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Clausen: Gainesville playing at a championship level
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Largely because of the high quality of coaching in the Hall County football programs, every week’s a test. There are few easy weeks and the team that ends up on top is battle tested and accustomed to playing against tough, well-coached opponents.

This assures that our best football team will be competitive with any of the top teams from outside the region. The Red Elephants are only two tough wins away from going to the Georgia Dome and playing for the state championship. We often sit in the stands with former Red Elephants, many of whom have helped develop the traditions and high-expectations that motivate and bring out the best in this year’s team. It isn’t easy being a Red Elephant – I’ve been to their practices.

They are expected to practice and perform at a championship level in every drill, every scrimmage and every wind sprint. Win, lose or draw, this team will show up ready and we can expect a great effort that we can all be proud of.

1. Gainesville (11-1, No. 1 Region 8 AAAAA) Power rating 3.12; Average points scored 49.92; Average points allowed 16: Gainesville, like a lot of championship quality teams, is a great third quarter team. Regardless of the score, in your opponent’s locker room the coaching staff is making key adjustments and encouraging their players.

The third quarter for the great teams, like the Red Elephants, is the will breaker. Your opponent comes out of the locker room, their coaches have made some good adjustments, they have a positive attitude, they line up against the Red Elephants and they run into a brick wall.

This is when they start to lose, and when individual players mentally start to concede. They are not likely to win this evening. The best part of their night will be a warm shower and a ride home. Deshaun Watson, the best quarterback prospect I’ve seen in 20 years of watching Hall County football, threw for 432 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards in last week’s win over South Paulding. Gainesville had 644 yards of total offense when the Red Elephants won, 51-12.

Let me remind you, this was a good South Paulding team that had a good year and earned their way into the playoffs. I noticed that coach Bruce Miller mentioned the outstanding play of his offensive line. As a group, I’ve admired their play and often stand in the end zone at games, or at practice, and watched them open up holes.

Devon Stringer, a senior linebacker, intercepted a pass first drive of the game which led to an early 31-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. Orrin Ragland, Jay Gaudlock, Chastin Newman and Rodney Lackey – all fine receivers – had a great time catching the ball all evening. Michael Byrd was he usual best in rushing.

The Red Elephants’ defense continued to perform at a championship level. They controlled the line of scrimmage and all 11 players flew to the football. This Friday night, Mundy’s Mill from Jonesboro comes to City Park with an 8-4 record and has had some big wins against some tough opponents, like last week’s 41-35 win over Lee County, which was considered an upset.

2. Chestatee (9-3, No. 2 Region 8-AAAA) Power rating 1.61; Average points scored 27.33; Average points allowed 17: The War Eagles’ great year came to an abrupt end against top- ranked Sandy Creek, 55-7, last Friday night. This was still the best Chestatee team ever, and the seniors can be proud that they’ve raised the bar for future War Eagles.

Chestatee’s usual tough run defense was unable to stop Sandy Creek, which was able to amass 352 yards of total offense. Largely because of a number of mistakes, Chestatee’s usual strong running game was held to 100 yards. This year’s seniors, including Wyatt Burgess, Zac Cheshire and Blake Buffington, set a new standard and it will be up to the future players to meet and pass that such standard.

Coach Stan Luttrell has done a great job and we can continue to expect competitive football from the War Eagles.

3. Mundy’s Mill (9-4, No. 2 Region 4-AAAAA) Power rating 1.47; Average points scored 29.08; Average points allowed 19.85: Mundy’s Mill comes into City Park Stadium on Friday night for the third round of playoffs after pulling off an upset of favored Lee County by a score of 41-35 last week. The Tigers come from Jonesboro and overcame a 0-4 start.

This should be a good game as we know from here on out it is win or go home.

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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