The 55-12 loss to Gainesville is in the rearview mirror; the 35-7 defeat Buford handed them is all but a distant memory, because now the North Hall Trojans find themselves in a familiar position: in the driver’s seat of Region 7A-AAA.
Some questioned whether this would be the year that the Trojans (3-2, 2-0) would relinquish their subregion supremacy and allow another team like Creekview, which started the year with two wins over ranked opponents, or White County, which only lost to top-ranked Gainesville in the first five weeks, to step in and play at home in the playoffs.
Not so fast Warriors and Grizzlies.
With North Hall’s 38-0 win over White County on Friday, the Trojans have now dispatched those two subregion title hopefuls in back-to-back weeks and although they still have three more subregion contests left, it appears that North Hall will be playing the first round of the playoffs in the Brickyard.
That could all change if Chestatee (3-2, 2-0), Lumpkin County (2-3, 0-2) or a surprising Gilmer (4-1, 2-0) team can take out the Trojans. But with North Hall riding a 17-game subregion winning streak, that task is seemingly impossible.
IF THE TROJANS ARE NO. 1, WHO IS NO. 2?: The first six weeks of the season are now in the books and four teams not named North Hall have a chance to grab the final playoff spot in Region 7-AAA (it’s all but a given that Gainesville and Flowery Branch are in). Chestatee, Creekview, White County and Gilmer are all 1-1 or better in subregion play, with the War Eagles and Bobcats starting 2-0 in Region 7A-AAA.
The fight for the second spot should get clearer this week, as White County plays host to Creekview and Chestatee visits Ellijay to take on a Bobcats team that has already won four more games than they did all of last year.
White County will try and get revenge on a Creekview team that kept it out of the playoffs last year when the Warriors lost 33-0. Chestatee has a five-game winning streak against Gilmer, and beat the Bobcats 57-0 in 2008.
CONTENDER OR PRETENDER: Here’s what we know about Region 8-AA: Jefferson is a great team, North Oconee is a great team and East Jackson appears to be a great team.
After those three? Who knows.
All of the aforementioned teams are undefeated and poised to reach the playoffs, but six teams are still “alive” in terms of postseason aspirations. Fannin County, Union County, Banks County and Riverside Military are all 2-3 in the region and Oglethorpe County and Dawson County are 1-4.
The entire region is off this week, and those six teams are going to need it because they each face at least two other playoff hopefuls in the final four weeks; meaning that the final postseason spot might not be determined until all the games are finished on Nov. 6.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER: Although top-ranked Gainesville and Flowery Branch don’t play until Nov. 6, it appears that the two teams are already having a contest.
For every team Gainesville (6-0, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) beats, the Falcons (5-1, 2-0) score more points on them when they face that team.
The Red Elephants put up 34 points on Chestatee in Week 1, the Falcons hung 48 on the War Eagles three weeks later. Gainesville beat West Hall 56-13, Flowery Branch beat the Spartans 62-14.
What does all that mean? Probably nothing, unless of course you’re one of the remaining teams on either team’s schedule.
WEEK 6 HIGHLIGHTS: Flowery Branch QB Connor Shaw is on fire. The senior completed 10 of 12 passes Friday for 174 yards and three touchdowns to up his season total to 1,201 yards passing with 14 touchdowns. Oh yeah, he’s also completing 77 percent of his passes. ... West Forsyth’s Ben Emert is a legit Division I running back, but he learned last night that Gainesville’s defense is tough to run on. Emert, who rushed for 10 yards on 15 attempts, can add his name to the list of top running backs that the Red Elephants have shut down. ... Chestatee running back Ben Souther is also on that list, but the senior has more than made up for his poor Week 1. Since Gainesville limited him to 23 yards on 14 carries, Souther, who had 127 yards on 25 carries Friday against Lumpkin County, has rushed for 125 or more yards in four straight games and has scored nine touchdowns.