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At the end of Week 4 Gainesville, Hall County’s best team in my opinion, seem to be improving each week.

North Hall, who came to Bobby Gruhn Field well prepared with a solid game plan, just couldn’t match the talented, well-prepared and equally well-motivated Red Elephants.

All coaches, if they have coached long enough, have been the victims of over confidence, which is what Bruce Miller and his fine football team need to fight as they will be heavily favored the rest of the 2009 season.

It’s easy to believe what you read in the newspapers and forget how very difficult and demanding the game of football is. Flowery Branch, as I knew it would, bounced back last Friday night after a disappointing loss to Creekview.

Chestatee was on the receiving end of a wounded and very determined, as well as talented football team. North Hall will be refocusing itself in the subregion this week and the Trojans have a legitimate shot for a place in the playoffs.

1. GAINESVILLE (4-0): Average points scored 43, average points allowed 8, Power Rating 5.35. Last Friday night when I went to Bobby Gruhn Field I was hoping for a close game but had a difficult time figuring out how North Hall, a very tough and disciplined football team, could match up with what I knew was superior talent.

Gainesville’s offense spreads you out playing with four or sometimes five receivers, and they make you play an open-field game. Blake Sims is able to consistently deliver the football where his superior athletes are, in an open-field situation where they have all the advantages.

North Hall, who has a very physical offensive line was able to average 5 yards per carry on 49 carries, against one of the states best defenses, but that was not where the game was to be won or lost.

This game was won in the open field.

Blake Sims and his fine receivers led by Tai-ler Jones averaged an incredible 16.5 yards per pass attempt.

Gainesville’s offense showed perfect balance running the ball 21 times while passing 22 times. Ask any defensive coach who is looking for a tendency he can take advantage of, that kind of balance is tough to coach against.

Nobody I have seen this year is playing defense better than these Red Elephants.

I like the 3-4 scheme they play, the aggressive “take-no-prisoner’s” attitude and their incredible overall team speed.

I am going to mention four players who are almost always around the football: linebackers A. J. Johnson, Alberto Sanabria, Thomas Sprague and free safety Daunte Carr, but I promise you that all eleven will chase you from sideline to sideline play after play after play.

2. FLOWERY BRANCH (3-1): Average points scored 39, average points allowed 16.25, Power Rating 2.4. The Falcons play a very balanced and almost flawless offense. Like Gainesville, they run out of a spread formation, but their running game is an option game.

Last Friday night, in a game they dominated winning 48-12, they ran the ball 29 times and passed the ball 18.

In a closer more competitive game, my guess is you will see a more even ratio between run or pass.

Flowery Branch’s offense completely dominated the War Eagles defense in all phases of the game, averaging better than 6 yards per carry on 29 rushing attempts and 11.67 yards per pass on 18 attempts while throwing no interceptions and having no fumbles.

Chestatee was able to run the ball 51 times averaging 4.9 per rush. In the pre-spread formation era in high school football, that number would have been a winning one.

The Flowery Branch pass defense held Chestatee to 3 yards per pass attempt, when it takes an average 8 yards per pass attempt on average to win — that is pretty good pass defense for the Falcons.

The Falcons have solid special teams and in the games I have seen it has been a decisive edge, allowing them to play on a shorter field than their opponent.

Friday night they play an improving Johnson team which is coming off of its first win.

3. NORTH HALL (1-2): Average points scored 13, average points allowed 31, Power Rating 0.42. The Trojans are coming off a disappointing loss to Gainesville, but they face two very tough and competitive sub region games in the next two weeks.

In a game that North Hall was beaten badly on the scoreboard, they have a number of players who played pretty good football. From my view in the press box, it looks like the Trojans fine offensive line was holding their own.

When you can average 5 yards per run against one of the best defenses in Georgia high school football you have some big men up front controlling the line of scrimmage and winning more than their share of the one-on-one battles.

I thought that North Hall used its unbalanced line effectively when it ran play action into the short side and Ben Booth slipped behind the defense uncovered for a touchdown.

North Hall’s run defense was able to hold the Gainesville running game to under 4 yards per carry. Physically this was a closer game than the final score indicated. Early in the game, playing with good field position, North Hall fumbled the ball which was scooped up by Gainesville’s Tai-ler Jones who ran 47 yards for a touchdown.

North Hall had one other fumble and one intercepted pass, these were drive killers which kept the Trojans from getting the momentum they needed to upset their bigest rival.

North Hall had nine penalties, many of which killed drives and prevented the Trojans from keeping the game close. Friday night North Hall travels to Creekview to play its first subregion game.

As a fan, it’s a game that should be interesting and well worth the drive.

4. CHESTATEE (1-2): Average points scored 11.33, average points allowed 31.33, Power Rating 0.36. Last Friday night the War Eagles defense was dominated by a very effective and balanced offense.

When a defense allows over 6 yards per rush and over 11 yards per pass attempt and forces no turnovers it is almost impossible to win.

Chestatee’s offense was effective running the football, averaging almost 5 yards per carry on 51 rushing attempts.

Chestatee’s pass offense has not been much of a threat this season and they were not again against Flowery Branch as they averaged a little over 3 yards per pass attempt.

With the exception of the opening game against Gainesville, these War Eagles have mounted a strong running game.

The next three weeks Chestatee plays three very winnable games. The War Eagles need these three wins to develop the momentum and confidence it is going to take to play and defeat White County, North Hall and Creekview — their three strongest opponents in the subregion and the last three games of the regular season.

It’s Pickens at home Friday night, a game an improving Chestatee team should win.

5. JOHNSON (1-3): Average points scored 6.25, Average points Allowed 17.5, Power Rating 0.36. Last Friday the Knights got their first win shutting out Pickens 10-0.

Tevin Arthur scored on a 22-yard, first-quarter run and Mantevius Rucker led the Knights in rushing for the night averaging 3.4 yards per carry on 22 carries.

E. J. Johnson and Caleb Jackson led a fine defensive effort which allowed the Knights to pitch a shutout. Friday night Johnson plays host to rival Flowery Branch.

6. WEST HALL (0-4): Average points scored 18, Average points Allowed 38.5, Power Rating 0.47. Last Friday night White County showed West Hall and the North Georgia fans why it should be in the thick of it when it comes to fighting for one of the playoff spots at the end of the season.

The Warriors defense did the best job that anybody has done this season stopping Shunquez Stephens — the Spartans fine quarterback — and their formidable passing game.

The White County defense held the Spartans offense to a year low of 7 points and only 157 yards passing.

White County’s offense was able to run up 36 points on the Spartans defense.

White County’s only loss so far this year was to Gainesville, which will be the Spartans opponent Friday night in a game to be played at West Hall.

7. EAST HALL (0-4): Average points scored 4.75, Average points Allowed 22.5, Power Rating 0.21. The Vikings lost last Friday night to Gilmer 26-12.

East Hall was hurt by the fact that it fumbled five times and threw one interception — the Vikings didn’t lose any of the five fumbles, but those are drive killers, because often it ends up being a running play with no gain or a loss.

East Hall is not putting up the kind of offensive numbers they need to to be competitive, averaging less than 2 yards per rush and only 4.5 yards per pass attempt.

The Vikings defense, which had an off night, has played pretty well all season.

Check their points allowed against the other Hall County teams — with the exception of Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Johnson — they are playing defense as good or better than anybody else. Friday night they are at West Forsyth which is coming off a loss to Creekview.

Chuck Clausen is a Hall County resident who coached high school, college and professional football for 28 years. His Power Ratings column appears each Thursday during high school football season.

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