GAINESVILLE — It has become a weekly occurrence for the North Hall football team, and coach David Bishop is just trying to take things in stride.
“Counting our scrimmage game, we’ve played six games this year and we have lost at least one or two players to injury in every game,” Bishop said. “But all you can do is just move the next guy into that spot and keep going. I think our guys have done a good job considering how many guys we’ve had to move around.”
So far, the Trojans (3-2, 1-0 Region 7-3A) have been able to navigate their way through those unpredictable waters, including a solid 42-14 win over Cherokee Bluff in last week’s region opener.
But on Friday comes their biggest test of the season as they travel to No. 4 Greater Atlanta Christian (4-1, 1-0 Region 7-3A). The Spartans have never lost a Region 7-3A game since joining the region in 2016 -- a perfect 19-0 after last week’s 49-7 win over East Hall -- and has been dominant in the process. They have outscored the entire region 880-188 in those 19 games.
GAC coach Tim Hardy said they don’t focus on the streak and treat everyone on their schedule the same.
“We try to have consistency in the process and I think that has had a lot to do with it,” Hardy said. “But a lot of the kids on this team weren’t on the other teams so this group isn’t (19-0). We don’t take anyone for granted no matter what their record is.
“What I like about this region is that in every town football matters and the atmosphere is always big. That makes it a lot of fun every week in this region.”
Even at full strength Bishop and the Trojans understand the obstacles ahead. However, despite all the injuries and some major shuffling of the lineups, the Trojans have allowed just 86 points (17.2 ppg) in 2019. The offense had its biggest output of the season last week.
“The challenge every week has been trying to see who we can put where,” Bishop said. “A lot of our spots we use two and even three guys rotating as much as we can so when we lose a No. 1 guy, let's say, we still have guys at the position who are where they’ve been all along. It’s just that now if we lose another guy we have to start shifting and moving guys and that’s where the issues come in.
“But GAC is a talented team across the board. Even if we had everyone at 100 percent it would be a big challenge. But we also feel we have some things we can be successful with against them.”
The Trojans’ patented wing-T offense could be just the thing. The 42 points against Cherokee Bluff was a season-high and they piled up just under 400 yards for the game, although most of that came over the final three quarters after a sloppy start.
North Hall had three turnovers in its first nine plays against the Bears before settling down.
However, Hardy said the wing-T is always an X-factor when they play North hall.
“That’s a tough offense to be able to teach to 16- to 18-year old kids who may not have seen it and played against it,” Hardy said. “You can’t simulate it in practice if you don’t run it and that also makes it tough. North Hall does a great job with it and I’m sure it will be a big challenge for our defense.”
“Our (offensive) line has played pretty well most of the season but we can’t turn the ball over like that against GAC and have a chance,” Bishop said. “When we execute, we feel comfortable with our ability to run the ball. But we haven’t had a clean game yet this season. We may have to throw it a little more this week but we feel good about being able to do that.”
But no matter who takes the field and in what position, Bishop stated the goal is always the same, no matter the opponent.
“To win the game,” he said. “We can’t worry about who we have or don’t have out on the field. The guys who have gotten to play more than we anticipated have been improving and we’re building some depth at the same time.
“But in the end, we want to make the playoffs and to do that you have to win games. You can’t get in (the playoffs) if you don’t win so we’re just going to try and find any way we can to go down there and get a win.”
NORTH HALL at GREATER ATLANTA CHRISTIAN
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Spartans Sports Complex, Norcross
-- RADIO: WDUN FM 102.9
-- NORTH HALL (3-2, 1-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Cherokee Bluff 42-14 last week
-- GREATER ATLANTA CHRISTIAN (4-1, 1-0 Region 7-3A): Ranked No. 4 in Class 3A; defeated East Hall 49-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: GAC leads series 3-0. The Spartans won 21-0 in 2018 in Gainesville. The Trojans played GAC tough last season trailing just 7-0 early in the fourth quarter. ... Only one team, Lumpkin County (21) in 2016, has scored more than 20 in any game against the Spartans in region play. ... Until last week’s outburst, the Trojans were averaging just 21 ppg in an offense that scored 504 points (42 ppg) in 2018.