worked to reconstruct the accident. Among the things being looked at were the dim lighting, how muddy it was and whether Ward's dark firesuit played a role in his death, given the conditions.

A fan's video was widely circulated after Ward's death, but details of the second video obtained by the sheriff have not been made public.

Stewart, who Povero described as "visibly shaken" after Ward's death, vowed to cooperate in the investigation but he did not testify before the grand jury. He issued a brief statement expressing deep sadness and then dropped off the radar, missing races at Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol before coming back for the Aug. 31 race at Atlanta.

Looking far different then the fiery driver his fans love, Stewart quietly read a statement at a news conference in which he said the death of a driver he hit was "one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with."

"This is something that will definitely affect my life forever," Stewart said then. "This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and mourning that Kevin Ward's family and friends are experiencing is something that I can't possibly imagine."

Stewart's peers were protective of him as questions emerged in the aftermath of the crash, and it pained them that Stewart was grieving in private and had cut off communication with so many of them. They welcomed him back in Atlanta, and fans gave him a robust cheer, too. Two days later during the race, his No. 14 Chevrolet slammed into the wall twice and Stewart settled for a dismal 41st-place finish.

After Ward's death, NASCAR announced a rule that prohibits drivers from climbing out of a crashed or disabled vehicle — unless it is on fire — until safety personnel arrive. The series also cleared the way for Stewart to make its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with a win, despite missing the three races.

Stewart, who is from Columbus, Indiana, has long been one of the most proficient drivers in racing, winning in every kind of series, from sprint cars to the elite Sprint Cup Series. He has for years taken part in little races in nondescript towns because he loves the thrill of the high horsepower, lightweight cars skidding around the dirt.

He rarely made his schedule public, popping up when he pleased, and he was welcome at the clay track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park the night before the NASCAR race in nearby Watkins Glen.

There have been very few criminal prosecutions stemming from incidents that occur during competition.

There have been two cases in the last 14 years in which NHL players were charged for their actions on the ice. Marty McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon for hitting Donald Brashear with a stick during a 2000 game, and Todd Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for punching Colorado's Steve Moore in 2004.

But it's extremely rare for incidents during auto races to bring police scrutiny and Povero emphasized that his was an "on-track crash investigation."

Research by The Associated Press dating to 2003 turned up no cases in which a driver was charged for his role in an on-track incident. Team owner James Sink was found guilty of misdemeanor assault of driver Maynard Peters after a bloody 2005 post-race fight in North Carolina. In 2003, NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer was under investigation for assault after punching Kurt Busch in the face following a race at Michigan, but Busch asked for his complaint to be dropped.

Legal experts believe the case against Stewart would have been very difficult to prove.

"Death happens in a very dangerous sport, and this was driver vs. driver and Ward stepped on the track," said David Weinstein, a former state and federal prosecutor in Miami who is now in private practice. "The only person who really knows what happened is Tony Stewart, and it's impossible for a prosecutor to get inside his head."


Fryer reported from Charlotte, North Carolina. Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

NGAC Softball: LaFayette topples Trion
Updated: September 24, 2014 - 2:05 pm

Two big innings were enough to propel the LaFayette Middle School Lady Ramblers to a 12-3 NGAC softball win over Trion on Tuesday.

NGAC Volleyball: Saddle Ridge holds on to beat CVMS
Updated: September 24, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Despite being without the services of two starters, the Saddle Ridge Lady Mustangs varsity volleyball team was able to hold off visiting Chattanooga Valley, 25-22, 25-22, in an NGAC contest on Tuesday.

NGAC Volleyball: Gordon Lee downs Rossville on the road
Updated: September 24, 2014 - 2:00 pm

The Gordon Lee Middle School volleyball team got nine aces and a pair of kills from Hannah Willerson as they picked up a 25-13, 25-7 NGAC victory at Rossville on Tuesday.

NGAC Softball: Foster, James homer in CVMS win
Updated: September 24, 2014 - 2:02 pm

Kierra Foster went 3-for-3 with a stolen base and four RBIs, including a three-run home run, as the Chattanooga Valley Middle School Lady Eagles avenged a loss to Rossville earlier this season with a 8-0 victory on Tuesday.

NGAC Softball: Gordon Lee slugs their way past Saddle Ridge
Updated: September 24, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Christen Isbell was 3-for-3 and Paxton Grimes blasted her second home run of the season - a three-run shot in the fourth inning - as Gordon Lee moved to 8-1 in NGAC play with a 9-1 win over Saddle Ridge on Tuesday.

Tuesday 09/23/2014
What's next for the Braves after firing GM Wren
Posted: September 23, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the Atlanta Braves are searching for a general manager.

Frank Wren was fired Monday with a week to go in the regular season, taking the fall for a late-season collapse that knocked the Braves out of playoff contention.

This will be only the sixth time in the last 23 completed seasons that the Braves missed the postseason, with a team that will be remembered mostly for its feeble offense. A few hours after Wren's dismissal, the Braves lost to Pittsburgh 1-0 for their 15th defeat in 19 games — and sixth shutout during that span.

With the Braves preparing to move to suburban Cobb County in 2017, corporate owners Liberty Media are surely aware that attendance is in danger of finishing at its lowest point since 1991. They will want a GM who can quickly overhaul the roster to make sure the team cashes in on its new stadium.

