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Clausen: Trojans, Falcons have look of champions
Power Ratings
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At the end of Week 9 the Hall County football teams 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.

From now through the remainder of the season, head-to-head competition will trump the power numbers if most of the other factors are pretty close.

Each week I look inside the stats of all teams, read newspaper accounts and talk to football people who have seen teams I have not seen yet, and I always see at least one game.

1. North Hall (8-0)

Average Points Scored 48.75: Average Points Allowed 7.25: Power Rating 6.72

North Hall had a number of players who put up incredible numbers last Friday night against a pretty good Lumpkin County team.

Dylon Wolf carried the ball five times for 134 yards, an average of 26.8 yards per carry, as coach Bob Christmas used his counter criss-cross play for the first time in the 2007 season. Fullback Bobby Epps carried the ball 10 times for 169 yards, an average of 16.9 yards per carry. Fabian Jackson threw four passes and completed three for 80 yards, an average of 20 yards per attempt.

Six Trojan players start both ways for this splendid Trojan football team. Fabian Jackson, the Trojan QB, leads an offense which, week in and week out, puts up championship numbers; he is also a terrific free safety on the very best defense in Hall County. Hunter and Dylon Wolf make headlines each week on offense. They are also both starting linebackers, and play in and play out they run from sideline to sideline and are a part of that swarm which overwhelms opponents’ running games. Seth Hewell, the Trojans dominating left offensive tackle, moves inside on defense and makes the Trojan defense very difficult to run against. Spilt end Beau Dehass, who has five receptions on offense, moves over and plays cornerback on defense where he has 29 tackles and 1 interception.

And let me add a seventh player who plays both ways much of the time — Epps. He makes a major contribution at the linebacker position.

The Trojans’ final two games will be on the road. Tomorrow night they play East Hall and then finish up the regular season against the very good Chestatee team in what could be one of the Trojans’ toughest tests of the regular season.

2. Flowery Branch (7-1)

Average Points Scored 35.13: Average Points Allowed 14.63: Power Rating 2.40

Flowery Branch dominated Pickens last Friday night, clearly putting up championship numbers in every category.

Running, the Falcons averaged an overwhelming 9.47 yards per carry on 34 attempts. Meanwhile their defense allowed only 3.15 per rushing attempt on 35 carries. Jaybo Shaw completed 62 percent of his pass attempts to four different receivers with an average 13.15 yards per pass attempt. Those are championship numbers.

The Flowrey Branch defense, which shut out Pickens, held the Dragons passing game to 4.63 yards per pass attempt. The defense also intercepted one pass and recovered one fumble, while the Falcon offense had no turnovers.

The Falcons play two South Hall rivals in the next two weeks to finish the regular season. Johnson High School plays at ‘The Branch’ tomorrow night. They are improved and fundamentally sound, they play with great intensity, and have proven under coach Paul Friel that they can pull off the big upset. It should be a great contest.

The following week Flowery Branch finishes the season against West Hall, which has made good progress this season under new coach Mike Newton.

3. Chestatee (6-2)

Average Points Scored 35.13: Average Points Allowed 23.38: Power Rating 1.50

Playing without Ethan Souther, their fine option quarterback, the War Eagles defeated Gilmer in Ellijay, 33-25.

Jo Jo Sweet continues to show why he is one of North Georgia’s top rushing threats, carrying the football 27 times for 153 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Ben Souther, the War Eagles’ other fine running back averaged 10.71 yards per carry. Freshman QB Scott Chewning hit Justin Buyers for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the first half and Spencer Gruenefelder had five receptions for 51 yards.

Chestatee plays a pretty good Lumpkin County (4-3) team up in Dahlonega tomorrow night and then finishes the season in the big North Hall rivalry game against the Trojans to finish the regular season.

4. Gainesville (5-3-0)

Average Points Scored 44.13: Average Points Allowed 26.50: Power Rating 1.67

Gainesville won a hard-fought game against Johnson last Friday night, 34-18. Gainesville was leading 20-12 at halftime. Justin Fordham had thrown two TD passes — a 29-yard pass to sophomore Nick Johnson and a 69-yard TD pass to Tyler Adetona, plus Fordham had a 4-yard TD run.

Johnson’s fine sophomore QB, Anthony Prophet, had two big runs on QB keep plays, both for more than 50 yards. One went for a touchdown and the other set up a 4-yard TD touchdown run by freshman Mantevius Rucker. Johnson played great run defense the whole game holding the Red Elephants to 14 yards in 14 rushing attempts. Gainesville’s passing game and halftime adjustments on defense led to the margin of victory.

Justin Fordham completed 82 percent of his passes and averaged 10.75 yards per pass attempt. Gerald Ford led the way among the Gainesville receivers catching nine passes for 122 yards and Adetona caught 5 passes for 88 yards. Blaine Martin had three catches for 25 yards and Nick Johnson added a first half TD reception.

Gainesville’s defensive staff made some fine halftime adjustments.

No. 1, they completely took the keeper play away from Johnson’s fine QB. No. 2, they alternated Justin Fordham and Kendrick Harris at free safety, which made it almost impossible for the Knights to break the big one. When the game was over both teams had almost identical total yardage; Johnson had 304 total yards and Gainesville had 302 total yards.

Gainesville finishes the regular season tomorrow night with a very important subregion game against West Hall. Scheduling did not benefit the Red Elephants this year, their open date comes in the last week of the regular season. I know as a coach you would like that date in the middle of the season and just prior to playing one of your big games.

5. Johnson (3-5)

Average Points Scored 20.71: Average Points Allowed 22.71: Power Rating 0.91

Last Friday night in a very good football game, Johnson actually had two more yards of total offense than Gainesville, in spite of the fact they lost the game.

Where did the Knights fall short? First, they lost two fumbles and the Red Elephants had a significantly better punting game, averaging 11 more yards per punt as both teams punted the ball five times.

Let’s look at the good things the Knights did last Friday night.

They held the Gainesville running game to an average of 1 yard per carry on 14 carries, with Kendrick Harris carrying the ball nine times. That’s quite a feat; nobody in the 2007 season has done better.

Second, Johnson averaged 5.81 yards per carry running the football and sophomore Anthony Prophet showed that he has exceptional running skills, as well as breakaway speed. Trey Dudley carried the ball only once, on a counter play from the slotback position that went for 34 yards.

Areas where the Knights need better production include the passing game. They completed only 41 percent of their passes and averaged only 5 yards per pass attempt. Seth Evans, who is a workhorse and runs very hard, was held to 3 yards per carry. I think we can credit that to the fine play of the Gainesville front seven on defense.

I like this football team and they are getting good production from some underclassmen, which shows real promise for the future.

The Knights travel south five miles to play Flowery Branch tomorrow night and finish the season at home in another week against Pickens.

6. West Hall (2-6)

Average Points Scored 18.00: Average Points Allowed 26.00: Power Rating 0.69

Coming off an open date, West Hall plays host to Gainesville tomorrow night in what I expect to be a very competitive contest.

7. East Hall (0-8)

Average Points Scored 7.86: Average Points Allowed 44.43: Power Rating 0.18

This young football team played a pretty good game against White County up in Cleveland last Friday night but lost, 28-7. Tomorrow night they play host to North Hall, then finish the season next week in Ellijay against Gilmer.

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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