If you catch North Hall coach Bob Christmas giving a little fist pump on the sideline of Friday’s game against Lumpkin County, it may have absolutely nothing to do with what the Trojans are doing on the field.
Christmas, and the entire North Hall fan base for that matter, may all be giving a round of applause to news that Flowery Branch is beating Gainesville.
“Absolutely, buddy,” Christmas said, when asked about the prospects of cheering for a rival school.
You see, North Hall (7-2, 5-0 Region 7A-AAA) is going to be equally as concerned about what is going on in South Hall, with Gainesville (9-0, 4-0) and Flowery Branch (7-2, 4-0) going head-to-head at Falcons Field, as their own game at The Brickyard. The Trojans already have their subregion title locked up as a result of last Friday’s win against Gilmer.
Despite two losses earlier in the season, the Trojans are still a contender for the Region 7-AAA title. Why? Well, they don’t lose in the subregion. Ever.
Of course, if Gainesville wins, then there’s no argument among anyone who the region champion is. The No. 1-ranked Red Elephants would then have a perfect 10-0 regular season and sail into the playoffs as the top seed. And the Red Elephants would have earned it at that point. They’ve been the most dominant program in all of Northeast Georgia this season.
However, a poorly constructed subregion system doesn’t have a component to factor in which program is best when crowning a region champion. The Trojans’ road to winning the region title is easy if Flowery Branch also emerges as a subregion champion. North Hall has a head-to-head win over Flowery Branch, and presto, the Trojans will have earned their four region title since 2004.
The playoff spots in this region have almost completely been hammered out. In the North, it is North Hall and Creekview, with an outside shot of Chestatee sneaking in as well. Gainesville and Flowery Branch are definitely the region’s playoff qualifiers from the south side.
However, the conundrum with playoff seedings all hinges on the winner of the Gainesville and Flowery Branch game. If Gainesville wins, the seeding is as follows: No. 1 Gainesville, No. 2 North Hall, No. 3 Creekview and No. 4 Flowery Branch. If Flowery Branch wins, then it goes like this: No. 1 North Hall, No. 2 Flowery Branch, and Gainesville and Creekview would go down to a tie-breaker to see which team becomes No. 3.
Whether or not you like the subdivided system of play for football in Region 7-AAA, you have to admit that it makes for fun action for fans to see at the end of the season.
Games in Week 11 of the season can send a team into ownership of the region title, where just the previous week they may have been planning on gassing up the buses for a first-round road playoff game.
Likewise, a team with a shot at the region title could have a slip up and enter the playoffs with one loss and still have to travel to open the postseason.
As far as I’ve been able to tell, there isn’t a lot of love shared between the North Hall, Gainesville and Flowery Branch communities. However, that all goes out the window when ambition for a region title is on the line.