Here are things to watch for as the Braves begin their search for a general manager:

SEARCH COMMITTEE: The hiring will be conducted by a three-man committee comprised of team president John Schuerholz, interim general manager John Hart and retired manager Bobby Cox. All three have extensive GM experience, though there are questions about the lack of youth on the panel. Schuerholz and Cox are both 73, while Hart is 66. Are they out of touch with some of the newer player-evaluation techniques? "We are well-represented there," Schuerholz insisted. "Our baseball world has turned to that. We are analyzing numbers as much as we analyze a guy being able to backhand a ball and throw somebody out at first base. We're doing that. It's part of our world now. We'd be silly not to have an open mind about it."

POSSIBLE CANDIDATES: The most obvious candidate is Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who began his career in the Braves' organization. But he has two years left on his contract, is a native of Kansas, grew up a Royals fan, and is hugely popular for taking a long-downtrodden franchise to the brink of its first postseason since 1985. Also keep an eye on Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella, who would be another popular pick within the organization. Hart could also be in the running, but he seems more of a fallback position given his age and desire to remain a Braves adviser who doubles as an analyst for the MLB Network.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING: If the Braves don't hire a new GM in the final week of the regular season, which seems unlikely, they would likely have to wait until after the playoffs. Major League Baseball has a rule against major news being announced during the postseason, though a team can ask for a waiver. The Braves would surely like to have someone in place by the general manager's meetings, which will be held Nov. 10-12 in Phoenix. Then come the winter meetings, which are set for Dec. 8-11 in San Diego. Hart noted that the Braves must also be mindful of other teams in the market for a new GM, a list that includes only Atlanta and Arizona at the moment but could get longer after the season.

ROAD BLOCKS FOR THE NEXT GUY: The Braves are no longer one of baseball's biggest-spending teams, ranking around the middle of the pack this season with a total payroll of about $110 million. The next GM will deal with the financial challenge of retooling the roster while saddled with $13 million for the final year of Dan Uggla's contract (even though he's not even on the team anymore), along with three more seasons for B.J. Upton's $75.25 million, five-year deal. Liberty Media is unlikely to raise the payroll much until the Braves move into their new stadium. "Life is full of challenges," Schuerholz said. "Intelligent and brilliant and hard-working people find answers to challenges."

FREDI'S FUTURE: Once a new GM is in place, the first big decision will be deciding if Fredi Gonzalez returns as manager. That seems likely, given he has led the Braves to two playoff appearances and an NL East title in four years as a manager. Also working in his favor: he shouldn't be blamed for the feeble offense that Wren assembled and has strong support from the previous manager. "I think Fredi has done a remarkable job since taking over for me," Cox said.


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Second annual GNTC Bobcat Cheer Extravaganza a success
Posted: September 23, 2014

Saddle Ridge Middle School transformed into Cheerleading Central on Monday night as the school played host to the second annual Georgia Northwestern Technical College Bobcat Cheer Extravaganza.

Monday 09/22/2014
NGAC Football: Rossville picks up first win of 2014
Posted: September 22, 2014

The Rossville Middle School Bulldogs got three first-quarter touchdowns from Shawn Wilson and went on a 64-8 home victory over the Saddle Ridge Mustangs on Thursday, evening their overall record at 1-1 on the year.

FOOTBALL: Craig Pritchett to be inducted into Tusculum Sports Hall of Fame
Updated: September 22, 2014 - 12:28 pm

Ridgeland assistant football coach Craig Pritchett will be honored next month as one of their new members of the Tusculum College Sports Hall of Fame.

Braves dismiss GM Frank Wren, John Hart named as interim GM
Updated: September 22, 2014 - 10:52 pm

ATLANTA — For nearly a quarter-century, the Atlanta Braves have been all about stability.

Sunday 09/21/2014
Rise UP
Updated: September 22, 2014 - 10:12 pm

I first started going to the Atlanta Falcons football games when they were" 2 Legit 2 Quit" at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and "Back in Black" at the Georgia Dome.

Friday 09/19/2014
NGAC Football: LaFayette grinds up Gordon Lee
Updated: September 19, 2014 - 12:52 am

The LaFayette Middle School football team moved to 3-0 on Thursday afternoon and did so emphatically with a 58-0 dismantling of Gordon Lee during an NGAC West Division game in LaFayette.

NGAC Volleyball: Saddle Ridge loses to Heritage
Updated: September 19, 2014 - 12:48 am

The Saddle Ridge Middle School volleyball team suffered just their third loss for the season on Thursday with a 25-16, 25-6 setback at Heritage.

NGAC Volleyball: LaFayette earns split with Lakeview
Updated: September 19, 2014 - 12:46 am

The LaFayette Middle School varsity volleyball team picked up a narrow victory over Lakeview on Thursday afternoon, winning by scores of 25-23 and 25-23.

NGAC Softball: Yancy shuts out Dade County
Updated: September 19, 2014 - 12:40 am

Nicky Yancy struck out 13 Dade County hitters, added an RBI and scored a run as the Saddle Ridge Lady Mustangs blanked the Lady Wolverines, 6-0, on Thursday.

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