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Clausen: Five Hall County squads have winning records
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The Hall County public school football programs have played 50 games in the last eight weeks. Their offenses have scored 1,725 points, and allowed 1,055 points. The power rating for these seven schools combined is 1.64, which means they’re winning 1.64 games for every one game that they lose.

Five out of the seven teams have winning records. I might add not only winning records, but dominating records. For every three games the Hall County teams have played, they win two.

A baseball player who could get a hit in two out of every three plate appearances would be a Hall of Famer. The teams that play a tough non-region schedule in their early season may have a lower power rating, but their players are getting mentally tougher, and are learning to fight every down to get a victory. As they get into the region schedule, they’re battle tested and ready.

1. Gainesville (7-1, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA) Power rating 3.32; Average points scored 50.25; Average points allowed 15.13: Red Elephants quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 26 of 36 pass attempts for 237 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 67 yards on 11 carries and two more touchdowns. Later, Gainesville coach Bruce Miller slipped his talented quarterback out to the wide receiver position where he had a 20-yard receiving touchdown. I think in hockey they call this the hat trick: throw for one, run for one and catch one for a touchdown.

Miller and his staff are making it harder and harder on the opposing defensive coaches. You never know for sure where Watson might show up on the field. Gainesville senior wide receiver Jay Gaudlock caught 10 of Watson’s passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Michael Byrd caught seven passes for 52 yards in addition to 82 rushing yards. The Red Elephants’ fine defense did their share by getting four sacks and recovering two fumbles.

After a bye Friday, Gainesville visits Loganville on Nov. 1.

2. North Hall (6-1, 3-1 Region 7-AAA) Power rating 2.61; Average points scored 44.71; Average points allowed 17.14: White County used a surprise defense against the North Hall Trojans to beat them 21-7 last Friday night.

Taking a man out of the secondary, they had an extra linebacker giving them a 5-3 defensive look. This is what coaches call an eight-man front. We don’t see a lot of eight-man fronts anymore, but it’s a tough front to run against, particularly if you hadn’t been able to work on it in practice all week. North Hall running back Zac Little rushed for 113 yards and scored on a run of 61 yards. And North Hall senior quarterback Andrew Smith had a 32-yard run on third-and-6 situation and finished with 107 yards. White County senior running back Dalton Whitfield carried the ball 18 times for 100 yards, helping to keep the Trojans offense off the field. White County totaled 300 yards of offense, 225 of those yards were on the ground.

On Friday, North Hall hosts West Hall at The Brickyard.

3. Flowery Branch (6-2, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA) Power rating 1.99; Average points scored 33.88; Average allowed 17: Flowery Branch won 33-0 against Heritage last Friday, giving them six straight region victories and a share of the lead with Gainesville. Jackson McDonald, in spite of an injured leg, let his arm do his talking as he tossed three first half touchdowns leading to the victory. McDonald hit Cam Davis for a 51-yard second quarter touchdown, and threw another touchdown pass to Davante King in the first quarter. He also hit Jemon Randolph for a 24 yard touchdown pass just before the half. The defense sacked Heritage’s quarterback four times and blocked a punt in the end zone for a touchdown. This Flowery Branch defense is playing at a championship level right now. The Falcons joined the Red Elephants as the only undefeated teams in region play.

Flowery Branch hosts Clarke Central (5-2, 4-1) on Friday in Flowery Branch.

4. Chestatee (6-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA) Power rating 1.86; Average points scored 25.00; Average points allowed 13.43: The War Eagles continue to show a lot of heart. And whereas the power rating puts them fourth, their defensive stats are clearly the best in the county. Chestatee is allowing, on average, 13.43 points a game. Those are the best defensive stats among the Hall County public school programs. Their offensive stats are not as impressive as those three teams rated ahead of them, but after seven ball games, they have only given up 94 points. Chestatee’s 20-17 double overtime win against Lanier last Friday reinforces the hard work and dedication these War Eagles play. Chestatee quarterback Wyatt Burgess had a 3-yard touchdown run which rallied the team and was the key to the victory. When you win in a double overtime as a coaching staff, you feel like carrying your team off the field. They won with their heart and when it’s all over, that’s what this great game is all about. On

Friday, Chestatee hosts Lumpkin County (1-6, 1-4) at War Eagles Stadium.

5. West Hall (5-2, 3-1 Region 7-AAA) Power rating 1.76; Average points scored 31.71; Average points allowed 18: Each week, the Spartans enter the field they look a little better than they did the week before. The blocking is a little crisper. They are fundamentally better tacklers and it’s obvious they’ve made good use of their practice time in preparation for this Friday game at North Hall. A big part of the success of any team is senior leadership. The young players watch the seniors and how well they practice and how well they prepare. The seniors are the role models for the whole team. Last Friday, the Spartans beat East Hall 27-7. The Spartans blocked better, they tackled better and they did a great job of executing their game plans.

Largely because of fine offensive line play, the Spartans dominated the running game and controlled the clock, keeping the East Hall offense on the sideline a good portion of the game. West Hall tight end Hunter Atkinson had a great game with two touchdown receptions, and when the East Hall offense came on the field, Atkinson stayed on the field and played some fine defense. West Hall’s Ty Statham had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half, which gave the Spartans a 21-7 lead and took the starch out the Viking sails. West Hall visits North Hall (6-1, 3-1) on Friday at The Brickyard.

6. East Hall (3-4, 0-4 Region 7-AAA) Power rating 1.29; Average points scored 33.43; Average points allowed 25.86: Coming off of a bye week, the Vikings had a disappointing 27-7 loss to the Spartans last Friday.

Historically, Bryan Gray’s Vikings have been resilient, and I think we can expect a pretty good game coming up Friday against Banks County. Vikings quarterback Devin Watson threw for 151 yards in the first half, but good halftime adjustments by the Spartans kept Watson to only 48 yards through the air in the second half. You can bet the Banks County coaching staff will be studying the second half of East Hall’s game against West Hall, but so will East Hall. And Gray will have his team ready to counter any adjustments that Banks County has learned from watching the Vikings’ previous game. One thing I have learned from being a defensive coach, when you adjust to stop one thing, you create a weakness some place else. You just hope your opponent doesn’t figure it out until the next day when they are studying film.

7. Johnson (2-6) Power rating 0.39; Average points scored 13.50; Average points allowed 34.63: Johnson lost to Druid Hills last Friday in a tight game, 13-9. In a game where the score was 13-9, obviously both teams had players that played well. Knights junior quarterback Chase Sims threw a touchdown pass to Jamison Owen. Jesse Griggs, who plays on both sides of the ball, is the workhouse on defense and leads Johnson in rushing, as well. Knights senior Luis Hernandez played 87 snaps and his leadership on and off the field is an inspiration to his teammates. Johnson’s Orion Pittman, one of the leading tacklers in the game, was also a standout. The maturation process for this young football team is ongoing. While making some mistakes, they are playing better and better on both sides of the ball each week. Johnson hosts Pickens (4-3, 1-2 Region 7-AAAA) on Friday in Oakwood.

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.

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