Thursday October 8th, 2015 7:36PM

North Hall looking to end one streak, maintain another on Friday

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
-- WHAT: Class AAA football playoffs, first round
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Don Patterson Stadium, Ringgold
-- NORTH HALL (8-2, No. 3 seed Region 7-AAA): Lost 42-14 to No. 1 Buford last week.
-- RINGGOLD (8-2, No. 2 seed Region 6-AAA): Lost 33-16 to No. 2 Cartersville last week.
-- HISTORY: North Hall defeated Ringgold 39-21 in the first round of the 2009 Class AAA playoffs.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Elbert County vs. Cedar Grove winner
Related Articles
GAINESVILLE -- North Hall football has never won a road playoff game.

Ringgold football has never won a state tournament contest, period.

Something has to give on Friday night in Ringgold -- and it is shaping up to be an intense battle between the Trojans and Tigers, who are eager to put an end to two unwanted streaks.

"It's a challenge, but we just throw it out to the players and let them deal with it," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. "They know about it and want to do something about it."

North Hall is 12-8 in the postseason during Christmas' previous 12 seasons -- including last year's Class AAA semifinal appearance (one of two semifinal charges under Christmas), and the Trojans know what to expect now that each game is an elimination situation.

"The kids are excited, and they know the season has started over," said Christmas, who adds that his staff changes nothing for the postseason compared to the regular season. "We treat the playoffs just like the first day of practice."

And you can expect the Trojans to treat Friday night's Class AAA showdown just like a regular season game -- meaning North Hall will stick with a power ground game that is churning out 362.7 rush yards per contest.

That said the Trojans know they will have to earn every yard.

"Ringgold is a very, very good team," Christmas said. "They've got a big defensive front, a very aggressive and athletic group of linebackers and an athletic group in the secondary. I've been very impressed by what I've seen on film."

And what Ringgold may lack in postseason experience -- this will be the Tigers' fourth ever state playoff game -- they more than make up for with ability.

"We've got to win the battle up front," Christmas said. "They've got two big, strong lines of scrimmage. Of course I feel like that's our strength too."

Tigers coach Robert Akins -- who led Ringgold to a 6-5 record and first round loss at North Oconee last season -- is also expecting a grinding, physical battle.

"We're a lot alike," Akins said. "The offensive and defensive line battles will tell a lot in this game."

To that end, North Hall's offensive line will certainly be aware of Ringgold defensive end Zach Morris. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior has registered 10.5 sacks and forced four fumbles so far this season and is garnering interest from programs such as Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee. The Tigers also feature linebacker Dakota Baer with a team-high 81 tackles on a defense allowing just 148.5 rush yards and 16.1 points per game.

Meanwhile, Ringgold's offense relies on senior quarterback Slade Bell, who is committed to Georgia as a standout second baseman.

Bell is just as much of a handful on the gridiron, however, leading Ringgold with 1,035 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. A true dual-threat, Bell has also passed for 1,443 yards and 14 TDs against 7 interceptions while completing just over 55 percent of his passes.

"Their quarterback is exceptional; he's a game-changer," Christmas said of Bell. "They line up in the shotgun and run and throw out of it, and their skill people do a good job."

That includes running backs Kile Sholl (637 yards rushing, 9 TDs) and DL Goins (486 yards, 10 TDs). Sholl is also the team's leading receiver with 33 catches for 546 yards and 5 TDs, though Bell has completed scoring passes to seven different receivers this season.

And North Hall's defense, which is allowing just over 258.4 yards and 19 points per game will look to slow a Ringgold attack averaging just over 400 yards and 37.3 points per game.

Something has to give.

Akins believes the difference will come in mistakes -- such as penalties and turnovers.

"The team that has the fewest mistakes will probably win this game," Akins said.

With that in mind, North Hall is glad it has played a brutal schedule that includes contests against five different playoff teams
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 1 year ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 1 year ago )
High School Sports
Snelling to make curtain call at East-West Classic (Video)
Ask Walt Snelling about Gainesville football and you will be supplied with a litany of great players and games from a program with an illustrious history.
7:33PM ( 1 year ago )
High School football 2013: Superlatives abound after another special season
After letting it soak in for a few days we
7:42PM ( 1 year ago )
Friday Game Night
Surprising Tigers looking to take early lead in 7-AAA
Sid Maxwell admitted he wasn’t sure what he was getting into when he decided to take the Dawson County job back in the spring.
8:02PM ( 25 minutes from now )
Falcons downplay White's complaints about lack of passes
Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White skipped practice Wednesday for an undisclosed personal matter, while the team addressed concerns that he's not happy with a diminished role in the offense.
By The Associated Press
8:42AM ( 10 hours ago )
VIDEO: Kevin Harvick, Regan Smith tame the 'Monster Mile'
If there's one thing the NASCAR world should know by now, it's that Kevin Harvick is hard to beat when he's in a must win situation.
8:00AM ( 11 hours ago )
Tennessee dismisses WR Pig Howard ahead of facing UGA
Tennessee wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard has been dismissed from the team for a violation of unspecified team rules.
By The Associated Press
5:48AM ( 13 hours ago )
Cross country: Johnson boys, North Hall girls claim Hall County titles
Johnson’s boys took first place individually and as a team, while North Hall’s girls did the same on Wednesday at the Hall County Cross County Championships at Chestatee High in Gainesville.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:12AM ( 19 hours ago )