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Week 5 Power Ratings: Falcons flying high

POSTED: September 28, 2011 7:32 p.m.

My wife Betsy and I just returned from Columbus, Ohio, where 37 years ago (1971-1975), I had the honor of coaching some of our nation’s best college football players.

I am often asked about the difference between coaching a high school player, a college player or a Power rating.

Obviously each comes to you with a different maturity level, but at all levels unselfish commitment to your teammates tends to separate the teams which succeed in high school, college and the Power ratings.

With rare exception, the good player is a good person; he’s the kind of person we would all like to have as a friend or a neighbor. I still have a picture in my mind of an Ohio State All-American rolling around in the grass in my backyard with my 4-year-old son.

Coaching great athletes, I felt like Albert Einstein’s fifth grade teacher: I must be really good, look how well Albert is doing.

Today, I see few college or Power rating games in person, but almost never miss a Friday night of high school football. Last Friday night, after meeting with my former players, we were driving back to the hotel and I couldn’t help but notice the lighted high school stadiums in Columbus and thinking about those North Georgia athletes getting ready to tee it up.

1. Flowery Branch (5-0) Power rating 6.39, Average Points 52.4 , Average Allowed 8.2: The stats all indicate that right now the best and most dominating team in Hall County is Flowery Branch.

Statistically, the Falcons have clearly the best team on both sides of the ball. I don’t want to jinx coach Lee Shaw and his splendid young players, but if they continue to use each day to get better, they have a chance to go deep into the playoffs.

Last Friday it was Flowery Branch 51-0 over Rockdale County. Friday night the Falcons have an open date, giving them two weeks to prepare for Habersham Central, their next opponent.

2. Chestatee (3-1) Power rating 1.6, Average Points 37.3, Average Allowed 23.3: The War Eagles suffered their first loss last Friday night, 41-35, to Monroe Area.

The turnover margin was probably the largest factor as Chestatee turned the ball over three times to its opponent’s one. The War Eagles had more total yardage, 450-383.

Another factor may well have been the fact that Monroe Area averaged 8.6 yards per carry while Chestatee averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Both teams averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt, but the War Eagles had two of their pass attempts picked off. Having studied football stats for years, I know at the pro level if there is a big upset, it is almost always the result of turnovers.

Friday night brings one of Hall County’s big rivalry games as the War Eagles travel to North Hall. Expect two very evenly matched teams to play their hearts out.

3. Gainesville (3-1) Power rating 1.46, Average Points 29.3, Average Allowed 20.0: The Red Elephants looked like a powerhouse in Carnesville last Friday night. Led by sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, they beat a pretty good Franklin County team, 42-13.

Franklin County is an old-fashioned running team (56 carries, 330 yards). I suspect largely by design, Gainesville ran the ball 16 times for 122 yards and threw the ball 16 times for 326 yards. I like the Red Elephants’ balance because the defense can’t predict whether it should load up on the run or the pass.

Gainesville generally has very competitive athletes and its coaches have given it the tools to compete. I am not sure where the Red Elephants early-season shellacking by one of the nation’s best teams (Buford) fits into the scheme of things, but today’s Gainesville team looks like a mighty fine high school football team to me.

Friday night, Gainesville plays a struggling Johnson team in Oakwood.

4. East Hall (2-2) Power rating 1.11, Average Points 29.3, Average Allowed 26.3: Coming off an open date, the Vikings have had an extra week to prepare for Friday night’s opponent, Rabun County (2-2).

5. North Hall (1-3) Power rating 0.72, Average Points 26.0, Average Allowed 36.3: The Trojans opened the season with the three toughest games I can remember a Hall County team opening up against. They lost all three, but you can bet it made their players mentally tougher.

Last Friday night they got their first win, 48-12 over Walnut Grove. Led by an effective offensive line, Imani Cross rushed for three touchdowns and 211 yards.

Another important stat: North Hall passed the ball only three times, but completed all three and averaged a very strong 18 yards per attempt. The North Hall defense held Walnut Grove to 5.2 yards per carry and only one pass completion in 10 attempts. The Trojans turned the ball over once, a fumble, and the defense forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery and an interception.

The Trojans have a big game Friday night as Chestatee comes to the Brickyard for one of Hall County’s big rivalry games.

6. Johnson (0-4) Power rating 0.46, Average Points 15.8, Average Allowed 34.3: Last Friday night, the Knights traveled to Dahlonega to take on a solid Lumpkin County football team. Playing with one of North Georgia’s smaller rosters, Johnson has few experienced upperclassmen in its lineup and yet they played a very competitive game against the Indians. Losing 30-21, the game was close throughout, with Lumpkin County’s depth starting to take over in the fourth quarter.

In every Johnson game I have seen in the past few years, their young players are fundamentally sound and have excellent gameplans. As the games goes on, the larger rosters of their opponents tend to wear down the Knights and it shows in the latter stages of the game. Friday night Johnson hosts Gainesville in Oakwood.

7. West Hall (0-4) Power rating 0.31, Average Points 11.7, Average Allowed 38.0: Coming off a open date with an extra week of preparation, West Hall travels to play Walnut Creek (1-3, power rating 0.76).

Chuck Clausen is a Hall County resident who coached high school, college and professional football for 28 years. His Power Ratings column appears each Thursday during high school football season.



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