During halftime of the North Hall High’s 62-13 region rout of Fannin County last Friday night, there was some popular discontent among many of the Trojans starters.
Despite holstering a 29-point halftime lead, David Bishop and his staff — from a distance — witnessed a great display of accountability amongst the squad.
The Trojans (6-1, 2-1 Region 7-3A), whose offense had already begun to pad their stat sheet on what turned out to be a historic night offensively, were still fixated on a small batch of errors made during the first half that included a missed extra point.
“Our kids were fussing, not necessarily at each other, about the mistakes and talking about how we can’t make those mistakes. And that was without the coaches,” Bishop recalled.
Bishop, who had no idea their 663 yards from scrimmage in the win set a new program mark, was more pleased to see his players maintain that high standard of excellence they have set from day one — even as a lead ballooned to a wide margin.
“When you look at stuff like that, it’s pretty special when you have a team that can do those kind of things and win on top of it,” Bishop said.
It’s also another indication to the longtime coach that North Hall continues to be on the right track.
And with three weeks left in the regular season, the Trojans are another step closer to another playoff berth. A win this Friday night against Lumpkin County at the Brickyard would clinch a spot in the postseason for the fourth straight season. But before even entertaining the idea of snapping a playoff winless streak dating back to 2012, Bishop said they’ll need to take care of business first against the Indians (3-4, 1-2).
Lumpkin County’s last win against the Trojans was under Tommy Jones in 2010. North Hall, ranking inside the top 10 for offense and defense, will look to maintain that streak behind a speedy Wing-T attack that has averaged 385 yards and 39 points a contest this season.
The Trojans continue to be paced by a bevy of playmakers beginning with senior Daniel Jackson (595 rushing yards, 14 total touchdowns), who spearheads a vast, committee-run backfield that has combined for 2,250 yards and 31 scores this season. Jackson is followed by sophomore JT Fair, who exploded for 239 yards and three scores on just eight carries against Fannin County last week. Starting quarterback David Seavey (366 rushing yards, 13 total TDs) complemented Fair’s breakout game with 129 yards and a pair of scores through the air.
The Trojans have scored 60 or more points in both region wins thus far. It has been the product of Bishop expanding the playbook each week as a challenge to his offense, he said.
After spending the last few seasons chasing the competition, Bishop’s squad has found itself in a different predicament as a team in contention to play for second place in Region 7-3A.
“The last few years, we used the terms we have been the hunters. And now we’ve become the hunted,” Bishop said. “Now people are looking to knock us off. So that kind of brings out their “A” game...And our kids have to be aware of that.”
The Indians are a program with a reputation for hanging in games by churning out small increments of yardage at a time in the wishbone attack. Lumpkin County is fronted by Luke Smith (668 yards, eight TD), who ran for three touchdowns — including a 77-yarder — as Lumpkin County accrued 429 rushing yards in a 42-19 rout of Cherokee Bluff two weeks prior, its lone region win this season.
“When they get rolling, it’s hard to stop,” Bishop said. “They’re gonna try to run out the clock, so it does put pressure on your offense to score every time they have the ball.”
Bishop said finding ways to get their playmakers outside and in space will be key in preventing this one from becoming a 21-14, 14-10 type contest.
“They are pretty big up front (defensively)...But speed wise, I feel that with Drew, JT, David Seavey and Danny Jackson, if we can get them on the edge and out in space, it’s gonna be a tough matchup for them,” Bishop said. “Right now, our speed is pretty dang good in this region.”