Five out of the seven Hall County public school football teams have a winning record, and some of their toughest contests are when they play each other. A case could be made that we might have a four-way tie for first in the power ratings, or at least a three-way tie.
However, the power rating was designed for the NFL as a mathematical means to separate teams. We all know that the real test comes on Friday night. I know I had — as both a player and a coach — a goal that was to get “back to the tunnel with a victory.” I was the national recruiter for Ohio State University at one time and saw high school football from all over the country. Seldom did I see higher quality coaching and playing as I do every Friday night when I see your son and your friends sons under the lights at one of Hall County’s high school stadiums.
1. North Hall (6-1) PR 3.68, average points 45.71, average allowed 12.43: The Trojans power rating still puts them at the top of Week 8 after dominating a good White County team. Coming into the game, White County had a 4-2 record and we had every reason to expect a competitive contest. The Trojans dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage and you could tell, because of their early domination of the line, it was going to be a long night for the Warriors. While North Hall plays solid defense, the offense grinds on an opponent one play at a time. The Trojans had some big plays, but it is the 4-to-6-yard plays which grind on the opponent and give North Hall an edge in the third and fourth quarters. Kevin Christmas led the Trojans in rushing with 83 yards on nine carries and one touchdown. Zac Little had a 51-yard run and T.J. Tate made significant contributions to the North Hall ground dominance. The Trojans visit West Hall on Friday.
2. Gainesville (7-1) PR 2.62, average points 45.25, average allowed 17.25: I saw Gainesville last Friday night and the Red Elephants beat a good Clarke Central team 49-28. Both teams have excellent, skilled players, but Gainesville was stronger and more physical up front where games are won and lost. Gainesville has a splendid quarterback in Deshaun Watson who is a run-pass threat every time he takes the snap. Watson was 23 of 32 for 241 yards passing. Those are winning stats at any level. Gainesville has an open date tomorrow night and plays Loganville on Nov. 2 at home.
3. Flowery Branch (6-2) PR 1.47, average points 33.38, average allowed 22.75: This year’s Falcons are mentally tough and they have a coaching staff which refuses to let them get down on themselves. We have seen some great comeback wins this year, and last Friday night was as good as it gets. Down 27-6 at halftime, these determined Falcons came out and exploded for 29 second-half points, posting a 35-27 comeback victory. Tomorrow night the Falcons travel to Athens to play perennial powerhouse Clarke Central, a team coming off a stinging loss to a very good Gainesville team.
4. Chestatee (6-1) PR 1.43, average points 39, average allowed 27.29: I go by the mathematical power rating, but a good argument could be made that the War Eagles are as good as any team in Hall County. This year’s War Eagles have won some games they will never forget. A touchdown run in overtime gave these valiant War Eagles their sixth victory in seven games this season. Chestatee visits Lumpkin County on Friday.
5. Johnson (5-3) PR 1.04, average points 24.50, average allowed 23.50: This year’s Knights play with great heart for the full 48 minutes, win or lose. Largely because of senior leadership, they have improved every week since the beginning of the season as Druid Hills found out last Friday night. Cedric Harris has been among the Knights leaders. He’s one of those ball carriers who nobody has figured out how to stop. A.J. Millwood, Jose Martinez and Luis Hernandez definitely upheld the Knights spirit and drive to bring in a 42-15 victory. Johnson visits Pickens on Friday.
6. East Hall (3-4) PR 0.65, average points 21.57, average allowed 33.16: How’s this for an exciting finish, the East Hall Vikings beat West Hall with a two-point conversion for an overtime victory. That’s a game they will never forget, because most players play in so few overtimes, and then to win going for 2, it will be memorable. This was definitely a back-and-forth game with Edward Vergara, Milton Whelchel, Devin Watson and Austin Mahaffey plus the rest of the East Hall team giving their all.
7. West Hall (3-4) PR 0.61, average points 18.43, average allowed 30.43: It had to be a tough loss for these hard-working Spartans last Friday night. Go toe-to-toe for 48 minutes and they lose in overtime. West Hall has played toe-to-toe with some of the best. Zach English threw some fine passes, one being a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Atkinson and another to Chase Jarrard. Isaiah Rowe ran well in the beginning of the second half and added a touchdown. Gentlemen, don’t despair, just keep fighting and good things will come your way. West Hall plays host to North Hall on Friday.