At the end of week 8 the Hall County football players have created the following power ratings. As the season goes on I take into consideration the following criteria: 1) Head to head competitions; 2) win/loss record; 3) ratio of points scored vs. points allowed; 4) opponents win/loss percentage.
Head-to-head competition from now on will trump the power numbers if most of the other factors are pretty close.
Each week, I look inside the stats of all teams, read newspaper accounts and talk to football people who have seen teams I have not seen yet, and I always see at least one game.
1. North Hall (7-0)
Average Points Scored 47.71: Average Points Allowed 7.00: Power Rating 6.82
Dominating in every way against Gilmer last Friday night, much of the game was played with back-ups and junior varsity players. The younger players who played much of the game, however continued to put up big numbers. The Trojan offense averaged 11.14 yards per carry in 36 rushing attempts, while their defense held the Bobcats to 2.45 yards per run on 29 rushing attempts. On offense, North Hall averaged a very strong 11.14 yards per pass attempt, while holding the Bobcats to 4.31 yards per pass attempt.
While many of the high school football teams have gone to the spread formation and shifted their emphasis to the pass, Trojans coach Bob Christmas has stayed with the Wing-T and is going to make you stop his high-powered running game. Fewer and fewer high school football players have had much experience defending the Wing-T, making it doubly difficult to prepare for playing against North Hall.
When most teams prepare for the Trojans, their scout teams are trying to simulate an offense which requires great timing. When they actually play North Hall on Friday night, they are playing against an offense which operates like a well-oiled machine, and they are having to fight off a strong and determined offensive line.
All dominating football teams have to fight complacency and often the Trojans are playing with a three- or four-touchdown lead. Eventually, these Trojans will play a game or maybe several games where they will be put in the unfamiliar situation where every play counts and the winner is not determined until late in the fourth quarter (or in overtime). That’s the game and the situation that this splendid North Hall team needs to be preparing for and it may happen any week.
2. Flowery Branch (6-1)
Average Points Scored 32.71: Average Points Allowed 16.71: Power Rating 1.96
The Falcons had last week off. Tomorrow night they play host to Pickens.
3. Chestatee (5-2)
Average Points Scored 35.43: Average Points Allowed 24.86: Power Rating 1.43
The War Eagles lost to a very good White County team last Friday. Statistically, Chestatee had an edge, but like in the War Eagles’ only previous loss to Flowery Branch, they lost the turnover battle. When any team throws four interceptions and loses three fumbles they are going to lose. If you check the upsets every week in all levels of football, it is turnovers which allowed the underdog to pull off a victory.
The War Eagles did a lot of good things last Friday. They ran the ball 48 times and averaged 6.35 yards per rush. Jo Jo Sweet had another dominating night carrying the ball 22 times for 175 yards and averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Ethan Souther had another solid night running, averaging 7.55 yards per carry on nine attempts.
The War Eagles defense had a solid night, holding the Warriors to 251 total yards and White County’s passing game to 4.67 yards per pass attempt. Gilmer and Lumpkin County, Chestatee’s next two opponents, know the War Eagles are beatable. They will both be putting gameplans together which might force turnovers.
Chestatee is a much improved football team, but a team which has learned a lesson all of us have learned at one time or another. We are not bulletproof. Correct the mistakes, move on, and don’t get beat the same way twice.
4. Gainesville (5-3)
Average Points Scored 39.98: Average Points Allowed 24.25: Power Rating 1.64
As Hall County’s second most productive offense, the Red Elephants put up awesome numbers last Friday night against Pickens. On the way to scoring 77 points, Justin Fordham completed 24 passes for 334 yards (13.92 yards per attempt). Gainesville completed passes to four different receivers, with Gerald Ford and Tyler Adetona catching six balls each. Kendrick Harris, Gainesville’s splendid running back caught two passes, while carry the ball 19 times for 124 yards and seven touchdowns.
The last couple of games Gainesville has added some quarterback running to the mix, which in my opinion, makes them more difficult to defend, because Fordham is a fine athlete. Fordham carried the ball last Friday five times and averaged 6 yards per carry. Gainesville’s defense gave up an average of 4.12 yards per rush to Pickens. With the Red Elephants’ offense you can win with that number, but they also allowed 8.21 yards per pass while intercepting two passes. The interceptions are good, but the 8.21 yards per pass attempt is a little high.
