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Clausen: Gainesville the best in Hall County
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At the end of eight weeks, the Hall County public school football teams have played 43 total games. They have scored 1,566 points and their defenses have allowed 941 points. They have won 67.5 percent of their total games and lost 32.5 percent.

There has been a total of 2,507 points scored by both Hall county teams and their opponents, 62.5 percent of the scoring done by Hall County teams and 37.5 percent of the scoring done by the opponents.

So, we’re winning 2/3 of our games and scoring approximately 2/3 of the points scored. That’s pretty darn good.

I have been watching Hall County football for a little over 20 years. I have always felt the football coaches have done a great job of preparing our players for Friday night. Good game plans, and like all great teams they take a very disciplined approach to the game.

On Friday night, if you line up against a Red Elephant, a Trojan, a Knight, a War Eagle, Viking, a Falcon or a Spartan play after play, they will make you pay the price. In the event you win, you will have earned it. There are no freebies in playing against a Hall County football player. This old football coach couldn’t have picked a better place to retire. You’ll always find my wife Betsy and I on Friday night at one of the stadiums.

1. Gainesville (6-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA) Power rating 3.72; Average Points Scored 49.43; Average points allowed 13.29: The Red Elephants continue to consistently play at a championship level. And they are a team that improves each week.

I watched practice, and they practice like champions. Gainesville coach Bruce Miller and his staff insist on it. There isn’t any question that Red Elephants quarterback Deshaun Watson is a splendid high school quarterback and probably one of the top college prospects in the country. His three first-half touchdown passes set the tone for the game last week against Salem, leading his teammates to a 58-8 victory.

Watson also completed 18 passes in 23 attempts for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Byrd rushed 12 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns, Watson ran six times for 47 yards, and Josh Holderfield carried the ball once for 25 yards.

Jay Gaudlock caught seven passes for 69 yards and Rodney Lackey caught four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Chastin Newman, Chris Williamson and Orrin Ragland all had multiple caches and each caught at least one touchdown pass for Gainesville.

The Gainesville defense played championship-level defense, which included three pass interceptions and one fumble recovery, including Chandler Newton’s intercepted pass that he ran back for a 37 yard touchdown.

Gainesville held Salem to a total of 188 yards, while the Red Elephants had 392 total yards for the game. Late in the game, the younger players finished the game for the Red Elephants and they looked just as good as their more seasoned teammates. Gainesville visits Clarke Central (5-1, 4-0) on Friday in Athens.

2. North Hall (6-0, 3-0 Region 7-AAA) Power rating 3.09; Average points scored 51; average points allowed 16.50: Last Friday, the undefeated Trojans won 62-7 at Fannin County. The Trojans scored 28 points in the first quarter, led by quarterback Andrew Smith’s two touchdown passes, and he ran for another score to lead the Trojan offense.

Trojans running back Zac Little had a 56-yard touchdown run and finished with 85 yards on just four carries. Meanwhile, Brannon Dyer had a fine night with 61 yards and two touchdowns on three carries and a catch for nine yards.

Nolan Tucker also scored for the team. It was a great game for all. North Hall went into halftime with a 48-0 lead. The Trojans’ defense held Fannin County to -1 yards rushing on 25 carries. That’s incredible run defense.

North Hall had a total of 454 yards of which 342 were on the ground. The fantastic defense held Fannin County to 122 total yards. North Hall coach Bob Christmas’ wishbone offense is extremely hard to prepare for.

On Friday, North Hall visits White County (4-2, 2-1) in Cleveland.

3. Chestatee (5-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA) Power rating 2.01, Average points scored 25.83; Average points allowed 12.83: The War Eagle defense has only allowed one touchdown in the last three weeks and recorded a 27-0 win against Walnut Grove last week. Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell has his fine defenders playing on all cylinders. It doesn’t hurt that the War Eagles’ running game eats up a lot of clock.

Statistically, the War Eagles have the best defense in the county and are improving each week. It’s close though, because Gainesville’s defense is nipping right at their heels. The War Eagles coaching staff is making good use of their practice time. Khalil Cantrell, Rob Minor and Cody Humphries dominated the line of scrimmage for Chestatee, allowing Lutrell’s linebackers to flow freely to the football.

Zac Cheshire and Tray Bryant both scored touchdowns, and Wyatt Burgess caught a screen pass and took it 45 yards for a touchdown for the War Eagles. Chestatee’s well-balanced offense and solid defense have them tied on top of Region 8-AAAA standings. Chestatee visits Lanier (5-1, 2-1) on Friday in Sugar Hill.

4. Flowery Branch (5-2, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA) Power rating 1.75; Average points scored 34.00; average points allowed 19.43: Flowery Branch’s power rating puts them fourth in the county. However, they are clearly competitive with any of the three teams I have listed above them.

If you’re going to play the Falcons, you better wear your hitting suit because they are a fine team and have played a very competitive schedule. They are tied with Gainesville and Clarke Central for the lead in Region 8-AAAAA.

Flowery Branch beat Winder Barrow 44-7 last Friday. Falcons quarterback Jackson McDonald had another efficient night passing, completing 7 out of 10 passing attempts for 170 yards and three touchdowns, which included one for a 2-point conversion. He finished with five all-purpose touchdowns, including two on the ground. Leading 44-0 at the end of the third quarter, a bunch of young Falcons got a chance to play in the fourth quarter.

The only score against the Falcons was from a special teams breakdown. The defense was unscored against, and the defense intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles. Flowery Branch visits Heritage (4-3, 3-2 Region 8-AAAAA) on Friday in Conyers.

5. West Hall (4-2, 2-1 Region 7 AAA) Power rating 1.64, Average points scored 32.50; Average points allowed 19.83: West Hall had a bye this past week and has been getting ready to play East Hall (3-3, 0-3) on Friday night at Spartan Field. This should be a great game. Both teams had byes this week and are ready to go toe-to-toe.

6. East Hall (3-3, 0-3 Region 7-AAA) Power rating 1.47, Average points scored 37.83; Average points allowed 25.67: With a bye this past week, East Hall has had time to prepare for the cross-county game against West Hall. It should be a great game.

7. Johnson (2-5) Power rating .38; Average points scored 14.14; Average points allowed 37.57: Johnson High School got a big win over Clarkston, 31-21, last Friday night. Turnovers by the Knights’ defense created havoc for the Clarkston offense. The Knights forced four turnovers, including two fumbles that were returned for touchdowns.

Jesse Griggs rushed for 114 yards on 34 carries and Luis Hernandez had another 35 yards on seven carries. Statistics would indicate that the Knights’ offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Hernandez caught the only two passes, one for 30 yards and a touchdown. Johnson travels to Druid Hills (2-4, 0-3 Region 2-AAAAAA) Friday night.

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