We see great high school football every week during the regular season. The teams we see play here in Gainesville and Hall County can compare with any teams anywhere in the country.
At one time in my life, I studied high school football from Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Texas among others on a regular basis. I regularly stand on the hill or just outside the fence and watch many of Hall County’s teams practice, but I see Gainesville more than most since it’s 10 minutes from my office.
Am I surprised Gainesville is in the state finals? No.
Its players come out of a great tradition. The Gainesville coaching staff holds them to a very high standard, and often my wife Betsy and I sit in the stands with former players, who love the tradition they helped build.
Those red jerseys mean something, and players have been tested and earn the right to wear that jersey for 48 minutes. Think of the hours upon hours in the offseason spent in the weight program, the hot two-a-day practices, and the guy who lines up next to you that you can absolutely count on.
When a team wins a state championship, a picture of that team is generally prominently displayed, and for years future Red Elephants will study that picture daily and dream.
1. Ware County (13-1), PR 3.54, average points 30.07, average allowed 8.50: I hate to put a non-Hall County team No. 1, but that could be temporary. Ware County lost their opener to Coffee County 21-14, but they followed that with 13 straight wins.
In those 13 wins they recorded five shutouts. They enter Friday night’s Class AAAAA state championship game coming off of four playoff wins where they outscored their four opponents 85-36.
Statistically, Ware County looks to have the stronger defense and their defensive numbers are impressive in anybody’s league.
I suspect they have not faced many teams with a quarterback like Red Elephants junior Deshaun Watson, who works behind an incredibly talented offensive line.
A team that can play defense at the level Ware County does must have tremendous overall team speed.
2. Gainesville (11-3), PR 2.09, average points 45.07, average allowed 21.57: If we looked at just the numbers, it looks like a great offensive team versus a great defensive team. First of all, let’s assume both teams are strong on both sides of the ball.
It is incredibly challenging just to earn the right to be recognized as one of the state’s two best Class AAAAA teams in a great high school football state like Georgia. Most high school players never get close to where these teams are. Gainesville’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense is extremely hard to adjust to in one week.
It tends to wear down the defensive players who never seem to have time to catch their breath. How would you like to be out of breath and have to chase Watson around all night? It makes me tired just thinking about it.
Gainesville coach Bruce Miller and his mighty Red Elephants are chasing a dream, so remember, the fourth quarter is yours.
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.