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Week 7 Power Ratings: Flowery Branch clicking on all cylinders

POSTED: October 12, 2011 6:16 p.m.

Football is a uniquely American sport. It was developed in this country, and the game itself represents the rough-and-tumble nature of the American people.

It takes a special people to develop and then fall in love with a sport that involves our sons running full speed into somebody else's son and doing it every Friday night all over the country.

It's a sport in which everybody gets knocked down, and like it or not, they have to get back up and keep fighting.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Columbus, Ohio, and I spent some time with guys I had coached 37 years ago. As a group they are very successful, contributing members of our great country. You and I witness every Friday night our brave sons learning some great lessons about how to succeed in life.

Just keep getting up and playing one more down just as hard as you and I can.

1. Flowery Branch (6-0) Power Rating 4.42, Average Points 53, Average Allowed 12: Hall County's only undefeated team beat another strong opponent last Friday night, dropping Habersham Central, 56-31.

When I was coaching, our only focus was getting back to the tunnel at the end of the game with a "W," and right now nobody in Northeast Georgia is doing that any better than the Falcons.

If you look inside the stats, the Raiders look like a darn good football team. Habersham Central had more yards running (352-175) and more total yards (501-424) than the Falcons, but when the clock indicated the game was over the Falcons had more points.

The Falcons have a balanced offense, led by quarterback Kanler Coker, who averaged almost 10 yards per pass attempt Friday. Anything over 7.5 yards per attempt gives you a winning passing game.

The Flowery Branch running game was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt. Combined with good defense, these are championship-level numbers.

The Flowery Branch defense is absorbing a lot of yardage; rarely does a defense give up 500 yards like the Falcons did against Habersham Central and win.

However, a good part of this can be explained by the fact that Flowery Branch jumped out to an early lead and the defense was willing to absorb some yardage, always protecting the end zone first.

Friday brings the Falcons' biggest test so far this season, as they travel to Conyers to play an undefeated Heritage team which has a power rating of 2.95 and averages 31.5 points per game with defense that allows 10.7 points per game.

2. Gainesville (5-1) Power Rating 2.87, Average Points 41.7, Average Allowed 14.5: After an opening week loss to Buford, the Red Elephants have improved each week.

Behind the blocking of a very physical offensive line, Gainesville rushed for 375 yards on 38 carries for an average of 9.8 yards per carry last week.

Seven different runners carried the ball for Gainesville.

As strong as the Red Elephants were on the ground, Gainesville's air attack was equally effective. Deshaun Watson completed 12 of 15 pass attempts for 219 yards, and Mikey Gonzalez completed 9 of 10 for 91 yards.

Led by their fine two safeties, Fred Payne and Eli Nwefo, Gainesville's pass defense continued to play at a very high level. Oconee's pass offense was held to about 7 yards per pass attempt. The Red Elephant defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass.

Friday night Gainesville hosts a 5-1 Monroe Area team in a critical game for both teams.

Monroe Area has a 1.53 power rating, scoring 32.7 points per game, while allowing 21.3 points. On paper Gainesville is better, but only by a little.

3. East Hall (4-2) Power Rating 1.36, Average Points 27.5, Average Allowed 27.7: The Vikings had a big region win last week over Union County, 33-3.

Jamond Witt, the Vikings' top runner, led the way behind a dominating performance from his offensive line. The Vikings' linemen controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, while the defense they didn't let Union County get anything going.

Friday the Vikings host region foe Fannin County (3-3, power rating 1.07). The Rebels average 26.2 points per game, while yielding 24.6 points. I predict a very hard-fought win for the Vikings.

4. North Hall (3-3) Power Rating 1.08, Average Points 30.0, Average Allowed 27.7: North Hall's wing-T offense tends to distribute the ball to their fullback, halfback, wing back and quarterback pretty evenly over time.

To the defense, a lot of plays start off looking the same and it is only after the play is more fully developed do you know who and where the ball carrier is and where he is going to cross the line of scrimmage.

North Hall had a nice win over White County last week, 28-14. Junior Caleb Faulkner ran for more than 100 yards and scored three touchdowns against a defense which had prepared for a heavy dose of Imani Cross.

North Hall's improving defense contributed with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. The Trojans ran 47 times for 218 hard-earned yards for an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

Friday the Trojans travel to Dahlonega to play Lumpkin County (4-2, 1-1 Region 8-AAA North).

The Indians have a 1.53 power rating and are averaging 24.5 points, while their defense allows 16 points per game.

5. Chestatee (3-3) Power Rating 0.92, Average Points 26, Average Allowed 28.2: Stephens County exploded for several long touchdowns last week, giving the War Eagles their third straight loss.

Chaz Thornton, one of Northeast Georgia's top runners, carried the ball only 10 times, but averaged 24.4 yards per carry against the War Eagle defense.

I have never seen a team out of Toccoa that didn't have strong, physical linemen, and now they are blocking for highly skilled runner.

I thought it was a great coaching decision by the War Eagles to open up the second half with an onside kick. It didn't turn into a score, but it's the kind of aggressive thinking that at times gives your players a shot in the arm and a chance to come back against all odds.

6. West Hall (2-4) Power Rating 0.52, Average Points 20.3, Average Allowed 31.3: The Spartans' 35-21 win over Johnson was just what the Spartans needed.

West Hall is a team which is a little better than their record. Several of the Spartans' key players are underclassmen who are significantly better players than they were when they started the season.

This is a team which, if they protect the football, is a tough, strong and physical opponent. West Hall travels to Oconee County (2-4, power rating .63) on Friday. If these young Spartans can forget the unfriendly crowd and concentrate on being the good team they are becoming , they'll enjoy the bus ride home.

7. Johnson (0-6) Power Rating 0.42, Average Points 14.0, Average Allowed 33.2: Last Friday night the Knights went into the locker room at halftime tied 21-21 with West Hall. They then lost the third quarter 7-0 and the fourth quarter 7-0.

I am going to predict the Knights' first win of the season against Walnut Grove on Friday. My wife Betsy and I are going to be there to cheer them on. It's easy to pull for a team that plays as hard as the Knights. By the way, I never pull for a team if it's Hall County vs. Hall County.

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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