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Murphy: Who's the area's 'top dog?'
Arugments can be made, but only time will tell
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Which school in Hall County has the ultimate football bragging rights these days? Is there a team in our backyard that can definitely say they’re the best locally based on a concrete argument?

This is a topic for discussion to toss around between the three football heavyweights in Hall County: Flowery Branch, Gainesville and North Hall.

Each school has a legitimate case to say it is the top dog. Of course, there may be no clear-cut answer until the current regular season ends, but it is interesting to point out the pros and cons to each school’s case.

First, let’s take Flowery Branch. The Falcons (5-1, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) can say they have the top status here at home since they played for the Class AAA state title last season, and are certainly in the running for the Region 7-AAA title this year. Those are pretty strong arguments on their behalf.

We’ll find out if they can win the region title the final week of the regular season against Gainesville (6-0, 2-0). However, one could also argue that the Falcons aren’t the top program in Hall County based on the fact that they lost to a wobbly Creekview team earlier this season. And it doesn’t appear that Flowery Branch has the pieces in place to make the state title game again this year.

Next, let’s take a look at Class AAA’s top-ranked Gainesville. Being voted the best team in your classification for the entire state is certainly a notch in the Red Elephants’ column. The Red Elephants have looked absolutely dominating this season, especially against teams that are playoff contenders like Chestatee (3-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA), North Hall (3-2, 2-0) and even West Forsyth (3-3, 1-1 Region 7B-AAA). Gainesville looked mighty imposing in its win on television last Friday night against the Wolverines, 34-0.

However, fans of Flowery Branch and North Hall could justly point to Gainesville’s lukewarm playoff performances as to why it isn’t the best program these days in Hall County. The Red Elephants last made the semifinals in 2002 but have since made the state quarterfinals twice since then (2005 and 2008). Good, not great.

Finally, take a look at North Hall’s track record in recent seasons. Trojans fans can say they’re the hottest football program in Hall County due to the fact that North Hall has never lost a subregion game. North Hall is a perfect 18-0 since Region 7-AAA found it necessary to subdivide before the 2006 season. That means even when the Trojans weren’t at their best, they still always found a way to win.

In this span, North Hall has four shutout wins in subregion play, including last Friday’s 38-0 win against White County (3-2, 0-1).

North Hall also has pretty strong staying power when it gets to the postseason. The Trojans haven’t been put out in the first round in the past five seasons, have three trips to the state quarterfinals since 2004, and made the state semifinals just two years ago.

From what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty safe bet that North Hall will win the subregion in 2009 yet again.

Of course, detractors for the Trojans can point to the fact that they haven’t exactly lit it up against teams outside the subregion. That’s a valid point since North Hall is a combined 0-5 against Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Buford since last season, with a game against the Falcons coming up Friday at The Brickyard.

Proof for fans of Flowery Branch and Gainesville that their side of the subregion is tougher.

Then again, North Hall didn’t get to pick which teams would be in its subregion.

It’s clear that all three schools have reason to say they have the shining program in Hall County. That’s why it’s a fun topic to throw around amongst friends.

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