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Stories to follow in second half of high school football season
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Since most high school football teams are at the midway point of the season, here’s some of the biggest stories to follow for the second half of the regular season. There have been some minor surprises so far this season, making the next five weeks probably even more exciting for fans in Northeast Georgia to follow.

1). The biggest thing I’ll be interesting in following is seeing whether Flowery Branch (5-0, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA) can claim its first region title in program history. With all the success the Falcons had over their first nine seasons, it’s probably lost on some fans that they’ve never entered the playoffs with the No. 1 seed. While Class AAAA should for all intents and purposes be a more difficult level of football, Flowery Branch is on pace to have its best regular season. The only thing standing in the Falcons’ way of claiming the region crown is probably a game Nov. 4 at Clarke Central, the same school that won 8-AAAA in 2010.

2). Staying in Region 8-AAAA, it will be interesting to see what kind of numbers that Habersham Central quarterback Kevin Ellison finishes with in his senior season. After last Friday’s 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Winder-Barrow, he’s still the leading rusher in Northeast Georgia and is one of the area’s top passers too. He’ll face his toughest competition in the regular season Friday night when the Raiders visit Flowery Branch, which is only allowing 172 yards of offense per game this season.

3). Gainesville’s in the hunt to claim its fourth consecutive region title. The Red Elephants (4-1, 1-0 Region 8B-AAA) should make it through the subregion without much of a challenge. But how will they do in the region title game? The good news for Gainesville is that, if they win the South subregion, the region title game will be at Bobby Gruhn Field on Nov. 4. However, the North subregion as a whole is much tougher than last year. Stephens County (4-1, 1-0 North subregion), Lumpkin County (4-1, 1-0) and North Hall (2-3, 1-0) are all still real contenders for the subregion title.

4). Can North Hall make it back to the playoffs after getting shut out in 2010? A Trojans squad that looked like it was headed for a long season with three straight early losses, snapped right back last Friday with a 48-7 win against Chestatee (3-2, 0-1). If North Hall is going to make it far, it’s going to be thanks to the incredible running abilities of senior Imani Cross, who ran for 280 yards and three scores against the War Eagles. His rushing numbers probably remind some of the stats 2005 grad T.J. Pitts put up when he was wearing the Trojans green. The region title is still conceivably possible for North Hall, but they’ll have to take care of business in subregion play before even considering a possible rematch against the Big Red.

5). Is this the year East Hall finally makes it back to the state playoffs? It seems like a long time since the Vikings (3-2, 1-0 Region 8-AA North) last played a postseason game against Laney during the 2005 season in Augusta. Since then, the Vikings have taken their lumps. However, East Hall coach Bryan Gray has a team talented enough to compete and just as importantly believes it can compete. Looking at the big picture of Region 8-AA, East Hall will probably need to win its subregion to get into the playoffs, making the final four of the regular season against Union County, Fannin County, Dawson County and Banks County critical. The good news for the Vikings is that all of these are games they can win. The South subregion in Region 8-AA is clearly the most talented with Elbert County and North Oconee (5-0, 2-0) and Jefferson (4-1, 1-1) all really strong contenders.