At the end of Week 3 Gainesville and North Hall look like Hall County’s best two high school football teams. Because of region changes we are not going to see this rivalry decided on the field by the players and coaches. Assuming, as in previous years, these are the two best, it’s a shame for the players, coaches and fans.
Gainesville-North Hall week reminded me of Michigan week during my five seasons in Columbus, Ohio. The on-field contest is an intense man-on-man battle often played by players who have been dreaming about playing in this game since their parents started taking them to high school football games as young boys.
1. Gainesville (2-1), PR 2.51; Points Scored 118, Points Allowed 47: The Gainesville player for the most part has grown up dreaming of the day when he’d get one of those red jerseys and play under the lights before friends and family. Now it is his time to leave his mark on Red Elephant history.
Last Friday night Winder-Barrow’s defense found out what it’s like get in front of the Deshaun Watson-led offensive machine, while it looked like the Bulldoggs offense was up against a brick wall. I may be wrong, but this year’s team is playing with a special intensity. Talent can make you good, but talent and intensity make the sky the limit.
A close loss in your opener to a really good team may be a blessing in disguise; it makes you realize how close you are to being really good. Friday night Gainesville hosts Apalachee (1-1).
2. North Hall (2-1), PR 1.69; Points Scored 108, Points Allowed 64: The Trojans lost to a good Jefferson team on Friday night 27-21. Right now it looks like the Trojans are going to have to tighten up their defense if they plan on competing for the region championship. Generally North Hall is a grinding, ball control offense. This needs to match up with a stingy defense in order to play at a championship level.
Fundamentally very sound, North Hall wins a game or two against superior talent, in my opinion, each year. With a bye this week, the Trojans have two weeks to prepare for Dawson County on Sept. 28.
3. Chestatee (1-1), PR 1.36; Points Scored 72, Points Allowed 53: Having a bye last Friday night, the War Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for Friday’s opponent Eastside.
4. East Hall (2-1), PR 0.95; Points Scored 78, Points Allowed 82: East Hall gets great leadership from the five guys who play in their interior offensive line positions.
Following this great blocking are Austin Mahaffey and Quay Jarrells led a bevy of ball carriers to nearly 500 rushing yards in a 50-20 win over East Jackson on Friday. It was the most points scored by an East Hall team since 2005.
East Hall plays host to Johnson on Friday night, a big game for both teams.
5. West Hall (1-2), PR 0.85; Points Scored 61, Points Allowed 72: I have a feeling we are watching an improving football team at West Hall. Fundamental soundness is an every day, every practice kind of thing; it won’t be drastic but it must be consistent. As a player improves fundamentally, he gains more confidence as he experiences more and more success. One day at a time the Spartans are improving.
Friday night against Banks County (1-2) may be the perfect test for this year’s Spartans.
6. Flowery Branch (1-2), PR 0.71; Points Scored 66, Points Allowed 93: After the 45-27 victory last week over Cedar Shoals we may well be looking at an improving team which is prepared to make significant improvement during its last seven games.
Right now the Falcon defense is allowing 31 points per game.
There are almost no teams with a winning record in any league which allows over 25 points a game.
Improving on defense is a must if the Falcons are going to be competitive.
Hosting Loganville on Friday night is going to tell every fan what kind of team the Falcons have this year.
7. Johnson (2-2), PR 0.65; Points Scored 75, Points Allowed 116: The power rating has the Knights seventh due largely to their 55-7 loss to North Hall, which may under represent the true strength of the Knights (2-2).
All athletes throughout their playing career are measured by how well they bounce back from defeat. They need to keep improving on their consistency and then not fumble — great goals to work on!
Johnson travels to East Hall on Friday night. I can’t see this game being decided till late in the fourth quarter.
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.