Class AAA - Region 7 Football Preview

2005 Football Preview
Class AAA - Region 7

What an exciting three-year run it has been for North Hall. After a 1-9 finish in 2001, the Trojans have combined for a 29-6 record and three consecutive playoff appearances since. Last year, North Hall rolled to a 10-0 record, won its first two playoffs games, then took Class AAA state runner-up Washington County to the wire before falling 14-7. The Trojans have some major shoes to fill if they want to come close to duplicating last year's success. North Hall lost all-everything player T.J. Pitts and his 2.422 rushing yards and 29 TDs to graduation. The good news is that North Hall's success under coach Bob Christmas has allowed some younger players to receive playing time during the team's blowout victories. Christmas hopes that pays off this season. Quarterback Brandon Garcia, who threw for 1,087 yards and 13 TDs, will be back to lead the offense.

Gainesville lost some key players too but figures to be in thick of the region race. The Red Elephants lost leading rusher Joseph Mahaffey and some key standouts on defense. However, Gainesville won't be starting from scratch. The team will build around a trio of talented seniors - offensive tackle Andrew Wright (6-2, 240), defensive back Brandon Strickland (5-10,175) and linebacker Justin Wilkins (5-11, 200).

Pickens had one of its best seasons ever last season, finishing as the region runner-up and making the playoffs. The Dragons look to make another run at the postseason, but they need to fill some key positions.

Johnson-Gainesville has made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and should continue this season. The Knights have a combined record of 21-12 during the past three seasons, one of the best runs in school history.

White County could be a team to watch in this region. The Warriors just missed making the postseason in 2004 and should be much improved.

West Hall missed the playoffs for the second straight season after making the postseason for three consecutive years. The Spartans hope that streak ends this season.

Fannin County, Chestatee, Flowery Branch and Gilmer ranked near the bottom of this region in 2004. The four teams should be better, but competing in this region will be a daunting task.

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