Until last Friday night I had been holding out hope that Hall County would produce all four of the state qualifiers from Region 7-AAA. I was pretty sure we had three out of the four best teams, and I thought that an improving Chestatee team had an outside shot at the fourth spot.
On the field through Week 8, Gainesville, North Hall and Flowery Branch have proven that they are good enough to go outside this region and win some games. As a matter of fact, at their best any of the three could be competitive against the best Class AAA teams in Georgia.
Creekview, a team from Canton, will most likely be one of the four seeds from 7-AAA. Just how good is Creekview? Well, to begin with they are 6-1 after seven games, they beat an excellent Flowery Branch team at Flowery Branch, 38-35. Creekview’s only loss came against North Hall, 45-21. I was there and the Trojans dominated.
Creekview will be favored in its last three games of the season against Pickens, Lumpkin County and Chestatee. If Creekview were in Hall County it would have the third best power rating (1.73), better than North Hall the team which beat it and not as good as either Flowery Branch or Gainesville.
It looks to me like in Hall County we have three quarterbacks who have Division-I talent. All three have excellent passing ratings according to the formula used by the NFL to rate quarterbacks. The rating of the three are as follows: Conner Shaw, Flowery Branch, 142.2; Blake Sims, Gainesville, 123.5; and Shunquez Stephens, West Hall, 99.9. These three guys are all splendid athletes, talented passers and show a toughness in their play which will be required at the next level.
1. GAINESVILLE (7-0): Average points scored 46.4, average points allowed 6.4, Power Rating 7.22. The team with the best offense, and by far the best defensive numbers had an open date last Friday. Friday night the Red Elephants travel to Ellijay to play the Gilmer Bobcats (4-3).
2. NORTH HALL (5-2): Average points scored 28.3, average points allowed 21.1, Power Rating 1.34. Last Friday night the Trojans defense totally dominated Pickens, allowing just 111 total yards and 16 yards passing.
The Trojan offense scored 39 points. The Trojans’ always-strong running game was led by Jordan Chaffin, who averaged 11 yards per carry on nine carries, and Peyton Wilhoite who averaged 7.1 yards on six carries.
Starting quarterback Nathan Jones completed 3 of 5 passes for 75 yards for an average of 15 yards per attempt, while sophomore Kanler Coker, who had played some against Flowery Branch the week before, was 6 of 8 for 108 yards — an average of 13.5 per attempt. It looks like the Trojans have two QBs who can help keep the defenses honest if they want to load the box to stop North Hall’s very potent running game. The personality of the Trojans is toughness. They win by controlling the line of scrimmage, beating you one down at a time. In today’s football, defenses can load up the box and out number you in the running game. But as good as the Trojans running game is, sometimes that’s not enough.
When it’s playoff time, you need enough of a passing game that can make the opponent pay the price for the extra run defender.
North Hall makes the short trip to Chestatee on Friday night for a big rivalry game and an important subregion contest.
3. FLOWERY BRANCH (6-2): Average points scored 44, average points allowed 18.6, Power Rating 2.36. The Falcons beat a young and inexperienced East Hall team 69-16 last Friday night, putting up dominating stats on offense.
Flowery Branch averaged 5.2 yards per carry on 38 rushing attempts and averaged a very impressive 12.1 yards per pass attempt. The Falcons jumped out to a commanding lead, letting many of their younger players finish much of the second half.
Shaw was 10 of 15 through the air for 189 yards, and his backup, Logan Conley, completed 2 of 4 attempts for 40 yards. Shaw had another great night running the football, averaging 7.5 yards per carry on 14 attempts. The Flowery Branch defense allowed 5.2 per rushing attempt, but much of that yardage came late in the game against some of the younger Falcon defenders. The defense allowed only one pass completion in six attempts for 14 yards, an average of 2.3 yards per pass attempt.
Friday night the Falcons play at West Forsyth. West Forsyth is a strong running team which will challenge the Falcon run defense. This is an important subregion game for both teams as the winner takes the inside track to one of 7B-AAA’s two playoff spots.
4. CHESTATEE (4-3): Average points scored 19.4, average points allowed 21.9, Power Rating 0.89. Last Friday night the War Eagles lost to a good White County team.
The War Eagles lost six fumbles, which almost eliminated any chance to win the game. When a team turns the ball over five times they will lose more than 90 percent of the time. The average team suffers 2.3 turnovers per game.
Against a very strong defensive line, Chestatee was still able to average a very impressive 7 yards per carry. White County turned the ball over two times — one interception and one lost fumble. White County had a total of 279 yards, while the War Eagles had 290 total yards. An even game in many ways minus the White County turnover advantage.
Playing with a freshman quarterback, White County was able to put up winning numbers in the passing game. The Warriors completed 12 of 16 passes and averaged 8 yards per pass attempt. Chestatee was forced to play backup quarterbacks most of the game as starter Scott Chewning left the game early because of injury. Friday’s game is a huge rivalry as the War Eagles will host a strong and improving North Hall football team. This is a subregion game, and it is a must-win for the War Eagles if they want a shot at playoff football.
5. JOHNSON (2-6): Average points scored 13.1, Average points Allowed 29.8, Power Rating 0.44. Last Friday night the Knights could do little to control the very strong running game of West Forsyth. The Wolverines were able to average 11.1 yards per carry on 34 rushing attempts. The Knights played pretty good pass defense as they allowed only 5.1 yards per pass attempt.
The Johnson offense averaged 4.6 yards per rush and 5.1 yards per pass attempt.
The Knights host East Hall on Friday and finish their season the following Friday night against the Red Elephants.
6. WEST HALL (0-8): Average points scored 19.6, Average points Allowed 45.3, Power Rating 0.43. The West Hall Spartans lost to Lumpkin County last Friday, 41-13. The Indians did a pretty good job of playing pass defense against the West Hall fine passing game, they allowed the Spartans to complete only 46 percent of their passes with 6.6 yards per attempt.
On offense, the Indians were impressive against the West Hall defense. Lumpkin County was able to average 8.8 yards per run and 8.2 yards per pass attempt, both winning numbers.
The Spartans have Friday night off and then play the Vikings at East Hall.
7. EAST HALL (0-7): Average points scored 5.9, Average points Allowed 37.6, Power Rating 0.16. The Vikings were dominated last Friday night against a much more mature Flowery Branch football team. This week’s game against the Johnson Knights should be competitive, as East Hall plays at home. This is a big game for both young football teams.
Chuck Clausen is a Hall County resident who coached high school, college and professional football for 28 years. His Power Ratings column appears each Thursday during high school football season.