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Clausen: Flowery Branch tops Week 2 power rankings
No. 1 Falcons riding back-to-back shutouts
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At the end of week 2, we still have three undefeated teams in Hall County: Flowery Branch, which has been impressive in pitching two shutouts; West Hall which is coming off a winless season; and North Hall, which beat a very good Jefferson team last Friday and faces perennial power St. Pius X on Friday at the Brickyard.

The Falcons are playing great defense, and the West Hall defense has significantly improved, allowing an average of only 9.5 points per game in two games. North Hall has a bunch of offensive weapons and the best potential passing game coach Bob Christmas has had since coming to North Hall.

Gainesville is young; few teams in Georgia lost as many great players from last season as the Red Elephants. East Hall, which played a bunch of freshmen and sophomores last year, has a much more experienced team.

Both Chestatee and Johnson have had to replace some outstanding players, and both teams will grow and mature and should be much better in Weeks 9 and 10, than they were in weeks 1 and 2.

1. Flowery Branch (2-0) Power Rating 49, points scored 49, points allowed 0

This a much different Falcon team from the ones we have seen in previous seasons. In the past several years the Falcons, using the spread option offense, were high-scoring and stayed pretty evenly balanced between the run and the pass. They had a pretty average defense and depended on their offense to carry them.

If the first two games of this season are any indication, they are playing great defense and doing a good job of controlling the football with their offense. The Falcons defense held Winder Barrow to an average of 3.2 yards per rush and 138 yards total offense.

The offense was balanced, throwing the ball 25 times and averaging 8 yards per pass attempt, while averaging 4.9 yards per rush on 23 total running plays.

Friday night a very good Apalachee team will be the toughest test the Falcons have had so far this season. Apalachee opened its season last week, beating Habersham Central 35-7 and is currently ranked No. 9 in the state.

2. West Hall (2-0) Power Rating 2.21, points scored 42, points allowed 19

It is great to see a team which didn’t get a win all last season open up 2-0. I was at Chestatee last week and saw the War Eagle-Spartan game.

Senior quarterback Shunquez Stephens started the game on his own 1-yard line and completed his first 10 passes driving his team 99 yards for its first TD. Stephens also led his team in rushing, carrying the ball 25 times and averaged 4.0 yards per rush. Receiver Brandon Fuqua had another big night, catching nine passes for 65 yards and William Stoup caught four passes for 45 yards, several in key situations.

The Spartan run defense was spotty, allowing 5.9 yards per rush, but were helped by two fumble recoveries. The West Hall pass defense, facing veteran quarterback Scott Chewning, allowed an average of 9.9 yards per pass attempt.

In spite of being outgained 313-286, the Spartans made the plays when they counted.
Friday night, West Hall puts its undefeated record on the line against a good visiting White County team.

3. North Hall (1-0) Power Rating 1.14, points scored 24, points allowed 21

The Trojans started the game hot last Friday night as they hosted the Jefferson Dragons, who were undefeated in the regular season last year and opened the season with a win over Commerce.

Led by quarterback Kanler Coker, the Trojans dominated the first half with an accurate short and intermediate passing game combined with that North Hall running game. The Trojans led 17-0 at halftime.

While the passing game added a new dimension, the Trojans still ran the ball 46 times for 225 yards and an average of 4.9 per carry.

Jefferson was able to average 4.6 yards per carry on 20 running plays, but did the most damage with the passing game, throwing two touchdown passes and averaging 9.3 per pass attempt. When it was all over, the fact that the Trojans were able to recover three fumbles and intercept one pass clearly contributed to the North Hall victory.

The Trojans threw one interception, but had no fumbles.

Friday night the Trojans host perennial power St. Pius X at the Brickyard. St. Pius has been 21-3 over the last two seasons.

4. East Hall (1-1) Power Rating 0.87, points scored 34, points allowed 39

East Hall ran the ball very effectively against Johnson last Friday night averaging 6.7 yards per rush. Jamond Witt turned out to be a one-man wrecking crew, carrying the ball 13 times, and averaging over 11 yards per carry.

