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Clausen: Five Hall teams have potential to make playoffs
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The last time Flowery Branch and Gainesville played, the game was decided in the closing minutes when the Falcons stopped a two-point conversion attempt to beat Gainesville 35-34 and take the Region 8-AAAAA championship.

This reminds me of former NFL head coach Sid Gillman’s comment when we had won by one point in a close, hard-fought game in Philadelphia.

He walked into the locker room and said, “That game was a lot closer than the score indicated.” This should be a classic contest between two tough-minded, talented and well-coached football teams.

North Hall gets to host Buford this Friday and with Buford (9-0, 6-0 Region 7-AAA) in region play, this game sets up the playoffs and seedings for Region 7-AAA.

Chestatee is right now seeded second behind Monroe Area in its region. West Hall is fighting for a playoff spot tomorrow night against Dawsonville in the region final game.

A lot on the line tomorrow night for our local teams. Five teams could be playing in the playoffs next week. That’s quite an accomplishment!

1. Gainesville (8-1, 7-0 Region 8-AAAAA) — PR 3.84; Average Points Scored 51.67; Average Points Allowed 13.44: The Red Elephants were operating on all cylinders last Friday night as they went to Loganville and beat the Red Devils 63-0 on National TV.

It was great to sit in my bedroom in front of my large-screen TV and watch Deshaun Watson, Michael Byrd and Jay Gaudlock play fine football. Brenquez Dukes recovered a fumbled punt in the early part of the game for the Red Elephants’ first score.

Take Michael Byrd and his 149 yards with two touchdowns rushing on top of Deshaun Watson’s record-breaking passing game and then one of the state’s very best defensive teams, you are going to be a very tough, very competitive opponent week out and week in at a championship level.

This is great football!

Toddrick Turner, a fine sophomore defensive back, intercepted a pass and ran 65 yards for a touchdown, and Dukes recovered a fumble in the Loganville end zone — that’s just two examples of this splendid defense.

Gainesville is looking to finish with a perfect season in region play when Flowery Branch (7-2, 7-0 Region 8-AAAAA) comes to City Park tomorrow night.

The winner of this game will be the region champion and will have the higher seed in the state playoffs.

2. North Hall (8-1, 5-1 Region 7-AAA) — PR 2.78; Average Points Scored 45.67; Average Points Allowed 16.44: Bob Christmas’ Wing-T offense is extremely hard to prepare for in one week. It’s a combination of sweeps, counter traps and reverses.

Linebackers are not accustomed to making play recognition on these types of plays. Often the play starts off like it’s going left and then it goes right. The blocking is double teams and traps, and it’s not something the defensive player sees every week. The Trojans scored 42 points in the first quarter in route to a 63-7 victory over Banks County.

This sets up a huge ball game against Buford, one of our country’s top football teams. This is a winnable game, but it will take an incredible effort. Buford is not used to losing to anybody. A win tomorrow night will be one of those games the Trojan players will talk about forever.

Our finest hours in sports are those few times in life when we and our teammates play over our head. This is the type of effort North Hall is going to need.

3. Flowery Branch (7-2, 7-0 Region 8-AAAAA) — PR 2.15; Average Points Scored — 34.22; Average Points Allowed — 15.89: The Falcons had a bye this past Friday, so they will have had two weeks to prepare for their showdown with the Red Elephants of Gainesville for the region title and a No. 1 seeding in the playoffs.

Flowery Branch goes to City Park, and if you don’t necessarily have any place tonight, get to City Park early — parking and seats will be at a premium!

4. Chestatee (7-2, 5-1 Region 8-AAAA) — PR 1.75; Average Points Scored 26.44; Average Points Allowed 15.11: In spite of a valiant effort against an outstanding undefeated Monroe Area football team, four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) cost the War Eagles a victory, 28-21.

I think I’ve mentioned this before — if you turn the ball over four or more times, you will lose 90 percent of the time, no matter how well you played. Zac Cheshire had a splendid night, running the football for more than six yards a carry on 20 attempts and a 41-yard touchdown.

Justin Spears ran a kickoff back for 90 yards and a touchdown, and Khalil Cantrell ran for a 24-yard touchdown. As a matter of fact, the War Eagles averaged 5.1 yards a carry on 46 carries.

This is dominating blocking by the offensive line. A win over Madison County {4-5, 2-4 Region 8-AAAA) tomorrow night gives the War Eagles their second straight eight-win season.

5. West Hall (5-4, 3-3 Region 7-AAA) — PR 1.39; Average Points Scored 27; Average Points Allowed 19.44: West Hall played a good defensive game against a strong White County football team. But White County played even better and won 14-0.

The statistics would indicate White County’s control of the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense was the margin of victory. They held the Spartans’ offense to 2.5 yards per carry on 28 carries, while averaging 4.14 yards per carry themselves.

West Hall recovered two fumbles and had one interception. Those are good turnover statistics, but White County’s superior run defense was the key factor. Hunter Atkinson had seven catches for 83 yards and Spartans quarterback Zack English intercepted a ball while playing defense!

The Spartans head to Dawsonville to fight for the fourth spot in the Class AAA playoffs. Both teams have the same record, so the winner advances and the loser goes home. The Spartans’ seniors are fighting to leave their mark in West Hall History.

A victory puts them in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

6. East Hall (4-5, 1-5 Region 7-AAA) — PR 1.06; Average Points Scored 30.33; Average Points Allowed 28.67: East Hall joined a long list of high school football teams that couldn’t match up with the Buford Wolves. The undefeated Wolves won 70-6.

The East Hall players played hard. Buford was not looking ahead and played an outstanding football game. The Vikings play host to Fannin County (2-7, 1-5 Region 7-AAA) tomorrow night.

7. Johnson (2-7) — PR 0.41; Average Points Scored 13.56; Average Points Allowed 33.11: Johnson had a bye this past week. The Knights will be playing Lafayette (1-8, 1-4 Region 7B-AAAA) Friday night at home.

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.