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Prep football: Trojans vying to stay No. 1, Chestatee looking for playoff spot
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The numbers North Hall has put up so far this season are incomparable.

The undefeated Trojans (9-0, 4-0 7A-AAA) are averaging 50.6 points per game, 447.1 yards per game and have scored more than 40 points in eight of their nine wins.

North Hall’s defense has held its opponents to single digits six times, including three shutouts to start the season, and is giving up an average of 8.7 points per game.

The mean team in green is beating its opponents by an average of 42 points.

But if North Hall loses at Chestatee (7-2, 3-1) tonight, the Region 7-AAA title, No. 1 seed and even home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs could slip away.

"That’s very strange," senior lineman Alex Tasich said. "We’ve been working our butts off this far and losing one game makes us No. 3. That’s what subregion does to you."

Because of the subregion split in 7-AAA, if the War Eagles pull off the upset of the No. 3-ranked team in Class AAA, and Lumpkin County beats White County tonight, North Hall would have to settle for the region’s No. 3 seed.

"It can be taken away real quick," senior Jackson Griffeth said.

Flowery Branch would win the region title and Chestatee would get the No. 2 seed and homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"I don’t think anyone likes the subregion deal," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. "If it were just one region, it would be a done deal right now. ... It’s not, so we’ve got to take care of business."

After a crippling loss to White County on Oct. 19, the War Eagles won two consecutive close games to stay in the playoff hunt.

A Chestatee win or a White County loss puts the War Eagles in the playoffs. If both happen, Chestatee takes the top spot in Region 7A-AAA.

"We mentioned the scenarios on the first of the week, and that’s the last we’ve talked about them," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "We are determined to play the best game that we can play and see what happens when the buzzer goes off."

With so much on the line, Christmas doesn’t plan on backing off the accelerator yet. In fact, he plans on putting the pedal on the floor.

"I can assure you, were not looking past Chestatee," Christmas said. "I told these guys to plan on playing four quarters from here on out."

In the Trojans past three games, which they won by a combined score of 197-35, the junior varsity saw more snaps than the starters.

Christmas wants to get his players used to a four-quarter game like North Hall will see in the playoffs. That starts with the War Eagles tonight.

"I’d like to play more," Tasich said. "From here on out, we expect to play 48 minutes."

There is not much to nit-pick about North Hall. At this point in the season, it is just fine-tuning.

"In all my years of coaching, this is the most complete team I’ve had," Christmas said.

In last week’s 73-20 win over East Hall, the Trojans had eight players score a touchdown. North Hall’s running game features four players that average more than 7 yards per carry.

Senior Hunter Wolf does most of the heavy lifting, averaging 10.2 per carry on 96 attempts, a team-high. Senior Bobby Epps scores the most points, leading the team with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Fabian Jackson has seven rushing touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns.

"I like that the whole team plays together as one," Tasich said. "As long as the team plays together as one, we can go far with that. If one person gets hurt, that’s fine. We can just put someone else in for him."

The same can be said for North Hall’s defense. Senior defense lineman Griffeth leads the team with 91 tackles and five sacks, but five other Trojans have more than 40 tackles and at least one sack.

"Right now, we are trying to perfect those little things," Griffeth said. "Coach always tells us to get better every week and I think we’ve done that."

If that is true, Chestatee is facing a North Hall team that is at its best.

For the War Eagles to keep this game within reach, they will have to be prepared both physically and mentally for the challenge the Trojans present.

"The only advantage we have is that we are playing in War Eagle Stadium," Luttrell said. "Every other advantage goes to them. ... It’s going to be the biggest game ever played in this stadium."

Chestatee’s offense will offer North Hall something it hasn’t seen this season: a split-back option attack.

Like the Trojans, the War Eagles get most of their yards on the ground and with a variety of players. Senior running back Jo Jo Sweet leads the team, and the county, with 1,344 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Quarterback Ethan Souther and running back Ben Souther are also capable rushing threats.

"Nobody has seen our offense until they play us," Luttrell said. "We do things that no one else does."

But the War Eagles will have to keep the ball in their hands to make that offense effective. Chestatee’s undoing in at least two games this year has been turnovers.

"We try after every game, whether its turnovers, missed tackles, missed assignments, to correct what we’ve done wrong," Ethan Souther said. "We spend more time on fundamentals, holding onto the ball, secure the ball."

Chestatee’s defense will have likely have a busy night in War Eagle Stadium against North Hall’s Wing-T attack. Junior linebacker Chase Vasser and senior defensive end Chris Howard lead the War Eagles defense.

Vasser leads the area in both tackles (125) and sacks (12) and Howard has 84 tackles (20 for a loss) and five sacks for the season.

Comparing numbers with North Hall, however, is a losing proposition this year. So far, the same can be said about playing the Trojans.

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