Proving just as hard to tackle on returns, he brought one punt back 90 yards for a score.

The Vikings showed almost no passing game, throwing the ball twice and completing one for 3 yards.

East Hall fumbled the ball six times, losing four. However, the Viking defense forced six fumbles and recovered three. The Vikings defense also intercepted a pass, so both defenses had four takeaways.

The Vikings averaged an incredible 46.6 yards per punt; that’s NFL caliber punting and a major factor in what turned out to be a very close win for East Hall, 28-21.

Friday night the Vikings host a strong Elbert County team which is coming off a big win over perennial power Stephens County.

5. Gainesville (1-1) Power Rating 0.81, points scored 50, points allowed 62

Few high school teams anywhere had to replace as many great athletes as this year’s Red Elephants. And even fewer have a more talented freshman quarterback. The great thing about Gainesville, because of the school tradition, when they issue you one of those red jerseys it comes with high expectations.

Last Friday night in Cleveland, Gainesville played a fine White County team, which came into the game with the feeling if there was ever a year to beat the Red Elephants this might be the year. White County got an early lead when their quarterback Cole Segraves hit his brother Cam Segraves for the first touchdown of the game. It didn’t take long before freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson hit receiver Keyontra Harrison for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

The Gainesville run defense held the Warriors to 1.7 per rush and 5.4 yards per pass attempt. Those are solid numbers particularly when you consider that White County has a fine offensive football team.

On offense, Watson had an excellent game as he averaged 11.3 yards per pass attempt, completed 63 percent of his pass attempts, and really contributed to the running game.

I was driving back from the West Hall-Chestatee game, when I heard that lineback A. J. Johnson entered the game on offense as a runner. What a terrific change of pace; a lot of the spread offense is finesse, and putting a 235-pound athlete in your backfield in a position to carry the ball is Bronco Nagurski’s football — “here I come, try and stop me.”

Gainesville has Friday night off. What do you want to bet there may be a Red Elephant or two at the Brickyard starting to get mentally ready for Sept. 17?

6. Johnson (0-2) Power Rating 0.69, points scored 29, points allowed 42

Last Friday night against East Hall, Johnson had more first downs, more yards rushing, more completions, more yards passing, more total yards and one less lost fumble, but still lost the game.

Let’s look inside the numbers: On offense, the Knights averaged 5.6 yards per carry, an excellent number.

However, on defense they allowed 6.6 yards per carry.

On offense the Knights averaged 4.4 yards per pass attempt and since East Hall only passed twice for 3 yards the Vikings passing game was a non-factor.

Johnson had three runners who had impressive nights running the football: Luke Gilleland carried the ball 17 times and averaged 6.5 yards per carry; Cedric Harris had 14 carries and averaged 7.6 yards per carry; and
Joey Brooks carried the ball eight times and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

By the way, that is a very impressive night’s work for the five big guys and the tight end who opened up the holes for these ball carriers.

Friday night, Johnson hosts Chestatee in what should be a very even match up.

7. Chestatee (0-1) Power Rating 0.54, points scored 13, points allowed 24

Last Friday night, the War Eagles opened up the season at home against West Hall. I was at this game and it was an even match-up. Both West Hall and Chestatee have excellent quarterbacks.

Chestatee’s Scott Chewning reads the triple option well and Chestatee has an effective running game; they averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Primarily a running team, they still have a winning passing game as they averaged 9.9 yards per pass attempt.

The defense held the Spartans to 3.3 yards per attempt running and 5.9 yards per pass attempt, both solid numbers. Two lost fumbles probably cost the War Eagles a win. This was Chestatee’s season opener; they didn’t have previous games to work out some of the kinks.

Friday night the War Eagles travel to Johnson. Both teams will be seeking their first win of the 2010 season.

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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