Here's a look at five things we learned from area teams after week 2 of the high school football season...
1. Buford's defense could be the best in the state
Anyone who watched Friday's game between defending state champs at City Park could not have helped but walk away floored by just how good the Wolves are. Buford wowed fans with both dominating offense and defense in a 38-14 win over Gainesville, but it was the Wolves' defense that made, perhaps, the biggest impression. Buford swarmed all over the Red Elephants' spread attack, allowing quarterback Deshaun Watson almost no time to look downfield and Gainesville's backs and receivers little room to maneuver when they did get the ball. Buford was both fast and physical, arriving at the ball with a nasty attitude. And beyond the eye test there was this: the Wolves held Gainesville to its lowest point total since 2009. The Red Elephants' offense will bounce back -- and probably will so with a vengeance -- and it speaks volumes that Buford was able to hold such a potent unit in check.
2. Chestatee has plenty of guts -- and so do the Spartans
Chestatee needed a bounce back in the worst way, and West Hall was looking for a second signature win in as many games this season. Incredibly the difference between the two outcomes proved a couple of feet on Friday. The War Eagles and Spartans slugged it out for 48 minutes and each showed they were worthy of the victory -- as well as showing incredible fortitude during the contest. Chestatee got the win by converting a 2-point conversion that proved the difference -- a confident call from the War Eagles' coaching staff in a 15-14 win. It was the kind of move that could bring big payoffs down the road, as coaching staff and players build off the mutual confidence and momentum of the win. Yet, West Hall can, and should, take plenty even in the loss -- knowing that a last-second field goal so nearly gave the visitors the victory. After an emotional week for the program the Spartans so nearly opened 2-0 for the first time since 2010 and showed that they are continuing to take big steps forward in the second year under coach Tony Lotti.
3. Starting soon, Region 7-AAA is going to be a war
We already know how well Buford and North Hall have played -- both last season and so far this campaign -- but the rest of Region 7-AAA could be that much tougher this season. And the race for the playoffs in said league could prove a downright war of attrition. White County rolled for the second straight game last week, while Fannin County's offense showed it is ready for prime time in a shootout victory over Union County. East Hall has showed flashes of explosiveness, while Dawson County's only loss so far has come against a rebounding Class AAAAAA North Forsyth. And, as previously mentioned, West Hall will be no slouch. The region schedule takes another step this week, an intriguing showdown between White County and Fannin County, while the rest of the league waits one more week for the league-wide race to the finish begins.
4. Jason Galt has already instilled plenty of toughness at North Forsyth
Coming into the season, North Forsyth had not pitched a shutout since 2010. Now the Raiders have forced opposing offenses into back-to-back goose eggs. North Forsyth has won two straight contests 31-0 and is playing with a tough-minded, physical style not seen in some time around Coal Mountain. And coach Jason Galt is only preparing for his third game in charge. That's not to say there won't be growing pains or that the Raiders are a lock for the playoffs -- which is what happened the last time North Forsyth blanked two foes in a campaign -- we're simply saying that things are looking up pretty quickly at Raider Valley. And that in of itself is impressive.
5. Jefferson may actually be tougher to stop this year
Last week it was obvious that the defending Class AA champs had a new potential star at quarterback in Evan Shirreffs. This week, the Dragons are coming off another lopsided win that showed just how versatile they can be. Jefferson rolled up 433 yards in the win, including 297 rushing -- led by Tristen Jackson (138 yards and a touchdown) and Isaiah Blake (102 yards, 3 TDs). Shirreffs also did his damage with 136 yards passing and a touchdown, while the Jefferson defense yielded a paltry 91 total yards against Jackson County. Now -- before anyone gets too carried away -- we're not saying Jefferson is better this year than last year's title-winning team. BUT the Dragons could, in fact, be more versatile, with more weapons to choose from. Those weapons will face their toughest test of the season -- by far -- this Friday against equally-explosive North Hall, and we can't wait to see how the match-up plays out.
AREA FOOTBALL FINALS, SEPT. 6
Athens Christian 38, Banks County 7
Buford 38, Gainesville 14
Chestatee 15, West Hall 14
Commerce 19, East Jackson 7
Fannin County 43, Union County 35
Fellowship Christian School 49, Towns County 14
Greater Atlanta Christian 56, Apalachee 14
Hebron Christian 23, Lakeview Academy 7
Jefferson 49, Jackson County 0
Mill Creek 44, Brookwood 10
Monroe Area 40, Winder-Barrow 14
North Forsyth 31, Dawson County 0
North Hall 63, Johnson 6
Rabun County 55, Hayesville, N.C. 7
Stephens County 49, Habersham Central 14
West Forsyth 35, Flowery Branch 21
White County 31, Lumpkin County 0
Whitefield Academy 26, Riverside Military 24
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR SEPT. 13
Cedar Shoals at Flowery Branch
Commerce at Banks County
East Hall at East Jackson
Fannin County at White County
Forsyth Central at Dawson County
Georgia Military at Riverside Military
Habersham Central at Collins Hill
Hancock Central at Buford
Hart County at Stephens County
Jackson County at Athens Christian
Johnson at North Murray
Lanier at Franklin County
Mill Creek at Mountain View
North Forsyth at Cherokee
North Gwinnett at Norcross
North Hall at Jefferson
Rabun County at Towns County
Union County At Andrews, N.C.
West Hall at Lumpkin County
Winder-Barrow at Gainesville