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Trojans maintain top spot in ratings
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At the end of Week 7, 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 and 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. This week, the power numbers like the teams in Hall County fairly represented the accomplishments so far at the end of seven weeks of competition.

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.

After studying football stats for 15 seasons in the National Football League and eight seasons at Ohio State and William Mary we found some stats were more important than others.

North Hall (6-0-0)

Average Points Scored 42.83: Average Points Allowed 7.17: Power Rating 5.98: This year’s Trojans are clearly the best football team in Hall County. So far through, six games no opponent has found a weakness they could exploit. This is a strong, physical football team which dominates the line of scrimmage whether on offense or defense. Last Friday night they started a little slow against White County and went in at half time with a 20-0 lead, but then came out in the third quarter and scored 22 points, putting the game completely out of reach. The Trojan running game averaged an awesome 9.77 yards per attempt as the Trojan "big men" set the tempo and controlled the game. The North Hall defense held the White County running game to just over 2 yards per run. The Trojan’s little used passing game was the only area where they put up unimpressive numbers. They completed only 28 percent of their passes and averaged only 3.14 yards per attempt as well as throwing two interceptions. The Trojan pass defense did put up winning numbers in spite of allowing one 39-yard pass for the Warriors’ only touchdown. They held the Warriors to 5.28 yards per pass attempt and had two interceptions. The key to this fine football team’s long term success is to keep getting better every week and not become too satisfied, and not taking anything for granted.

Flowery Branch (6-1-0)

Average Points Scored 32.71: Average Points Allowed 16.71: Power Rating 1.96: Wow, what a victory last Friday night. Trailing for almost the whole ball game, this Falcon football team fought their way back from, at one time, a 21-0 deficit. Gainesville played as good of pass defense against Flowery Branch as I have seen all year. This was the first time all year that Jaybo Shaw was held under 8 yards per pass attempt, Gainesville’s pass defense held him to 6.8 yards per attempt and intercepted one of his passes during a drive where the Falcons were driving for a touchdown. Towards the end of the second quarter Jaybo Shaw put his fine Falcon teammates on his shoulders and put on as good an effort running the football by a quarterback as you will ever see. Jaybo’s running not only displayed great elusiveness, but also "I will not be denied" determination. Inspired by their leader’s determination, each of Jaybo’s teammates started to turn it up another notch, and we started to see great effort. I don’t ever remember a quarterback who carried the ball 31 times for 235 yards, an average of 7.58 yards per attempt. Please remember that Jaybo was sacked for losses a few times, but absolutely nothing the Red Elephants could do could break his will. The Falcons defense started to stiffen in the second half, holding Gainesville to one field goal in the third quarter and one Tyler Adetona TD in the fourth Quarter. The Falcons finish reminded me of an experience I had when I was coaching in Philadelphia. We told the defense late in the fourth quarter, "Men, play yourself into total exhaustion, the coaching staff will carry you to the locker room."

Chestatee (5-1-0)

Average Points Scored 37.83: Average Points Allowed 23.17: Power Rating 1.63: In spite of the War Eagles 43-14 loss to Flowery Branch a couple of weeks ago, I promised you this football team was competitive with everybody in the county. The Branch out-played Chestatee that night, forcing six turnovers, but the game itself was much closer than the scored indicated. The War Eagles’ impressive win over a very good Gainesville team had to give them the confidence that they can now compete with the very best. Last Friday night, Chestatee completely dominated a very young East Hall football team in every category. They held the Viking running game to right around 1/4 of a yard per carry on 18 carries. They held East Hall’s passing game to 6.56 yards per pass attempt. The War Eagles’ well oiled option running game averaged 6.56 yards per attempt. Ben Souther led Chestatee in rushing, carrying the ball 11 times for 96 yards, or an average of 8.7 yards per carry. Jo Jo Sweet had another good game and Ethan Souther directed the traffic, making sure the offense was always attacking the defense’s weakness. The Chestatee defense seems to play better each week. This improving football team can’t afford to overlook any opponent. They have three very important games to play before they host the Trojans, which should be their toughest test, in their regular season finale.

Gainesville (4-3-0)

Average Points Scored 34.83: Average Points Allowed 22.71: Power Rating 1.52: This relatively young football team played their three toughest games one after another (North Hall, Chestatee and Flowery Branch). The Gainesville coaching staff sent a very well-prepared football team on the field last Friday night against Flowery Branch. They had an excellent game plan and I suspect everybody who watched the first quarter and a half felt like I did, "This is Gainesville’s night." Justin Fordham and his receivers were clicking on all cylinders and Kendrick Harris was his usual very competitive and hard to tackle self. Gainesville had added some quarterback running to their game plan, which threw the Flowery Branch defense a little off guard. It looked like Gainesville’s pass defense was up to the task. They had a good plan and were defending the fine Flowery Branch passing attack as good as anybody. What happened? What happened is Jaybo Shaw. What killed the Red Elephants was not Jaybo’s option running, Gainesville was ready for that. It was the freelance running that Shaw went to when he saw his receivers were covered and Gainesville was playing excellent pass defense. Having the pass defense spread out, covering the eligible receivers, Jaybo had five blockers blocking the four pass rushers. He would take off running, creating the most difficult situation for the defense, and that is the open field tackle against the highly skilled athlete. Jaybo won most of those battles, or at least enough of them to give his team a chance to win. One other factor, as a coaching staff, when you go in at halftime with a 28-14 lead you tend to fine tune things and make minor adjustments. When you go in a halftime down 28-14, you start thinking about major adjustments, knowing that if you play the second half like you played the first half, you are going to lose. Flowery Branch, in my opinion, decided to put the game in the hands of their quarterback, a decision which paid great dividends.

Johnson (2-4-0)

Average Points Scored 15.5: Average Points Allowed 17.83: Power Rating 0.87: Coming off of a open date the Knights will host the West Hall Spartans, who come to Johnson with a two-game win streak.

West Hall (2-5-0)

Average Points Scored 18.00: Average Points Allowed 24.86: Power Rating 0.72: The weekly progress this team has made since the start of the season is starting to pay off. The Spartans went to Jasper last Friday night and, led by Daniel Drummond and Marquise Stephens, got their second win in as many weeks. Drummond averaged 7.45 yards per on 20 carries and Stephens averaged 6.9 yards on 16 carries. Stephens also had a big night as a receiver, catching three passes for 28 yards, one for a touchdown. Four Spartans led the Spartans’ improving defense, linebackers Drummond, Tray Malone, Gage Brown and cornerback Steve Eckenroth. Tomorrow night West Hall plays the Johnson Knights at Johnson, which should be a great contest between two improving football teams.

East Hall (0-6-0)

Average Points Scored 7.00: Average Points Allowed 39.17: Power Rating 0.18: Progress is being made at East Hall with the very young football team. The Vikings had difficultly running the ball against Chestatee’s fine 3-5-3 defense, but they were able to gain 153 yards through the air. East Hall’s Montoious Tanner caught two passes for 65 yards and an average of 32.5 yards per reception, Chris Duong caught two passes for 61 yards and averaged 30.5 yards per reception and Austin Morgan had one reception for 28 yards. Tanner and Morgan are both sophomores and Duong is a Junior, all three should return next year, giving first year coach Bryan Gray a base upon which to build on.

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.

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