Tail-ler Jones didn’t just have a breakout performance at wide receiver for Gainesville in its 55-12 win against North Hall on Friday night, but he also set a new school record. Jones, a Stanford University commit, caught 10 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair of scores in the first six minutes, to establish a new single-game mark for the top-ranked Red Elephants (4-0).
Jones’ 239 yards breaks the previous record of 203 yards by Gerald Ford set in 2007. The 239-yard receiving night for Gainesville’s receiver was more than he put together in the first three games of the season combined (199 yards).
Gainesville High coach Bruce Miller wouldn’t think of naming Tyson Smith his starting quarterback; Blake Sims is doing quite well in that roll for the Red Elephants.
That doesn’t mean the Red Elephants coach doesn’t like the results when Smith, a running back, gets a turn throwing the ball. All three of Smith’s passes this season have gone for touchdowns, including a 90-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown throw to running back Teryan Rucker in the win over North Hall. For the season, Smith has 264 yards passing.
To put that number into context, Smith’s college passer rating — which takes into account passes, completions, yardage and touchdowns — is a staggering 1,169.2. The all-time record by a college quarterback is a 197.4 by Division III Mount Union College’s Greg Micheli.
Despite the lopsided outcome, North Hall (1-2) managed to run the ball like no other team against Gainesville this season. The Trojans managed to rush 49 times for 247 yards, including a touchdown run by senior Robert Humphrey, who finished with 57 yards rushing. During the first three games, the Red Elephants’ defense was allowing only 89 yards per game on the ground. North Hall quarterback Nathan Jones almost equaled that total single handedly (85 yards).
Losing a leader
Johnson senior linebacker Gilberto Espinoza, who was a three-year starter, will miss the remainder of the season following an ACL tear that took place early in the season opener against North Hall. Despite the loss, the Knights (1-3) rebounded with a great defensive effort and 10-0 shutout of Pickens on Friday night. E.J. Wright and Caleb Jackson were the defensive leaders for the Knights.
Knights coach Paul Friel says that Espinoza is scheduled for surgery before the end of the month. Espinoza still plans on playing college football following graduation. "Obviously, it’s tough for the kid to not be able to play," Friel said. "But I reassured him we have plenty of highlight tapes to send out to schools.
"If he has to, he’ll go to camps to show he’s still able to play."
Finding an answer
White County’s defense did something no other defense has done all season: contain Shunquez Stephens. The Warriors (3-1) held West Hall’s quarterback to only 157 passing yards and no touchdown passes in a 36-7 win last Friday in Oakwood. Stephens had the Spartans’ (0-4) only touchdown against the Warriors with a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter. Through the first three games, Stephens was averaging 291 passing yards per outing.
White County’s defense made drastic improvement since allowing 388 yards of total offense in a 42-20 loss to top-ranked Gainesville on Sept. 11.
Getting even better
Jefferson’s offense in 2009 wasn’t supposed to put up the same numbers this year, following the graduation of big playmakers Zac Crosby and Tab Martin. Well, not only are the Dragons putting up the same amount of points per game, they’re actually better. Through four games this season, Jefferson (4-0, 3-0 Region 8-AA) is averaging 45.5 points per game, up almost 10 points per game from this point last season.
The reason for the offensive explosion is the work of backs Lucas Redd, Caleb Meek and J.J. Damons. Last Friday, Damons and Redd combined for six touchdowns in a 54-14 win at Oglethorpe County.