I think it’s great for Hall County to have two teams who have already shown they are among the state’s elite. I thought that Gainesville scheduled an unusually tough non-region schedule. It shows me that Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller expected a run at the state championship and wasn’t going to send his troops on the field without being battle tested.
Hall County is one of three counties that has at least two teams still vying to be Georgia’s best in 2012. I have placed the following four teams in the order of their power rating, but truthfully, I could easily put them all in a four-way tie for first.
During the regular season, I know I have to be nonpartisan, but not anymore. You can bet Betsy and I will be at the parade when Hall County salutes the efforts of a champion.
1. North Hall (11-2): PR 3.02 average points 40.69, average allowed 13.46: The North Hall Trojans are scoring three offensive touchdowns for every one their defense has allowed. I have never seen a North Hall team play any game where they were not superbly prepared. Statistically, the Trojans have a slight edge on both offense and defense. What’s hard to figure out during the playoffs is the strength of St. Pius’ opponents. When I was recruiting in the northeast United States, the Catholic schools had fine football teams, played tough schedules and sent many players on to Notre Dame and Boston College.
Let me mention this before I move on, no opponent will out work the Trojans, as we used to say in the NFL, if you are going to play us you better bring your lunch, “because we are an all day job.” Go Trojans!
2. Whitewater (12-1): PR 2.63, average points 36.46, average allowed 13.85: Whitewater lost their opener to Coffee High, on their way to a 12-1 record. The Wildcats played two other games we might consider competitive, Northgate, who they beat 33-26, and Glynn Academy, who they beat 34-27. You can bet that the Gainesville coaching staff has studied those two games, looking for offensive concepts which may have caused them problems. In the third round of the playoffs, Whitewater beat a pretty good Allatoona team 24-3.
The Wildcats opened the season with a 41-3 loss to Coffee who they played at home, whatever that opening loss might have revealed, it looks like it has been corrected. Last week, Kendall Conley scored all five touchdowns and had 290 yards rushing. I have seen Gainesville control some good running games, few teams get more pursuit to the ball than the Red Elephant defense. Statistics indicate Conley gets most of Whitewater’s carries. Heavy pursuit making sure he has to climb out from under six-and-seven man piles down after down could pay major dividends in the fourth quarter of a tough game.
3. St. Pius X (11-2): PR 2.44, average points 35.15, average allowed 14.38: In the two games that St. Pius was held to 14 points they lost both, North Hall has been allowing on average 13.5 points per game. North Hall’s offense, in my opinion, is tough to get ready for in one week unless a team has seen a lot of wishbone football. Many linebackers are taught to read through line to the near back. In the wishbone, half the time the near back is going opposite where the ball is going to cross the line of scrimmage. North Hall plays at St. Pius because they lost the coin flip, but part of becoming a great competitor is learning to go into their house and silence the crowd and let them sit quietly wondering what happened.
4. Gainesville (10-3): PR 2.09, average points 46.38, average allowed 22.15: I know the power rating has Gainesville fourth, but this might be the year of the Red Elephants. Nobody beats Gainesville handily. On defense they are mentally very tough. You pay for every yard because of their relentless pursuit to the football. Deshaun Watson brings skills both running and passing we don’t often see from a junior quarterback. It looks to me like Gainesville played a very tough nonregion schedule to prepare them for the kind of competition you get from the kind of teams they have to beat in December.
Betsy and I are excited that two of our great Hall County teams have made it to the semifinals. We will be cheering loudly and plan to go watch both North Hall and Gainesville play in the Dome next weekend!