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Clausen: Gainesville 'impressive,' holds No. 1 spot

POSTED: September 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.

At the end of Week 2 the Hall County football players have created the following power ratings. As the season goes on, I take into consideration the following criteria: 1) Head to head competitions; 2) win/loss record; 3) ratio of points scored vs. points allowed; 4) opponent’s win/loss percentage. This week we rated the teams on the ratio of points scored against points allowed. This week’s power ratings have Flowery Branch, which is 1-1, ahead of West Hall which is 2-0. Flowery Branch’s one loss was to Stephens County which this week beat Seneca S.C. 31-0, we can see no evidence that Stephens County is not one of the very best Class AAA teams in the state.

We (the Hall County football fans) have seen just one-fifth of the season. Two of the great lessons of competitive sports are learning to bounce back from defeat and to be humble in victory, and one is just as important as the other. These proud young men have chosen to test their skills, their discipline and team work in front of thousands of people every Friday night. Please let me be among those who tips his hat to each one of them.

After studying football stats for 15 seasons in the National Football League and eight seasons at Ohio State and William and Mary, we found some stats were more important than others. Each week I will look inside the stats and try and highlight the ones which separate the strong teams from the weaker ones.

Gainesville (2-0)

Average Points Scored 34.5: Average Points Allowed 7: Power Rating 9.86. After two impressive wins, the Red Elephants have demonstrated on the field that they are a team which is going to be difficult to beat. Impressive in their opener against Chestatee, they were equally impressive against Franklin County, beating them 34-7 last weekend in Carnesville. The spread offense that the Red Elephants run can’t be successful week in and week out without a great athlete/passer at the quarterback position. Gainesville has found one in junior transfer Blake Sims. Completing 70 percent of his passes against Franklin County, he averaged 7.45 yards per pass attempt. I don’t think the spread offense is complete unless your quarterback is a running threat, which Sims proves he is by averaging 12.71 per carry on 7 carries. Franklin County scored its only touchdown against some of the young Red Elephants. Josh Jackson, from the defensive side of the ball, returned a fumble recovery for a 41-yard touchdown, plus was part of another terrific effort by the Gainesville defense, which was led by Phillip Gaines and Robert Humphrey. Nobody can play defense as good as these guys are playing without dominating play by the front three in the Gainesville 3-4 defense. Friday night White County visits Gainesville for the Red Elephants’ home opener. Last year the Red Elephants left Cleveland with a narrow two-point win against the Warriors, to stay on top this fine football team better bring their "A" game to Bobby Gruhn Field.

Flowery Branch (1-1)

Average Points Scored 37: Average Points Allowed 19: Power Rating 1.95: You could argue, that the 2-0 Spartans might be our second best team, but I put Flowery Branch number two because I think we will see when the season ends that they lost to one of the very best AAA teams in Georgia in the first week against Stephens County. The numbers in Week 2 versus Lumpkin County were impressive. Connor Shaw, in his second week as the starting QB, completed 69 percent of his passes and averaged 10.81 yards per pass attempt. Four of Connor’s completions were to Jamel Mitchum who averaged 28 yards per completion, looks like Mitchum has taken over the role that Shaw played as a wide receiver in previous years. He added an additional 161-yards rushing on 7 attempts, that is an average of 23 yards per attempt. Those numbers will not only win, they will dominate. Darius Kimbrough and Daniel Drummond had a good night running when called upon. The Branch defense yielded 4.9 yards per rush, which is not a dominating number, but its pass defense was impressive allowing only 6.23 yards per pass attempt and allowing the Lumpkin County passer to complete only 38 percent of his pass attempts. After a below average night on pass defense against Stephens County, the Falcon secondary bounced back with a good effort.

