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Clausen: Second half keeps Big Red on top
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At the end of Week 3 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. This week I rated the teams on the ratio of points scored against points allowed.

We (the Hall County football fans) have seen just 30 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 team work 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, we 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.

Gainesville (3-0)

Average Points Scored 33: Average Points Allowed 4.67: Power Rating 7.07

Last Friday night White County was leading Gainesville 7-0 at half-time, when the Red Elephants came out and completely took over the game in the third quarter, and then dominated the second half. When the game was over Gainesville had winning numbers in most important categories. The Red Elephant passing game, which put up winning numbers, was not quite as efficient as it had been during the first two weeks. Blake Sims averaged 8.24 yards per pass attempt, a winning but not dominating number, while spreading the ball to five different receivers and completing 58 percent of his passes. On the negative side, Gainesville threw three interceptions. When a good team loses, it is almost always the result of turnovers (fumbles and interceptions). Gainesville has a terrific spread passing game, however, interceptions are frequently the result of trying to force the ball to a favorite receiver rather than throwing into the weakness of the pass defenses. T. J. Jones, one of the best open field athletes I have seen this season, caught five passes for 60 yards. Jones also carried the ball twice, averaging 10 yards per carry. Sims showed his ability to run, averaging over 10 yards per carry on eight carries. The Red Elephants also had 10 penalties for 87 yards, that’s a high number and could be costly in a close contest. Gainesville’s ability to run from the spread makes them very difficult to defense, a lesson we all learned from watching Flowery Branch in 2007.

West Hall (3-0)

Average Points Scored 25.33: Average Points Allowed 10: Power Rating 2.53

The Spartans keep playing better and better each week. In week 1, their running game was almost non-existent, and last Friday night they ran the ball 20 times for 206 yards, an average of 10.3 yards per carry. That is absolute domination by the offensive line plus great effort by Marquise Stephens, who averaged 13.67 per carry on 12 carries. His quarterback playing brother, Shunquez, averaged over five yards per carry, while having a terrific night passing the football. Shunquez Stephens passed for 241 yards at an average of 9.27 yards per pass attempt. Rodney Gibson caught five passes for 127 yards, which is an average of 27 yards per reception. Terrell Penland had three receptions for 73 yards, an average almost 25 yards per reception. The Spartan defenses held Gilmer County to 3.5 yards per rushing attempt and kept their passing game to 6.64 yards per pass attempt, those are both winning numbers on defense.

Flowery Branch (2-1)

Average Points Scored 31.33: Average Points Allowed 18.67: Power Rating 1.68

Greg Palmer took the opening kick off 76 yards for the Falcon’s first touchdown, but it took a last second field goal last Friday night for the Falcons to beat Creekview in Canton. By the way, when I was coaching I was always pleased to get back on the bus with a one point win, winning is almost never easy. The Creekview defense must have had a great night as they held Connor Shaw, the Falcons quarterback, to 74 yards passing in 19 attempts which is an average of 3.89 yards per pass attempt. A team seldom wins with those kind of passing numbers. Shaw was also held to 2.71 yards per rush on 17 rushing attempts. When you defense the option, you can stop, or almost stop any phase of the option if on defense you commit in your game plan enough resources, but the good option team will beat you with another phase as Flowery Branch did last Friday night. Daniel Drummond carried the ball 13 times for 99 yards, an average of 7.61 yards per carry. You might say that Drummond’s running and special teams were the keys to victory. You might ask how good is Creekview,? The record would suggest pretty good. In their only other game this season they had a one point loss in a double over time to undefeated Class AAAA Sequoyah.

North Hall (1-1)

Average Points Scored 21: Average Points Allowed 25.5: Power Rating 0.82

Coming off an open date, after a 45-14 loss to one of our Country’s finest high school football teams, the Buford Wolves, the Trojans have had an extra week to prepare for their biggest rivalry game — Gainesville. Always well prepared and coming from a tradition were they give a great effort every Friday night, this game is almost always a great contest.

Chestatee (1-1)

Average Points Scored 28: Average Points Allowed 36.5 Power Rating 0.77

I was at the Johnson Chestatee game last Friday night. When the game started it was a game with two pretty evenly matched football teams, and it was an exciting game all the way through. Chestatee has a larger roster and more depth than Johnson, which paid dividends in the fourth quarter when Chestatee totally dominated the fourth quarter. At halftime, Johnson had a 24-21 lead in a game which, at that time, looked like anybody’s ball game. Led by one of North Georgia’s very finest linebackers Gilbert Espinoza, the Johnson defense was able to match the War Eagles blow for blow. I noticed two halftime adjustments the War Eagles made on offense which really threw the Johnson defense off guard. One, they opened the second half with a well executed wide receiver screen play run by the spread formation teams, but a play that I had not expected from the War Eagles and I don’t think the Knights did either. This forces a lot of adjustments on the sideline and takes some focus off of the basic War Eagles veer option running game. Second, they ran what we used to call the outside veer, with the dive back hitting behind his tight end, instead of hitting behind the outside hip of the offensive guard. The angle running back Ben Souther took as he crossed the line of scrimmage was one Espinoza couldn’t get to. Chestatee was running a play Johnson’s best football player couldn’t get to turning Ben Souther lose on a defense without the resources to stop him. Let me remind you Souther averaged almost 6 yards a carry against the Red Elephants, probably at this point in the season the best defense in Hall County.

Johnson (0-3)

Average Points Scored 19.33: Average Points Allowed 33.67: Power Rating 0.57

Gilberto Espinoza, the fine junior linebacker is the most instinctive defensive football players I have seen this season. He reminds me a lot of Jesse Tuggle who I coached with the Atlanta Falcons. Johnson played a great half of football last Friday night against Chestatee. They went in at half time with a 24-21, lead against a very good football team. What happened? Johnson lacks the depth that most of the other Hall County teams have, they dress out fewer players, and when an injury or two happens, they are forced to replace experienced players with freshman, while the game is still competitive. The Knights ran for 235 yards in the first half against Chestatee, that is a great effort and a great game plan, however they played the second half missing some of their key players. Anthony Prophet is a gifted athlete playing the QB position he averaged 6.8 yards per carry running, but in spite having a good passing arm, he had a rough night throwing into the War Eagle pass defense, which was much improved from the one I saw against Gainesville a couple of weeks ago.

East Hall (0-3)

Average Points Scored 9.33: Average Points Allowed 25: Power Rating 0.037

Having lost to Lumpkin County this past week, East Hall travels to Ellijay tomorrow night for what I predict will be their first win of the 2008 season against Gilmer County. Harrison Dale leads this Viking team having completed 60 percent of his passes in the first three games. His three leading receivers have been Kiante Young who has eight receptions for 99 yards, Desmond Gardner eight receptions for 60 yards and Andrew Ivester who has six receptions for 64 yards and one touchdown. Corey Richardson is the Vikings leading rusher having averaged 10.4 yards per carry on 15 carries.

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