In just two games, West Hall has already equalled their win total (2) from a year ago. If history is any indication of what lies ahead for the Spartans, then West Hall is in for a successful season.
In its 21-year history, West Hall has started 2-0 just nine times, but in four of those nine seasons, the team reached the playoffs, and only three times (in 1994, 1998 and 1999) did it finish with a losing record.
The last time the Spartans began a season 2-0 was in 2002, when the team started the year 7-0 and reached the first round of the state playoffs.
West Hall’s best finish after starting 2-0 was in 1990, when it ended the season with a 9-1 record.
The strong start already has some Spartans thinking playoffs.
“We’re working as hard as we can, and doing whatever we need to do to reach the playoffs,” senior running back Marquise Stephens said after the Spartans’ 21-3 win over Pickens on Friday. “We think we can get there.”
If history does in fact repeat itself, they will
One man scoring machine
While most people in the area were clamoring over the offensive performance of Buford in its 45-14 win over North Hall on Friday, Riverside Military Academy quarterback Julian Suber was putting on his own personal scoring show.
The senior quarterback scored four touchdowns in the Eagles’ 56-28 win over Banks County, all of them coming in different ways.
Not only did Suber throw and rush for a touchdown, but he returned a kickoff for a touchdown and was on the receiving end of a touchdown as well.
In total, he accounted for more than 250 yards of total offense, and single-handedly scored as many points as the Leopards.
Still, his four touchdowns were only half of the state record for most touchdowns scored in a game. Dan Calloway (Miller County in 1999) and Thomas Flowers (Pebblebrook High in 2001) both scored eight touchdowns in one game.
New kids on the block
In the first two weeks of the season it appears that Gainesville is the team to beat in Region 7-AAA, and while Flowery Branch, North Hall and White County will all be vying for a playoff berth, a team from outside the area appears to be poised to grab a playoff spot.
Newcomer West Forsyth has started the season 2-0, beating Class AAAAA North Forsyth 21-14 in Week 1, and then putting a 77-30 beatdown on Class AA Adairsville on Friday. With upcoming games against Pickens, Creekview and East Hall, the Wolverines could enter their Oct. 3 game with Gainesville with a 5-0 record.
Creekview, the other new team to the region, has also started the season strong. Despite an opening night 3-34 loss to Class AAAA Sequoyah on Friday, the team from Canton looks like they will certainly be a formidable opponent for the aforementioned playoff contenders.
Superstar signal callers
What do Gainesville’s Blake Sims, Flowery Branch’s Connor Shaw, Jefferson’s Darius Minor, Riverside’s Suber and West Hall’s Shunquez Stephens have in common? They all have started the season strong, and they all look like they are more than capable of leading their teams to the playoffs.
Sims, followed up his 291 yard passing, four-touchdown debut with another great game against Franklin County on Friday, passing for 239 yards and one touchdown, and rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
Shaw seems more than capable of replacing his brother Jaybo, as the junior quarterback has started the season completing 60 percent of his passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also getting it done with his legs, rushing for 200 yards and two touchdowns in two games.
Stephens, the youngest of the group, is off to a hot start as well, throwing for four touchdowns in the Spartans’ opener, and one more in Friday’s win against Pickens. In two games, the sophomore has thrown for more than 500 yards and has five touchdowns, including one remarkable one that won the game for West Hall in Week 1.
While those three — along with Suber, who has rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns in two games — have had great starts, the most remarkable start may be that of Jefferson’s Minor, who up until this year had played exactly zero games of varsity football. That’s hard to believe, seeing the junior started the year 29-for-41 (70-percent) for 248 yards in the air, and an additional 210 yards rushing.