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Week 2 power ratings: Falcons still flying high
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Clearly, Hall County's best team based upon two games against Class AAAA teams is Flowery Branch.

The Branch has an offense which has averaged 60 points a game and a defense which has yielded just one touchdown a game.

A couple of games we won't see, but would be extremely interesting is Flowery Branch against Buford and Flowery Branch against Gainesville.

All of Flowery Branch's opponents come from outside of Hall County and are not teams familiar to many Hall County fans.

The second best team in the county is one of four teams, Chestatee (1-0) which has the highest power rating after one game against West Hall (0-2).

Gainesville (1-1) had been blown out by maybe the best team in the state, Buford, but dominated White County last Friday night.

I have been told that Buford has as many D-1 prospects as any team in North Georgia. We may find that Gainesville is competitive with everybody but Buford.

East Hall which might be one of North Georgia's better Class AA teams and North Hall, which lost a close one to Jefferson on Friday night, are also in the mix.

North Hall opens the season with by far the toughest three first games of any Hall County teams.

You can bet if those green-shirted Trojans run into your stadium during the last half of the season, take my word they will be battle-tested.

1. Flowery Branch (2-0) Power rating 8.57: We may have one of the better Class AAAA teams in Hall County, as few teams displayed more dominance last Friday night than the Falcons.

They out-gained Winder-Barrow 507 total yards to 160, which means their offense had 3 yards for every 1 yard their defense yielded.

As most coaches know, games are won or lost in the minds of the players long before it is ever decided on the scoreboard.

When you are being pushed around in the trenches like Winder-Barrow was last Friday night, they know early they are matched up against some mean hombres.

One thing that makes Flowery Branch tough to defend is that over time its play-calling stays pretty balanced in regard to run or pass.

My guess is a good number of the run/pass decisions are made on the line of scrimmage, so they are frequently attacking weakness.

The Branch ran for 308 yards and passed for 199 yards on 29 runs and 20 passes.

The Flowery Branch completion percentage is down a little from last year's, but when you are averaging 10 yards a carry on the ground, you are going to force future opponents to open up their pass defense some in order to stop the running game.

Friday night the Falcons are on the road at Apalachee.

2. East Hall (2-0) Power rating 2.84: These Vikings know how to make the plays needed to win. They are not a dominating team statistically, but you make a mistake and they make you pay.

East Hall beat Johnson last Friday night 47-17, and yet in terms of total offense the two were almost even. East Hall had 241 total yards to Johnson's 228.

Johnson had a slight edge on the running game and neither team passed for much, but East Hall had 44 yards passing to Johnson's 12.

Jamond Witt and Austin Mahaffey spearhead what has been a pretty productive offense.

East Hall is primarily a running team, but the skill guys have excellent speed and are good receivers.

The Vikings are now 2-0 against Class AAA schools, which should have prepared them well for the Class AA opener tomorrow night at Elbert County, defending 8-AA champion.

3. Chestatee (1-0) Power rating 2.93: The War Eagles have a slightly higher power rating than East Hall, but the Vikings have played one more game.

At this point in the season, I suspect that East Hall, Chestatee, North Hall and maybe Gainesville are all pretty even.

Chestatee had a dominating win over West Hall, and statistically it was a more impressive win than East Hall had over the same opponent.

Chestatee has played a lot of young players in previous years, and this may be the year it pays off for them. I know they have an excellent weight program and their "big guys" always play strong.

I generally think it's a disadvantage to open with a team which has already played a game.

Most teams iron out some errors in the first game and I have always felt teams made their most improvement between Week 1 and Week 2, so this may have proved to be a big win.

The War Eagles had impressive numbers in the running game, and that success is almost always due to the offensive line.

Friday night Chestatee hosts Johnson in what should be a very evenly matched game.

4. Gainesville (1-1) Power rating 0.79: The opening day loss to Buford is tough to make up for in a short period of time when I go by the numbers early in the season, but White County ran into a buzzsaw last Friday night at City Park as the Red Elephants 3-4 defense dominated.

One of the area's most exciting athletes is Gainesville's sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson.

He's a nimble runner who has more strength than he looks like he has when tacklers try to put him on the ground.

His passing stats were very impressive: He completed 75 percent of his passes and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt.

Gainesville had an impressive total offense; 469 total yards, with 62 percent in the air and 38 percent on the ground.

Gainesville threw one interception and had no fumbles, and the defense is impressive as everybody swarms to the football on every down.

How's this for that night's work - White County was held to 3 yards a carry running and 1.25 yards per pass attempt.

On Sept. 16, North Hall comes to City Park to play what is often the most exciting game of the season. This is one of those games in which everybody cares, and parking is always at a premium.

5. North Hall (0-1) Power rating .74: North Hall opens up this season with three of the toughest games I have seen any team open with.

Last Friday night they played a fine, unbeaten Jefferson team at Jefferson, and lost a shootout, 38-28.

I didn't see the game, but heard much of the second half on the radio. Primarily because of four first-half turnovers, North Hall had dug itself such a big hole it didn't seem possible to get out.

Down 28-7 at halftime, many teams would not have thought they had a chance to win, but with an incredible effort, the Trojans won the third quarter 13-0 and entered the fourth quarter down only 28-20.

It looked briefly like these brave Trojans were going to do the impossible or at least the improbable, but Jefferson played North Hall to a draw during the fourth quarter in order to save the win.

The Trojans have one of North Georgia's premier running backs in Imani Cross who carried the ball 23 times for 215 yards. North Hall attempted six passes, completed two and had one intercepted.

Friday night the Trojans go to Atlanta to play a fine St. Pius X team.

6. Johnson (0-2) Power rating .48: Johnson is coming off a 41-17 loss to East Hall. This is a Johnson team which can and does run the ball on everybody.

Its offensive line play is on a par with anybody, and last Friday night the Knights averaged 5 yards per carry when everybody in North Georgia knew they were going to run the football. It's their personality.

Last Friday's game was statistically almost even, but East Hall ended up with a 24-point victory.

East Hall is getting more points with fewer yards and Johnson tends to get fewer points and more yards. Johnson has a tendency not to pass much which allows defenses to gang up on the run.

A. J. Millwood is a hard-nosed runner who leads the way in the Knight's run-oriented attack.

Johnson travels to Chestatee to face another hard-nosed team Friday night.

7. West Hall (0-2) Power rating .32: It's early in the season, and West Hall, despite being 0-2, is good enough to be 2-0 if more breaks had gone their way.

I saw their East Hall game, and the Spartan players are tough and aggressive.

In the games I have seen, they are not losing the hitting war. This is a team which has lost the field position and ball possession battle.

A couple of special teams breakdowns have put them in holes, losing field position and giving the opponent a very short field.

At the end of the game, they had possession of the ball enough times to win, but they were on offense on a long field and on defense on a short field. In the game I saw, it was special teams play that put them at a disadvantage,

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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