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Clausen: For the seventh week in a row, Gainesville is atop the power rankings
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At the end of Week 7 the Hall County football players have created the following power ratings. As the season goes on I take into consideration the following criteria: 1) head to head competitions; 2) win/loss record; 3) ratio of points scored vs. points allowed; 4) opponents win/loss percentage. For this week we rated the teams on the ratio of points scored against points allowed.

We (the Hall County football fans) have seen just 70 percent of the season, two of the great lessons of competitive sports are learning to bounce back from defeat and to be humble in victory, and one is just as important as the other. These proud young men have chosen to test their skills, their discipline and teamwork in front of thousands of people every Friday night, please let me be among those who tips his hat to each one of them.

After studying football stats for 15 seasons in the National Football League, and eight seasons at Ohio State and William and Mary, I have found some stats more important than others. Each week I will look inside the stats and try and highlight the ones which separate the strong teams from the weaker teams.

1. Gainesville (7-0)

Average Points Scored 35: Average Points Allowed 5.71: Power Rating 6.13: Gainesville easily dominated a much younger and less experienced East Hall team last Friday night.

Blake Sims, Gainesville’s junior quarterback, only played a quarter and a half, but turned in very strong numbers passing the football. He completed 78 percent of his passes and averaged a very strong 16.56 yards per pass attempt.

On offense, Gainesville averaged 6.63 yards per rush on 30 rushing attempts, while the defense held East Hall to 1.96 yards per rushing attempt.

T.J. Jones led Gainesville’s receiving corp by catching nine passes for 163 yards, an average of over 18 yards per reception. Jones also carried the football once for 12 yards.

Teryan Rucker led the rushing attack carrying the ball nine times for 77 yards, which is 8.5 yards per run.

The Red Elephants play host to Gilmer on Oct. 24 a Bobby Gruhn Field.

2. Flowery Branch (6-1)

Average Points Scored 35.57: Average Points Allowed 12: Power Rating 2.96: If I could use three words to describe the 2008 Falcons, I think I would say “better, better and better.” This year’s Falcons seem to play better each week. I am not sure that Flowery Branch could have dominated North Hall on the scoreboard, like they did last Friday, earlier in the season.

What did I see in this improving Falcon football team? One, Flowery Branch’s option football is smoother and the decision making during the option phase was almost flawless.

Connor Shaw finally had a chance to demonstrate his open-field running skills. It is my belief that Shaw’s effectiveness running the quarterback keeper on the option was enhanced by the fact that Daniel Drummond averaged 35 yards per carry the week before.

The Falcons well-executed option is based on attacking the area where you are the weakest, and each week they are better at it.

Shaw was simply taking what the North Hall defense was willing to give him. The Falcons’ quarterback ended up carrying the football 13 times and averaged over 10 yards per carry.

Before I leave the offense, I want to mention a very alert play made by Chris Lipscomb, a defensive back/wide receiver for Flowery Branch. Early in the game, the North Hall defense caught the option at a decision point and blew the play up, forcing a fumble.

At the very best it looked like it would have put the Falcons in a long-yardage situation. Lipscomb not only recovered the football saving his team from a disaster, but picked it up and took the ball 48 yards for a touchdown.

Flowery Branch’s defensive line was also dominating. If it had not been for North Hall’s Matt Christmas’ 64-yard run in the waning minutes of the game, the Falcon defense would have held the Trojans to 2.68 yards per carry. A wing-T team cannot sustain drives and control both time and the football when held to this kind of rushing average. Flowery Branch’s pass defense, which received considerable help from a blistering pass rush, held North Hall to a 33 percent completion average, an average of only 2.75 yards per pass attempt. Flowery Branch visits East Hall on Friday night.

3. Chestatee (4-2)

Average Points Scored 31.5: Average Points Allowed 16 Power Rating 1.97: Last Friday night the War Eagles improved their power rating considerably with a 57-0 win over Gilmer County.

The War Eagles’ defense could hardly put up more impressive numbers, holding Gilmer to only two first downs, 24 yards rushing and an average of less than one yard per attempt. They also only only allowed a 31-percent completion average with 3.46 yards per pass attempt.

This was all accomplished while Chestatee’s offense was dominating every phase of the game.
The War Eagles averaged 7.24 yards on 37 rushing attempts, while Ethan Souther had a career night throwing the football.

Ethan Souther was 8-for-8 throwing the football and averaged 12.63 yards per pass attempt.

Ethan Souther split time between quarterback and running back and led his team in rushing with 126 yards in nine carries with an average of 14 yards per attempt. Younger brother Ben Souther had his usual workman-like night averaging 10.7 yards per carry on 10 carries.

