At one time in my life I was the national recruiter at Ohio State University. I saw high school football from all over the country; from Southern California, Texas, Florida, up the East Coast and into the Midwest. Seldom did I ever see high school players who were better coached fundamentally than you and I see at any of the Hall County football games on Friday night. My wife Betsy and I are both big high school fans and it’s great for us to see such high quality high school football.
1. Gainesville (3-1) PR 2.69, Points Scored, 180, Points Allowed, 67: The Gainesville Red Elephants continue to look like the dominant football team in Hall County. The Deshaun Watson-led offense continues to be almost unstoppable as it rolled up 49 points in the first half against Apalachee last Friday night. Watson finished 18 for 21 passing for 301 yards (17 for 20 for 294 in the first half). This lead let coach Bruce Miller give some of his fine young players plenty of playing time in the second half in what would be a 62-20 win. These kind of wins help Gainesville build for the future, as a number of young players get experience in varsity competition under the lights. Heritage (4-0), which has scored 85 points and allowed 21 points against, will be in Gainesville on Friday night to take on the Red Elephants in what could be the toughest test this season.
2. North Hall (2-1) PR 1.69, Points Scored, 108, Points Allowed, 64: North Hall, having fallen to Jefferson two weeks ago, is coming off its bye week and is ready to go and take on Dawson County (4-1), which has outscored opponents 153-64. This should be a great test for the young Trojans and fans should travel to Dawsonville and watch their team.
3. Chestatee (2-1) PR 1.18, Points Scored, 129, Points Allowed, 109: The War Eagles are coming off one of the most exciting high school games we have seen in North Georgia over the last 20 years. Eddie Zamora’s extra point gave his teammates a 57-56 win over Eastside in a double overtime thriller last Friday night at War Eagle Stadium. Chestatee senior and wide receiver Kelly Arthur, whose fourth down pass reception tied the game, allowed Zamora to make the winning kick. Arthur ran the “wheel route” (flat and up) to perfection. Quan Clark, Chestatee’s explosive running back, ran for 307 yards (250 of them in the first half). He also scored three touchdowns on his 29 carries. The War Eagles rushed a total of 540 yards. In a 57-56 game they needed every one of those yards. Friday night the War Eagles will travel to Stephens County.
4. Johnson (3-2) PR .71, Points Scored, 97, Points Allowed, 137: The most thrilling games in all sports are those games that come down to the final play. The Johnson Knights this past weekend played one of those games. With 30 seconds left in the game, coach Jason Roquemore showed his young players how to lay it all on the line. He could have kicked an extra point which would have insured a tie and an overtime, but went for two and a gamble that helped create one of the most thrilling athletic contests that we will see in Hall County at any time in any sport. Both teams played a scoreless first half where the defenses dominated the game. Both coaching staffs and players made some excellent halftime adjustments, allowing both teams to score three touchdowns in the last two quarters. Those of us who have been watching Hall County football for years know that East Hall is never an easy win. On Friday, Johnson has an open date giving them two weeks to prepare to play Chestatee at home on Oct. 5.
5. Flowery Branch (2-2) PR 1.06, Points Scored, 113, Points Allowed, 107: After Flowery Branch’s 47-14 win over Loganville, I suspect their power rating under represents their true strengths. But for now I’m going to let the numbers be the numbers. As the season goes along I may make some adjustments based on strength of schedule, which could well go to the benefit of the Falcons, who play an extremely challenging schedule. Because of the early lead a lot of the fine young Falcons got a lot of playing time in the third and fourth quarters. Flowery Branch heads to Conyers on Friday and meets with Salem High. Another tough battle will ensue.
6. West Hall (2-2) PR 1.02, Points Scored, 94, Points Allowed, 92: The improving West Hall Spartans had a nice 33-20 win over Banks County. When West Hall’s Chase Jarrard blocked a punt at the beginning of the third quarter on the 5 yard line, West Hall took the next play in for a touchdown, giving the Spartans the lead and the psychological control of the game. West Hall started fast when Kwon Williams returned the opening kickoff of the game for a touchdown. Isaiah Rowe and Antonio Pittman continued to lead an impressive running game. West Hall’s defense, which looks stronger to me each week, held Banks County scoreless in the second half. Rowe averaged almost 7 yards a carry and Pittman averaged 8.4 yards on 12 carries. West Hall plays host to Fannin County on Friday.
7. East Hall (2-2) PR. 95, Points Scored, 97, Points Allowed, 137: This past Friday night two games were decided in the last 30 seconds – unfortunately for East Hall, whose players played a whale of a game, as they lost a 22-21 thriller to Johnson. The most exciting games in all sports are the ones decided on the last play of the game. The Vikings played hard and played bravely for all 48 minutes, but when the game was over they were one point short. Hall County has a lot of good football players this year, and from what we can see so far there’s not much distance between the teams at the top and at the bottom. East Hall visits White County on Friday.
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.