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Clausen: No change at the top of this week's power ratings
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Two weeks is early in the season, but these power numbers would suggest, unless things change dramatically, the Hall County fans are in for one great football game on Nov. 6 when Gainesville travels south on I-985 to play Flowery Branch.

A lot of things can happen between now and then. When I worked for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, Woody would tell us everyday “we were either getting better or getting worse”. What you and I don’t know today for sure is which teams are getting better and will there be a huge upset before Gainesville and Flowery Branch play.

Will one of Hall County’s two best teams get complacent or overconfident and forget how tough it is to beat anybody in the great game of football? Teams, particularly young teams, make tremendous improvement between Week 1 and Week 10. Four teams from Region 7-AAA go to the playoffs, and last year that included three Hall County teams. Does Hall still have three of the region’s best teams?

1. GAINESVILLE (2-0): Average points scored 37.5, average points allowed 0. Power Rating 75. A team like Gainesville who can run and can stop the run, like Franklin County found out last Friday night, is tough to beat. However, in today’s high school football if you don’t have a competitive passing game, you will have trouble winning the region and then winning playoff games. Gainesville has a good passing game, one which will keep you honest and one which can be outstanding if it continues to improve as the season goes on.

If you didn’t see the Franklin County-Gainesville game last Friday night you might think that Franklin County is not very good, and you would be wrong. Franklin County players are tough, they play hard and my guess, when the season is over, they may well win half their games.

The Gainesville defense is as fast as I think I can remember seeing in Hall County. You run a sweep and they will stop you for little or no gain and there will be eight or nine players within 3 yards of the tackle. Running out of a very effective 3-4 alignment, an alignment most of their opponents don’t see very much, they put their extremely effective linebacker corps in a position to run to every play. Blake Sims hit 67 percent of his passes and averaged 7.4 yards per attempt Friday, while his top receiver, Tai-ler Jones had seven receptions for 96 yards. Teryan Rucker averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 15 carries.

2. FLOWERY BRANCH (2-0): Average points scored 36.5, average points allowed 7.5. Power Rating 4.87. Last Friday night the Branch beat a pretty good Lumpkin County team, 35-7. Conner Shaw had an almost perfect night passing the football, completing 15 passes in 16 attempts and averaging almost 14 yards per pass attempt.

The great advantage to the Branch’s spread option is Conner knows before the snap you must have a player (or players) assigned to the dive, the QB keep and the pitch, which limits your ability to play pass defense. Frequently, he knows before the ball is snapped what receiver is likely to be open and where. There may not have been a quarterback in the country who was better than 15 out of 16, and if there was my guess his team was running a spread option offense.

Flowery Branch’s fine young defense had another good night, they allowed only 3.8 yards per rush, 6 yards per pass attempt and had two interceptions.

3. NORTH HALL (1-1): Average points scored 13.5, average points allowed 19. Power Rating 0.71. I talked to a couple of football people who both told me that the Trojans lined up and played one of area’s best high school teams in a very tough and competitive football game. North Hall’s big guys were not the least bit intimidated by their tough, physical opponent.

Buford’s superior depth was the margin between the two fine football teams. North Hall rushed the ball 38 times and averaged 3.2 yards per rush, while the Buford offense averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 37 attempts. Buford completed 50 percent of its passes and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. North Hall’s passing game averaged 5.4 yards per pass attempt.

The real margin of victory for Buford came in turnovers; the Wolves intercepted two passes and recovered three fumbles.

Turn the ball over five times as North Hall did and you will lose 90 percent of the time. As a coach, I like this Buford game on the North Hall schedule. It was going to be a tough game to win, but if I am a North Hall player, I now know that my team is as tough as anybody we have to play.

4. WEST HALL (0-2): Average points scored 23.5, average points allowed 41.5. Power Rating 0.57. This past Friday night the Spartans played Pickens in Jasper and lost, 28-21. It was Pickens’ opening game for the 2009 season.

Shunquez Stephens was 17-for-29 passing for 206 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per pass attempt. Marquise Young rushed for 93 yards and caught seven passes for 58 yards. Ishmail Nuckles caught four passes for 105 yards and scored one touchdown.
Last season Pickens had a young team which only won two games. This year the Dragons have a number of returning starters and are expecting a good season.

5. JOHNSON (0-2): Average points scored 1.5, average points allowed 24. Power Rating 0.06. Last Friday night the Knights lost to an undefeated, unscored upon AAAAA school, North Forsyth, 28-0. The Knights have lost to two very good football teams — North Hall and North Forsyth — and Friday night they have a must-win game at Chestatee.

North Forsyth, one of North Georgia’s very strong running teams, chewed up 378 yards while only throwing six passes, one of which was an 84-yard touchdown. North Forsyth’s passing game averaged 36 yards per pass attempt. Great running teams need a passing game which will keep the defense honest, which North Forsyth has. Try too hard to take the run away like Johnson did last Friday and you will get burned with the pass. 

6. CHESTATEE (0-1): Average points scored 0, average points allowed 34. Power Rating 0.03. After an opening night loss to the Red Elephants, the War Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for Friday’s game when they host Johnson.

7. EAST HALL (0-2): Average points scored 0, Average points allowed 21.5. Power Rating 0.02. East Hall was shut out by a very strong White County defense last Friday night.
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