There are seven Hall County public school football teams, and six have records of .500 or better at the end of Week 9.
That’s high quality coaching, and top quality high school athletes.
I don’t have a son who played high school football in Hall County, but I would have loved to have had my son play in any one of the fine Hall County football programs.
I retired after having coached 28 seasons, including five as a high school coach, 11 as a college coach — including five seasons at Ohio State — and 18 seasons in the National Football League.
I have often been asked by many fans I have met on Friday night whom I enjoyed coaching more: High school, college or pro athletes. I enjoyed them all, but probably was most satisfied by the progress I saw a player make during his high school years.
What you see on the practice field of your good football programs at any level are coaches forcing players to play harder and better than the player would naturally play at. Without being specific, I have seen the same type of intense discipline that we expected of Ohio State players or Vince Lombardi expected from his great Green Bay Packers teams at our local high school practices.
How many of you ex-athletes have vivid memories about the time your coach ask you to do “one more rep,” when you were almost sure you didn’t have one left in you? Two qualities the ex-football players brings to his first job: He’s not afraid of hard work and he won’t quit when things begin to get tough.
1. North Hall (7-1, 5-0) PR 3.79, average points 46, points allowed 12.13: I saw a mighty fine North Hall team dominate West Hall 48-10 last Friday night. Zac Little, behind one of North Georgia’s finest offensive lines, had 146 yards rushing, averaging 21 yards per carry.
The Trojans equally fine defense held the Spartans to 2.9 per carry, a rushing number you can almost never win with.
Little’s average of almost 7 yards a carry kept West Hall always playing on their heels and never able to gain control of the game.
North Hall completed 5 of 8 passes and, even more important, averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt, a winning number as long as you don’t throw an interception, which North Hall didn’t do. The Trojan power numbers put the Trojan No. 1, but I, like a lot of fans, are going to miss the traditional North Hall, Gainesville game, where the athletes decide it on the field.
The Trojans play Banks County (3-5, 2-3) at home on Friday night.
2. Gainesville (7-1, 6-0) PR 2.62, average points 45.25, points allowed 17.25: The Red Elephants are coming off an open date and play Loganville (2-6) Friday night at City Park Stadium.
3. Chestatee (7-1, 5-0) PR 1.55, average points 40.25, points allowed 26: Right now this looks like the best War Eagle team we have seen.
These Chestatee players are as tough up front as any team in Hall County, until proven otherwise. Their win/loss record is as good as the best and their power numbers are competitive.
The War Eagles had 500 yards rushing last Friday vs. Lumpkin County, and those are championship type numbers and the War Eagles offensive line keeps winning battle after battle. Winning and losing is very often won in those six inches which separates the offensive and defensive lines.
The 2012 War Eagles have been dominant in those six inches. Is Chestatee good enough to beat undefeated Monroe Area (8-0, 5-0) Friday on the road?
As tough as the War Eagles are, I wouldn’t bet against them.
4. Flowery Branch (7-2, 7-0) PR 1.49, average points 32.33, points allowed 21.67: The Falcons went into the locker room at halftime last Friday night trailing a good Clarke Central team 6-3 and came back out and dominated Clarke Central in the second half, winning the half 21-7 and the game 24-13. They were led by Justin Curry, who averaged better than 5 yards a carry.
The Branch lost two fumbles which could be costly in a close, hard-fought game. When you and I see an upset in football, it can almost always be traced back to turnovers.
When I was on Woody Hayes’ staff at Ohio State we were loaded with talented football players, and he knew the only way some teams could beat us was if we turned the ball over too many times in critical situations.
In a few weeks, the really good area teams will move into the playoffs, and they will play other good teams like themselves.
The winners and losers in those games against two equally talented teams and are often decided by turnovers.
Friday night the Falcons have a bye, but on Nov. 9 the game at Flowery Branch against Gainesville will be like the Ohio State, Michigan games — where two great teams will have 48 minutes to decide the championship.
5. Johnson (5-4) PR 0.90, average points 23.67, points allowed 26.33: Last Friday night the Knights lost to Pickens
49-21, however a couple of Johnson Knights stood out — Dre Johnson had a 100-yard interception return and Cedric Harris had 88 yards rushing and a touchdown.
I have to tip my hat to these two fine efforts. I am sure I have said this before, but I have seen an improvement in this year’s Johnson Knights. The seniors at Johnson look to me they are building a foundation for the players who will be coming behind them.
When I have seen them play, they play hard the whole game and play with a discipline I have not always seen in previous years. Johnson has a bye Friday night.
6. East Hall (4-4, 2-3) PR 0.82, average points 25.88, points allowed 31.50: This past week the East Hall Vikings exploded for 56 points in a victory over Banks County. Austin Mahaffey, behind a championship quality blocking by his offensive line, rushed for 230 yards and scored three touchdowns, helping to lead his teammates to their fourth victory.
Friday night, a top effort against perennial power Buford at home would give these hard-hitting young men a victory they would be talking about for years.
The Vikings play Buford (5-3,3-2 7-AAA) at home Friday.
7. West Hall (3-5, 2-3) PR 0.53, average points 17.38, points allowed 32.63: West Hall was held to around 3 yards a carry last Friday night by North Hall. This is a game where North Hall was ahead 34-7 at halftime.
West Hall has improved fundamentally this season, but it takes a couple of hard working years before your offseason weight program starts to show up on the field. West Hall heads to White County (5-3, 3-2 7-AAA) Friday night.