At the end of Week 2 North Hall is our only undefeated team. Gainesville is 1-1, but has played the toughest schedule. I have not talked to coach Bruce Miller about it, but let me speculate: Going into the season he knew he had a number of high-quality athletes, so he scheduled really tough nonregion games, so that when the Red Elephants start playing region games the players are battle-tested and ready.
Power Ratings are much better indicators of relative strength later in the season when the players have played more snaps, and have separated from the competition. North Hall, I understand, is playing from the wishbone, a great coaching move as long as the players’ skill sets fit. As an old defensive coach let me assure you, getting ready for the wishbone in one week is a daunting task and the Trojans are always fundamentally sound.
1. North Hall (2-0) Power Rating 3.22, Points Scored 87, Points Allowed 27: The wishbone is primarily a running offense, where throughout the game the fullback, the two halfbacks and the quarterback will all carry the football. In theory, the “who runs” decision is made by the quarterback as he reads the defense. Many teams have kept that decision in the coaches’ hands since they have been able to figure out from the press box where the strengths and weaknesses are.
North Hall running back T.J. Tate averaged 8.2 yards per carry as the Trojan offensive line took control of the line of scrimmage in last Friday’s win against Johnson. Wishbone blocking is not complicated, but these Trojan blockers established control like a bunch of guys who lived the whole offseason in the weight room pumping iron. Friday night North Hall hosts Jefferson (1-1). It should be an exciting contest, as both sets of players enter the game with high expectations.
2. Johnson (2-1) Power Rating .70, Points Scored 62, Points Allowed 89: The Knights ran into a buzz saw at North Hall after opening the season with two wins. North Hall has a well established tradition, while “Coach Rock” (Johnson coach Jason Roquemore) is just getting started. These Johnson kids are now, and have always been, tough. Roquemore is obviously building toughness into his players on a daily basis, and I will not be at all surprised to see a significantly better team in Week 8, 9 and 10.
Johnson plays host to North Murray (2-0) Friday night at The Dungeon.
3. Chestatee (1-1) Power Rating 1.17, Points Scored 62, Points Allowed 53: The War Eagles used early takeaways to establish dominance over West Hall, and then played a pretty even game with a three-touchdown lead.
Chestatee running back Quan Clark led the way in the running game, averaging six yards a carry on 19 carries. Because of the War Eagles’ strong running game, defenses often make themselves vulnerable to the long pass, and sure enough Tony Fayson caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, giving Chestatee a 35-21 lead.
The War Eagles are starting to force more mistakes by their opponents. This is a sign of a winning team. A team which forces four turnovers wins 90 percent of the time.
4. Gainesville (1-1) Power Rating 1.04, Points Scored 49, Points Allowed 47: Do I really believe Gainesville is fourth? No, but during the first five or six games I let the numbers be the numbers. The players each Friday night go out and help me correct my mistakes.
Last Friday night this tough bunch of Red Elephants climbed on the bus committed to lay it all on the line against what, in my opinion, is one of the very best high school programs in the country. Teams which play great games have several players in the huddle who absolutely won’t let their teammates let up regardless of how tough it gets. I’ve seen these Red Elephants lose, but have never seen them quit. I don’t know who they are, but there are some mighty tough hombres in that Gainesville huddle. I love to watch their quarterback play, he gives Gainesville a chance against anyone.
Gainesville visits Winder-Barrow to open Region 8-AAAAA play on Friday.
5. East Hall (1-1) Power Rating .45, Points Scored 28, Points Allowed 62: Coming off an open date, the Vikings host East Jackson (0-2) Friday night. They will be ready to challenge their opponent and the extra week should help them toward another win.
6. West Hall (0-2) Power Rating .56, Points Scored 34, Points Allowed 61: New Coach, new program and they are coming off a 42-21 loss to Chestatee. This program has some fine athletes. And it looks to me like they are getting better each week.
The next test is Lumpkin County (0-2) on Friday in Oakwood. This is a young program which can get better each week, and with the right attitude will be a formidable foe by the end of the season.
7. Flowery Branch (0-2) Power Rating .32, Points Scored 21, Points Allowed 66: Flowery Branch has a new coach, Chris Griffin, and they have lost a lot of great players, however, the 21-14 loss to a very good West Forsyth team tells me this is a good football team.
There were good things that happened — Justin Curry was strong in the running game, and Jackson McDonald had some fine throws — but turnovers hurt.
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.