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Football: Power Ratings
Top two set, but Nos. 3 and 4 murky
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At the end of Week 10 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 and 4) opponents win/loss percentage.

Head-to-head competition from now on will trump the power numbers if most of the other factors are pretty close. North Hall is at this time unquestionably No. 1, Flowery Branch is unquestionably No. 2, however, No. 3 and No. 4 are a little murky. Chestatee, on the night they played Gainesville, was clearly the better team. But, on almost every other night, looking at comparative scores, Gainesville appears to have a slight edge. Tomorrow night, No. 1 North Hall plays Chestatee at War Eagles Stadium. On Sept. 28th, North Hall beat Gainesville at Gainesville 41-22. I will be at the North Hall – Chestatee game tomorrow night. I want to compare what I see at Chestatee tomorrow night against what I saw at Gainesville that night.

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. However, last Friday night I watched Stephens County beat Hart County. Hart County is the likely opponent for the No. 1 seed in Region 7-AAA in the second round of the playoffs.

After studying football stats for 15 seasons in the National Football League and eight seasons at Ohio State and William & Mary, we found some stats were more important than others.

1. North Hall (9-0)

Average Points 51.44: Average Points Allowed 9.89: Power Rating 5.79

Last Friday night, at East Hall, the Trojans had 486 yards of total offense as they scored 73 points. The North Hall ball carriers averaged 8.84 yards per carry on 37 rushing attempts. Fabian Jackson was 5-of-8 passing for 159 yards, an average of 19.88 yards per pass attempt. Through nine games, the Trojans had eight different players who carried the ball at least 11 times, and averaged better than 7 yards per carry. Four Trojans averaged better than 10 yards per carry, Hunter Wolf had 97 carries and averaged 10.2 per carry, Dylon Wolf, running from the wing back position, carried the ball 27 times and averaged an incredible 13.6 yards per carry. Robert Humphrey added 17 carries and averaged 10.4 per carry. Tyler Browning had 11 carries and averaged 12.5 per carry. At the end of nine games Fabian Jackson averaged 15.89 per pass attempt, while throwing 47 passes. Bobby Epps, Dylon Wolf and Andrew Peck each caught seven passes. Epps and Dylon Wolf each scored on three touchdown passes. Senior Jackson Griffeth led the county’s number one defense in almost every category - 91 total tackles, nine tackles for a loss and five sacks. Dylon Wolf has 60 tackles, sophomore Thomas Sprague has 59 tackles, Colin Alford has 45 tackles and Bobby Epps, the senior fullback added 42 tackles. Quarterback/safety Fabian Jackson has 41 tackles from his free safety position. Hall County’s best football team finishes up tomorrow night at Chestatee, against a very competitive War Eagle football team who is still fighting for a playoff spot.

2. Flowery Branch (8-1-0)

Average Points Scored 35.89: Average Points Allowed 14.44: Power Rating 2.48

Primarily, because of a superior pass offense, Flowery Branch dominated South Hall rival Johnson 42-13. Held to 2.63 yards per rush, Flowery Branch leaned heavily on their Jaybo Shaw led passing game. Shaw averaged 15.62 yards per pass attempt on 21 passes. Shaw completed 76 percent of his passes to five different receivers for four touchdowns. Connor Shaw was Jaybo’s "go-to guy" catching five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Tracy Sykes caught 5 passes, three for touchdowns. The Branch defense had almost total control of the Knight offense; they held Johnson to 2.8 yards per rushing attempt, and the Knights’ passing game to 4.73 per pass attempt. The Falcon defense forced four fumbles and recovered three of them, winning the turnover battle. Flowery Branch has the best balanced offense of the teams in Hall County. They are well prepared to pass if their opponent is lined up to defense the run, and are equally well prepared to run at the defense’s weakness if they are lined up to defense the pass. The Branch’s defense plays with great discipline and intensity. In 2007, this is clearly Hall County’s second best team. It looks like Flowery Branch will enter the playoffs playing a No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAA. The Branch finishes up the 2007 regular season at West Hall tomorrow night.