West Hall (2-0)

Average Points Scored 24.5: Average Points Allowed 15: Power Rating 1.63: You have to be happy for the Spartans who opened the season with two wins. The Spartans success against Pickens County was due to a good night by the West Hall passing game led by QB Marquise Stephens, an improved running game and a much more effective defense in Week 2 as compared to Week 1 versus East Jackson. I was not at the game and am not sure how he did it, but Marquise Stephens not only led his team as a passer, but he caught a 22-yard touchdown pass and had a 39-yard run for a score. The Spartans defensive numbers were dominating. They allowed 2.04 per rush and only 3.75 yards per pass attempt and allowed only a 29 percent completion percentage. No defense in Hall County put up any more impressive numbers. If this team keeps improving they should be a challenge to any team on their schedule.

North Hall (1-1)

Average Points Scored 21: Average Points Allowed 25.5: Power Rating 0.82: I was at the North Hall/Buford game, a game which was completely dominated by Buford in every phase of the game. This is a Buford team which opened the season against at a Class AAAA team from Mansfield, Texas with a 42-21 win and who, last season, went to Ohio and beat one of their better teams 35-7. In the AA state championship in 2007 Buford beat Lovett 55-0. What makes the Wolves so good, so much stronger than most of their opponents, whether in Georgia or from other great football states like Texas and Ohio? Buford has more outstanding athletes in its program. It probably has thirty exceptional athletes, where the typical high school has 3-5, and the real good teams have 8-10. A top flight Class AAAAA team might have 15-20. Next, Buford has great facilities, and its kids get great coaching, plus the guy who is out there playing knows that there are probably two guys on the bench playing his position who are almost as good as he is. I think last year’s North Hall team would have been more competitive, they were older more mature than this year’s team. The North Hall players had a great game plan, they played hard the whole ball game, but they were playing one of the very best high school teams in the country. I think the fact that the Trojans average 4.47 yards per running play is impressive, something almost none of the Buford opponents have been able to do. Next year, Buford will bring another very strong team to the Brickyard. Next year’s Trojans will be a little more mature, they will be tougher, and like this year’s team, will be unafraid of a great challenge. One of Buford’s stars last Friday night against the Trojans was Jessel Curry, both as a fullback on offense and as a linebacker on defense. I was privileged to be his father Buddy Curry’s coach when his dad was the starting middle linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons

Johnson (0-2)

Average Points Scored 10: Average Points Allowed 22.5: Power Rating 0.44: Two missed field goals late in the game was the difference in the 3-point loss to Class AAAAA North Forsyth. This is a good Johnson team and one that from what I have seen will be competitive with the other Hall County teams. Anthony Prophet gives his team good leadership from the quarterback position. Last Friday night he average 9.5 yards per carry running the ball, and averaged 7.23 yards per pass attempt on 13 pass attempts. We look at 8 yards per attempt to be on the winning side of the ledger. Paul Friel’s Johnson teams have always improved. My guess, after giving up 5.5 per run play on defense and allowing sophomore Tyler Slaton 6.75 yards per rush attempt, the defense has been getting a little extra work this week at the Johnson practices. Outside of Prophet’s running the rest of the running game needs some beefing up. Friday night’s game at Johnson against Chestatee should be a great contest, both teams looking for a first win.

East Hall (0-2)

Average Points Scored 10.5: Average Points Allowed 25.5: Power Rating 0.41: This young East Hall Vikings’ team is coming off a loss to a very physical and mature White County team. Harrison Dale, who manages the Vikings spread offense, completed 60 percent of his passes and averaged almost 7 yards per pass attempt while spreading the ball around to five different receivers. Kiante Young led the receivers with three catches for 32 yards and averaged 10.67 yards per reception. Corey Richardson carried the ball seven times for 49 yards, an average of 7 yards per carry, while Marcellous Moon carried the ball three times for 23 yards for an average of 7.67 yards per carry. Richardson was all over the field making tackles for the Viking defense, he had eight first hits on the ball. Other Vikings who also were always swarming the football included Jerry Rodriguez and Andrew Ivestor

Chestatee (0-1)

Average Points Scored 0: Average Points Allowed 35: Power Rating 0.03: A hungry War Eagles’ team will take the field Friday night against the Johnson Knights. After being shut out in the opener against Gainesville two weeks ago, you can bet they will show up Friday night at Johnson ready.



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