Andy Etris had a big night and was always around the football, leading his team in total hits. Chase Vasser had his usual dominating night leading his team in solo tackles while contributing a tackle for a loss. Jeremy Wilkins had two tackles for a loss and made a significant contribution to the War Eagles’ shut out. Chestatee visits White County on Friday.

4. West Hall (4-3)

Average Points Scored 22.86 Average Points Allowed 29.57 Power Rating 0.65: Wow, what a game West Hall had against Johnson.

The Spartans won 56-55 when they stopped Johnson’s two-point conversion attempt with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

Both teams combined for 992 total yards. Where the Knights dominated the game on the ground, West Hall’s passing game dominated through the air.

Shunquez Stephens, the Spartans’ sophomore quarterback, threw for 379 yards and averaged 11.48 yards per pass attempt, while completing 76 percent of his pass attempts. This was all done without throwing any interceptions. Stephens spread the ball around to four different receivers, each of which had multiple catches. Shunquez’s brother Marquise Stephens had nine receptions for 153 yards, Terrell Penland caught five passes for 87 yards, Rodney Gibson caught five passes for 73 yards and tight end Kyle Weatherly made five receptions for 66 yards.

Neither team shined on defense, however, the Spartans’ pass defense put up winning numbers holding the Johnson pass offense to 5.5 yards per pass attempt with a 40-percent completion rate. West Hall visits Lumpkin County on Friday.

5. North Hall (3-3)

Average Points Scored 16: Average Points Allowed 24.5: Power Rating 0.65: Last Friday night Flowery Branch was able to keep the North Hall wing-T offense from sustaining drives, which would have allowed the Trojans to control the time of possession and keep the Flowery Branch offense off the field.

Held to just 2.75 yards per rush, without the Christmas run towards the end of the game, and averaging 2.75 yards per pass attempt, the Trojans’ offense was dominated in every phase of the game.
On defense, they were unable to slow down the Falcons’ option running game.

Shaw took advantage of the Trojans’ effort to control the dive portion of the option and averaged over 10 yards per carry on 13 rushing attempts. Drummond still averaged 6.83 yards per carry and Flowery Branch’s Rodriquez Frazier averaged 19 yards per carry on two pitch plays. One very bright spot for North Hall last Friday night was its pass defense, which was extremely effective.

Flowery Branch’s quarterback could never find any wide-open receivers and the Trojans held the Falcons to a very impressive 4.75 yards per pass attempt.

North Hall is still undefeated in subregion play and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Friday night North Hall must rebound against subregion opponent Pickens County at the Brickyard.

6. Johnson (1-6)

Average Points Score 22.86: Average Points Allowed 36.43: Power Rating .63: I am going to mention six Johnson players who combined for the finest overall rushing stat that I have ever seen in one football game. I am not sure I have ever seen, at any level of football, one team rush for 473 yards. This incredible record was the result of 52 rushing attempts with a per attempt rushing average of 9.10 yards.
Johnson lost to West Hall last Friday night, but I don’t think we should forget the incredible effort of the following six offensive linemen: Senior center Justin Hadden, freshmen right guard Blake Forrester, sophomore right tackle David Harkins, senior left guard, Major Borders, junior left tackle E. J. Wright and sophomore Tryron Hendrix.

Offensive line play is rough work every down. Nobody appreciates what you do but your coaches, your parents and your teammates. The real lesson we can all learn from the efforts of these splendid young men — life is all about showing up every down, giving it your very best effort, then going back to the huddle and getting ready to do it again. Behind this blocking unit Mantevius Rucker rushed for 162 yards and averaged 10.13 per rushing attempt, Mick Shannon rushed for 155 yards and averaged 9.12 per attempt, while quarterback Anthony Prophet added 123 yards and averaged 10.25 per attempt. The Knights visit West Forsyth in Cumming.

7. East Hall (1-5)

Average Points Scored 11.83: Average Points Allowed 33.33: Power Rating 0.36: Last Friday night against a superior Red Elephants football team these young East Hall Vikings came to play and were not the least bit intimidated. Coach Bryan Gray had his team ready to give a great effort, which they did. Gainesville had good, but not great, stats running and passing the football largely because of intense play on the part of the Vikings’ defense. East Hall was unable to mount much of a rushing game against Gainesville’s really good 3-4 defense — join the crowd, nobody else has either.

East Hall’s passing game was not bad. The Vikings completed 55 percent of their passes at an average of 5.91 yards per pass attempt. These kind of passing stats will not win for you, but it shows you that East Hall’s young quarterback Desmon Gardner and his receivers can pass and catch. Friday the Vikings play host to an impressive Flowery Branch football team.

Chuck Clausen is a Hall County resident who coached high school, college and professional football for 28 years and who currently serves as an analyst for high school games on WDUN 550-AM. His opinion is not necessarily that of The Times.

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