3. Chestatee (7-2-0)

Average Points Scored 33.89: Average Points Allowed 23.22: Power Rating 1.46

Only North Hall and Flowery Branch have put up championship defensive numbers week in and week out. Chestatee has had some good defensive games, but the points allowed number needs to be below 15 points a game in order to compete among the elite. The War Eagles consistently play at or near a championship level on offense, however, their tendency to turn the ball over puts considerable pressure on the defense and puts their high-powered offense on the bench a little too much. Chestatee beat Lumkin County 24-22 this past Friday night in Dahlonega. Jo Jo Sweet and Ben Souther both had big games. Sweet rushed for 201 yards and averaged 6.7 per rushing attempt. Souther carried the ball only 11 times but rushed for 147 yards and averaged 13.4 yards per attempt. The Chestatee passing game only averaged 2.2 yards per pass attempt. Lumpkin County was able to average 7.72 yards per run as the War Eagle defense never seemed to gain control of the Indians running game. The Indians were never able to generate much of a passing attack. They threw the ball 11 times and averaged only 3.82 yards per attempt. You can bet when the War Eagles play host to North Hall tomorrow night they will be fighting for a playoff spot.

4. Gainesville (7-3-0)

Average Points Scored 43.67: Average Points Allowed 25.11: Power Rating 1.74

Last Friday night, Kendrick Harris had a big night running the football 14 times for 147 yards and averaged 10.5 yards per carry. This occurred while the Gainesville pass offense was putting up record setting numbers against the Spartans. The Red Elephants passed for 390 yards and Justin Fordham averaged 9.07 yards on 43 pass attempts with no interceptions. The Spartans found it impossible to cover Gerald Ford who caught 13 passes for 213 yards. I don’t ever remember a Hall County receiver having that kind of night. Fordham still had completions to five other receivers for 177 yards. The Gainesville defense yielded 6.14 yards per run against West Hall’s rushing offense, which was led by the Spartans junior running back Marquise Stephens. This win meant a playoff birth and the Spartans played the Red Elephants at their best. The Red Elephants have had four sophomores starting in their offensive line and two freshman who have started a good part of the season on defense. Gainesville has four terrific senior role models in Kendrick Harris, Justin Fordham, Tyler Adetona and Gerald Ford. It looks to me, at this point, like the Red Elephants will play at Westminster in the first round of the playoffs.

5. Johnson (3-6-0)

Average Points Scored 17.56: Average Points Allowed 22.33: Power Rating 0.79

The Knights lost last Friday night to a very good Flowery Branch team. In spite of playing excellent run defense, holding the Branch running game to 2.63 yards per carry, they could not overcome the three turnovers and Jaybo Shaw and his excellent group of pass receivers. The Branch’s smothering defense was just too much for this relatively young football team. Johnson was only able to average 2.8 yards per carry running the football. Together Bobby Wirsing and Anthony Prophet were able to complete 6 of 11 passes for 136 yards and average a very respectable 12.36 yards per attempt. Johnson plays host to Pickens tomorrow night in an attempt to finish the season 4-6.

6. West Hall (2-7-0)

Average Points Scored 17.56: Average Points Allowed 27.56: Power Rating 0.64

West Hall had a tough night Friday night against Gainesville. I personally believe they caught the Red Elephants at the very top of their game. Knowing they needed a win to cinch a playoff berth, Gainesville came to West Hall with a bunch of fine players and a great game plan. This is a pretty good West Hall football team, but they are a year away from competing at or near the top of the region.

What can you say about any high school running back and his offensive line when he runs like Marquise Stephens did against Gainesville. He carried the ball 16 times, this fine junior running back ran for 202 yards and averaged 12.63 yards per carry. West Hall finishes their season against South Hall rival, Flowery Branch, tomorrow night.

7. East Hall (0-9-0)

Average Points Scored 8.33: Average Points Allowed 44.43: Power Rating 0.20

The East Hall Vikings were dominated last Friday night by the Trojans, 73-20. They joined the long list of teams that have not been able to stay competitive with the Trojans during four quarters of football. Tomorrow night, the Vikings travel to Ellijay to play against a very beatable Gilmer football team.

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