We are barely past Labor Day. Daily high temperatures are still in the 90s. However, we’ve already seen some trends start to emerge in Hall County high school football.
Here’s five things to know while your favorite school is still trudging through the non-region portion of the football schedule.
NORTH HALL HAS AN ELITE RUNNING GAME
Let me know if you’ve heard this before: the Trojans only throw the ball five times, but still rush for more than 300 yards in an easy victory. This has been the case for North Hall (2-0) through it’s first two games of 2019 and is the long-standing formula of success for the Trojans. Right now, North Hall is averaging 314 yards per game rushing, while not throwing the ball more than 10 times either night. In week 1, it was a split load between Jacob Dickey (14 carries, 91 yards), Cody Smith (11 carries, 91 yards) and JT Fair (80 yards). Last week, in a 16-0 win against Jackson County, Fair took control for the Trojans with 13 carries for 203 yards. His longest of two touchdown runs was 80 yards in the second quarter, putting them ahead 7-0.
This week, North Hall has a tough non-region contest against Class 7A Cherokee, which has posted a 29-14 win against North Forsyth and beat Seqouyah 14-0 on Aug. 30.
The Trojans won this matchup last year, 27-17, in Gainesville.
PRESSLEY IS DANGEROUS ON THE OUTSIDE
Chestatee wide receiver Seth Pressley lead’s the state with 378 receiving yards through two games, 19 ahead of Jaylon Barden from Westside-Macon. Pressley’s latest effort was the best of his career, posting 12 catches for 232 yards in a gut-wrenching 45-42 overtime loss against Dawson County. He was the main target all night for War Eagles (0-2) junior quarterback Christian Charles who also had a career night, completing 24-of-41 throws for 389 yards and six touchdowns.
Pressley’s season-opening effort was almost as strong with touchdown catches of 55 and 22 yards against North Hall.
Taking some of the pressure off of Pressley, Hunter Chambers and Caleb Clark have shown to be formidable targets, combining for almost 200 yards receiving against Dawson County.
After a bye, Chestatee returns to action against East Hall on Sept. 6.
GAINESVILLE IS STILL A MYSTERY
Are the Red Elephants going to be like the team that battled to a gritty win against Class 4As No. 8 Mary Persons to open the season on Aug. 23? Or is Gainesville going to struggle to put together four quarters, as was the case in a 21-7 loss to North Forsyth in Coal Mountain?
We still don’t know.
What we do know is that the Red Elephants have another challenging Class 7A battle, this time against Lambert, on Friday in Cumming. This might be the week for Gainesville to put it all together against a struggling Longhorns (0-2).
Gainesville has the playmakers to put points on the board. Quarterback Gionni Williams can rip off a big run with any missed assignments on the defensive side of the ball, as he showed many times against Mary Persons.
Giovanni Martinez is a much-needed boost for the Red Elephants with his confidence kicking field goals.
FLOWERY BRANCH HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN REGION
The Falcons (1-0) have more than enough playmakers to compensate for the devastating loss of senior quarterback Elijah Gainey with a season-ending knee injury in the preseason scrimmage. In his place, Falcons coach Ben Hall plugged in sophomore David Renard, who stepped in and completed all five throws in the team’s opener against East Hall on Aug. 23.
Flowery Branch has plugged into its running game, with bruising junior Jaizen Ellingham and Chase Dial-Watson taking the workload and rushing for almost seven yards per carry in a 50-0 victory.
Due to cramps in the season opener, we’ve still yet to see the full potential of starting running back Chandler White, who had four touches for 21 yards against the Vikings.
The Falcons’ offense will be tested Friday against an athletic Clarke Central squad in Athens.
Flowery Branch is looking to break through the top of Region 7-4A, which is led by back-to-back state champion Blessed Trinity and 2017 state finalist Marist.
DON’T SLEEP ON JOHNSON
The Knights look crisp under first-year coach Stan Luttrell, a Hall County veteran head coach.
After an admirable 4-6 mark in 2018, the Knights have a real chance of improving on that record and going into Region 8-5A play at a perfect 5-0.
Johnson is certainly clutch, so far in 2019.
To snap a six-game losing streak against West Hall in the Battle of Oakwood, Steven Flores drilled a 42-yard, game-winning field goal on the final play of the game in Week 2.
The key for the Knights is ball control. Despite relinquishing a late lead, Johnson kept the ball on offense for more than 19 of 24 minutes in the second half against West Hall.
Up next, Johnson visits Cherokee Bluff on Friday.