Gainesville has two winnable games left on their schedule, Johnson in Oakwood on Friday night, and then at West Hall in the last week of the regular season. In my opinion, neither of these wins will be easy, both of those teams are better than they were last year and both are improving and have improved each week during the 2007 season.
Johnson beat West Hall without starting quarterback Bobby Wirsing last Friday and won the game with a fine sophomore Anthony Prophet. Prophet scored two touchdowns running, but did not throw a pass.
5. Johnson (3-4)
Average Points Scored 18.14: Average Points Allowed 17.86: Power Rating 1.02
The Knights won a hard-fought victory against a tough West Hall team last Friday night. Three huge fourth quarter plays turned out to be the margin of victory. They occurred at a time when it looked like West Hall was about to gain momentum and take control of the game.
Play 1: West Hall had started to move the football when Johnson coach Paul Friel started to give them a heavy dose of blitzing. Gilbert Espinoza broke through from his linebacker position, stripped the West Hall quarterback of the football which Josh Owens picked up and took it for an 80-yard touchdown.
Play 2: With the game still very much in question, Seth Evans, the Johnson fullback, broke an off-tackle play for a 50-yard touchdown. Evans had been the workhorse all night and I am sure his play inspired his teammates.
Play 3: Under extremely intense pressure from the Johnson blitzing defense, West Hall’s very talented freshman quarterback was intercepted by Johnson’s strong safety Joey Wirsing, who took the ball up the sideline for an 86-yard touchdown. We saw this same kind of intensity and determination from the Knights last year, when they came to Gainesville and upset the Red Elephants.
The Gainesville-Johnson game tomorrow night should be four quarters of great football. There will be a lot on the line for both teams and both coaching staffs will have their teams ready.
6. West Hall (2-6)
Average Points Scored 18.00: Average Points Allowed 26.00: Power Rating 0.69
West Hall was 2-8 last year, but I promise you this year’s team is better. Tomorrow night, the Spartans have an open date, and then they play Gainesville and finish the season against Flowery Branch. Both will be home games for West Hall. This is clearly an improving football team with some tough football players.
Early in the season, I am not sure they could have played toe-to-toe with Gainesville and Flowery Branch. They have a first-year coach and the players were learning a new offense and a new defense.
Daniel Drummond is as good an all-around football player as anybody at his position in the county. A fullback on offense and a linebacker/defensive end on defense, he is strong, tough, has good speed and will hit you like a ton of bricks. Another junior is Marquise Stephens, the Spartan tailback who has been putting up impressive numbers all season long. He is fast, strong, has good balance, and is also a threat as a receiver.
The guy who I had been hearing about all season was Marquise’s younger brother, freshman quarterback Shunquez Stephens. For a freshman at his position, he is having a great year. He took some nicks last week against a Johnson defense which was designed to put maximum pressure on him. I was impressed with him from every respect, he is big (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), he is fast and athletic, he has a great arm, plus, like his brother, is mentally tough. I promise you, if he makes the kind of progress he should make over the next three years, the Spartan football fans are in for a treat.
Will Edge, a senior wide receiver, had a great game last Friday against Johnson. He caught eight passes for 107 yards and not all of them were easy catches. He can and will catch the hard ones.
Another defensive standout is Trey Malone. This senior linebacker is a big playmaker and a fine open-field tackler. Free safety Jake Copeland also stood out both on defense and on offense.
7. East Hall (0-7)
Average Points Scored 6.86: Average Points Allowed 40.43: Power Rating 0.17
The Vikings lost to Lumpkin County last Friday night 48-6. The East Hall touchdown was scored by Chris Duong when he hauled in a 25-yard pass from Desmon Gardner. Chris Ingram was the Vikings leading rusher. The freshman carried the ball four times for 34 yards and averaged 8.5 yards per carry.
Duong is a junior and Gardner is a sophomore and each is getting valuable experience. The Vikings travel to Cleveland tomorrow night to take on White County.
Chuck Clausen is a Hall County resident who coached high school, college and professional football for 28 years and who currently serves as an analyst for high school games on WDUN 550-AM. His opinion is not necessarily that of The Times.