North Hall’s football team has snapped back into shape like a rubber band this season.
The Trojans could have easily imploded after being stretched with consecutive early-season losses to Buford (4-1, 2-1 Region 6-AA) and Gainesville (6-0, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA), even though there isn’t any shame in losing to teams that were both ranked No. 1 in the state at the time of the meeting.
But despite getting tested early, North Hall (3-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA) has since rebounded with emphatic subregion wins against Creekview (No. 7 in Class AAA at the time of the meeting) and White County.
“We have a little confidence right now after beating a very good Creekview team, and what I think is a very good White County team,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “We certainly want to keep that going now.”
Now the next test for North Hall’s football program is to avoid another speed bump. The Trojans play host to No. 7 ranked Flowery Branch (5-1, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) tonight at The Brickyard.
While the game has no subregion implications or direct impact on the playoffs, it could possibly weigh on the surging momentum the North Hall program is building.
“It will be huge to keep our confidence up,” North Hall lineman Kyle Oliver said. “We really want to win this game against Flowery Branch after the way last season’s game went.”
The Falcons won 35-7 last year against North Hall.
Meanwhile, the Falcons haven’t had to overcome the same type of lopsided defeats this season. Flowery Branch’s only loss was a non-subregion game against Creekview. After losing by three to the Grizzlies, the Falcons have responded with great offensive showings against Chestatee (48 points), Johnson (52) and West Hall (62).
But North Hall enjoys the challenge of playing a difficult early season schedule and playing schools ranked, like Flowery Branch.
With tonight’s game, the Trojans will have played four ranked opponents in their first six games. The final stretch of the schedule isn’t nearly as difficult, with none of their final four regular-season opponents ranked, even though Gilmer and Chestatee are currently both 2-0 in the subregion.
“Our first six games are probably the toughest in the state of Georgia in Class AAA,” Christmas added. “We’ve played two No. 1’s and with the Flowery Branch game, now two No. 7’s.”
The Trojans also enjoy the benefit of a full roster now from early season injuries. Running back Mack VanGorder, Trevor Ross and linebacker Ben Booth are all back to full health are nursing injuries during the Buford and Gainesville games. North Hall hopes to win this game against Flowery Branch to avoid losses to the Falcons, Gainesville and Buford all in the same season for the second consecutive year.
“We don’t want to have those three big loses on our record,” senior lineman Nathan Hewell said.
Flowery Branch’s biggest asset is remarkable balance on offense with 428 yards per game (215 rushing and 213 passing) and 42 points per game this season. Falcons senior quarterback Connor Shaw is leading their offense with 1,202 passing yards and 340 rushing yards this season. Sophomore Imani Cross is the team’s leading rusher with 662 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that North Hall is going to run the football to exhaustion. The Trojans are averaging 300 yards per game this season, 225 yards of that on the ground in their Wing-T attack. Senior Robert Humphrey is the team’s leading rusher with 280 yards this season.