1. Flowery Branch (9-0) Power rating 3.88, Average Points 49.11, Average Allowed 12.67: Flowery Branch is coming off a dominating win against Region 8-AAAA rival, the Salem Seminoles.
Falcons quarterback Kanler Coker leads their spread offense once again, which has proven to be unstoppable, and the Flowery Branch defense is playing at a high level.
Hall County's best team plays possibly its toughest opponent of the season Friday night as it plays long-time North Georgia powerhouse Clarke Central at Billy Henderson Stadium in Athens. After losing the second game of the season 21-14 to a very good Heritage team, the Gladiators are on a seven-game winning streak with a power rating of 2.47. Clarke Central is statistically a notch down from Flowery Branch, but is clearly a very competitive opponent, as it scores over 41 points per game on average, while its defense has yielded on average slightly more than 16 points per game.
This is just the kind of opponent Flowery Branch needs as they toughen themselves for a run at the Class AAAA state championship.
2. Gainesville (8-1) Power Rating 3.52, Average Points 42.22, Average Allowed 12: The Red Elephants once again lived up to their reputation as a tough, physical defense with plenty of firepower on offense against West Hall. The Spartans, after opening the season with three straight wins, are now on a five-game losing streak. One of the things we have seen in the last few years more and more is that high school teams have gone to the spread offense.
It has turned out to be a perfect offense for highly skilled Gainesville runners and receivers. Gainesville football has always started with winning the battle upfront. It still does, but now it forces you to spread your defense out to cover the receivers. On Friday, Gainesville plays host to Stephens County (8-1) for the Region 8-AAA title and No. 1 seed to the playoffs.
Gainesville has a higher power rating (3.52) than Stephens County (2.37), but the Indians are probably the best defensive team Gainesville has seen so far this year.
Both teams have a great winning tradition and enter each game expecting to win. This is the kind of contest which requires mental toughness and four full quarters of a team's best football. Stephens County defeated North Hall 39-14 last Friday at The Brickyard.
3. North Hall (4-5) Power rating 1.08, Average Points 31.11, Average Allowed 28.78: This has been a rebuilding year for North Hall, but it's the kind of year that younger and less experienced players find out what it's like to play on Friday night under the lights.
These are learning experiences, which will bring victories with more maturity.
Still, the Trojans have a shot at the playoffs. North Hall visits Monroe Area on Friday in a region play-in for a spot in the Class AAA state playoffs.
4. East Hall (5-4) Power rating 1.01, Average Points 25, Averaged Allowed 24.67: Last Friday, the Vikings defeated Banks County (7-2) 34-17, which is playing North Oconee for the region title Friday night.
The Vikings need a win tomorrow night against second-seeded Elbert County to get a spot in the playoffs. It should be a good game, I have never seen a Viking team which didn't show up ready.
5. Chestatee (3-6) Power rating 0.64, Average Points 20.11, Average Allowed 31.44: After opening the season with three straight wins, the War Eagles have lost six straight, including last Friday night to Lumpkin County 41-18.
Chestatee visits Johnson (0-9) for the final game of the season. This is a character game where the players for both teams play for pride. I think we'll see a great effort by both teams.
6. West Hall (2-7) Power rating 0.51, Average Points 17, Average Allowed 33.11: After two early-season wins for the Spartans, it's been a long year. Last Friday, Gainesville beat West Hall 41-0. When I see a score like that, I am reminded of an experience I had in 1976, my first year coaching in the NFL. We didn't win many games, but our players played hard and we coached hard. Dick Vermiel asked the coaching staff to go through the films to pull out a highlight reel of each player who had made a very good play. I promise you there were many more than you would think.
If you and I could study last weekend's West Hall game, we'd be surprised how many outstanding plays were made and, even more important than that, the great effort many of the players put into the game.
7. Johnson (0-9) Power Rating 0.38, Average Points 11.78, Average Allowed 30.78: It's been a long year for the Knights, which lost to Monroe Area 21-0 in Oakwood. On Friday, the Knights play host to Chestatee for the final game of the 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.