This week’s predictions:
.000Falcons over Bears: Don’t expect another outburst like last week’s, but Atlanta will show out in primetime.
Georgia over Vanderbilt: For the sake of Mark Richt’s sanity.
Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech: The Jackets don’t yet have the defense to knock off the ACC’s only elite team.
Jefferson over Banks County: All’s clear until the Dragons meet unbeatens North Oconee and East Jackson in the season’s final two weeks.
Wesleyan over Commerce: Take heart Tigers; you’re the only team in 8-A that will keep it respectable against the defending state champs.
North Oconee over Dawson County: It’s been more than a month since anybody scored on the Titans.
Flowery Branch over East Hall: Falcons get back on track with subregion win.
Eastside over Jackson County: The Eagles could be headed for their second straight region title.
Fannin County over Riverside: An effective Rebel running game will be the difference.
Georgia Military over Towns County: The Indians have yet to beat a Georgia team this season.
Habersham Central over Monroe Area: A win here keeps the Raiders’ postseason dream alive.
Lumpkin County over West Hall: A running game finding a rhythm meets a defense struggling to make a stop.
North Hall over Pickens: Trojans eyeing a home game in the playoffs.
Union County over Oglethorpe County: The playoffs start now for the Panthers. Win out, and they’re in.
Prince Avenue over Lakeview: The Wolverines dominated Fellowship Christian, which beat Lakeview by a point.
Buford over Thomson: Even though the Bulldogs aren’t what they once were, this game will tell us how much Buford has improved since the Lovett loss.
West Forsyth over Johnson: The Knights’ offense got going last week, but the defense will need to improve to pass this week’s test.
White County over Chestatee: Expect a dogfight. The Warriors get the edge due to better offensive balance.
Last week: 12-2
Season: 88-24 (.786)
Unless you’re a fan of old-school football — as in the era of leather helmets and meaningful Ivy League games — it may not be the prettiest thing to watch.
With all 22 guys on the field bunched around the line of scrimmage, the quarterback takes the snap, spins, fakes and plunges, facemask first into a pile. Three yards in a cloud of knees, elbows and humanity.
Fun ‘n Gun, it ain’t.
There’s something about the sight of wide receivers spread from sideline to sideline that modern football fans find pleasing. It looks dangerous, fresh, innovative. And often it is. Innovation of strategy is one element that separates football from other sports.
Baseball prides itself on being the same game it was 120 years ago, and Phil Jackson’s triangle offense may be on basketball’s cutting edge, but there’s an equally avant-garde scheme on display every weekend during football season.
At it’s core, though, football is still about the physical imposing of wills — in other words, knocking people over and pushing people around.
To that end, everything old is new again. And the hot new thing in football isn’t the spread-‘em-out-and-wing-it philosophies of Tony Franklin; it’s the back-to-basics brand of Knute Rockne.
It’s showing up at every level of the sport.
In the NFL, the Wildcat package has been called a fad, a gimmick, and everything but an honest way to accumulate yards.
In reality, the Wildcat is a just new name for an old scheme that predates the forward pass. Back then, they called it the Single Wing, and the advantage it offers is that instead of just being a distributor of the football, the “quarterback” is a threat to run.
In a traditional pro-style offense, the defense has a de facto 11-on-10 advantage. The Wildcat levels the playing field.
Jets coach Rex Ryan was a detractor until the Dolphins’ running game started rolling downhill like a flaming ball of butcher knives against his defense Monday night.
The final tally from that game told the tale: Dolphins 31, Jets 27. Sixteen plays from the Wildcat, 101 yards (6.3 yards per play).
In the college game, what Urban Meyer’s doing this year at Florida isn’t much different. With a dearth of explosive playmaking receivers on the perimeter, the Gators have turned their version of the spread offense into a power running game with great effect.
Paul Johnson also likes to refer to his offense as the spread option, but unlike the finesse game that moniker brings to mind, the Georgia Tech version — which more closely resembles the old-fashioned wishbone — is one of the most physical offenses in the nation.
Watching the Yellow Jackets pound, slash and rip their way through Florida State late last Saturday night drove that point home.
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Tech ran the ball on 22 of their 23 plays from scrimmage.
Quarterback Josh Nesbitt got 18 of those carries and racked up 103 of his team-high 140 rushing yards. By the end of it, Nesbitt could barely pick himself up after each play, and 40 seconds later, everybody in the stadium knew he was about to run it again. But it didn’t matter.
There’s a lot to be said for spreading the ball around and keeping the defense on its heels, but there’s still nothing as demoralizing to a defense as when they know exactly what’s coming and can’t do a single thing to stop it.
\Nobody needs to tell that to North Hall’s last three opponents.
Under coach Bob Christmas, the Trojans have their Wing-T offense humming like a finely tuned engine. They’ve won three straight, rushing for more than 324 yards per game.
In their most recent win over Flowery Branch, North Hall finished with 395 yards of total offense. None of that came through the air.
That may not be high-fashion football, but it wins, and winning is something that never goes out of style.
Brent Holloway is the sports editor of The Times. Contact him at email@example.com.