The North Hall Trojans finally finished a game with a win, but the Fannin Rebels didn’t make it easy for them. Friday night’s game in Gainesville was anything but a walk in the park for either team, as both defenses fought to the final whistle. A relatively low-scoring affair, the scoreboard read 13-0 as the Rebels met the Trojans midfield to shake hands before hustling to the end zone for their post-game meeting with Fannin County High School head coach Jim Pavao.
“I’m proud of the effort,” Pavao told the team, who were clearly discouraged with the final score. “We have some things to work on, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve gotta move on. We win as a team and we lose as a team; but what matters most is we stick together.”
North Hall entered the contest with a winless record of 0-4, but everyone familiar with their schedule knew they were much better than their record showed. They had arguably the toughest non-region schedule in the state. With losses to 4A Chestatee and 5A Flowery Branch – not to mention very close games against 4A schools Pickens and White – the Trojans were due a victory.
The Rebels were coming off a shutout win over Andrews, and hoped to win their region-opener on the road; but the Rebels have struggled to reach the end zone outside of Fannin County.
Despite the loss, Fannin came away with some much needed answers to some questions they may have had going into the game.
- They can run with just about anyone defensively. North Hall has a dual-threat backfield with a very skilled quarterback and a tough-as-nails tailback, but for the most part the Rebels defense kept them contained for 60 minutes of play.
- Chandler Smith at quarterback is a good decision. We still don’t have offensive stats for him and it’s Wednesday morning, but he played a great game under center. He managed the offense, protected the football, and completed some accurate passes throughout the game. He just wasn’t able to get the ball into the end zone so the scoreboard could reflect his effort.
- Miles Johnson is a beast. Fannin County’s special teams came up with a big blocked field goal in the first half when the game was still scoreless, thanks to big Miles Johnson getting a paw on the football and slapping it to the turf. Keenan Putnam also had a blocked kick in the game.
The defense is wrapping up and building confidence as they become more aggressive. Ethan Smith (21 tackles), Mason Rhodes (18 tackles, 2 sacks), Will Mosely (19 tackles), Bailey White (10 tackles), and Brett Galloway (9 tackles) all played a huge part in holding the Trojans to only 13 points offensively.
- The Rebels have depth when they need it. Keenan Putnam suffered a very painful collarbone injury (sources say it may be broken – unconfirmed), so fans got to see center Bradley Flowers fill in on the defensive line. With 22 starters on the team, few Rebels have had to play both sides of the ball this year; but Friday night’s game showed that if the linemen are conditioned enough to play both sides of the ball, Fannin may have other weapons available (should they need or choose to use them in the future).
North Hall travels to Dawson County this week to play the Tigers, who are 2-2 for the season. Both of Dawson’s losses were heartbreakers as they fell to AAAA-Region 7 schools West Hall (13-10) and White County (45-42).
Fannin County hosts Greater Atlanta Christian, whose only loss this year came at the hands of Valor Christian, the top-ranked football program in the state of Colorado. Last week the Spartans absolutely man-handled the Union County Panters in a 47-7 shellacking that left many of their starters on crutches.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.
What’s better than winning a shutout victory in high school football? Winning TWO shutout victories on your home turf.
The Fannin County High School varsity Rebels’ wins this season have something in common: both games were the result of lights-out performances by the defense. Grab a flashlight and an extra set of batteries as we take a moment to shed a little light on the subject.
It all started when the Rebels hosted the Gilmer Bobcats for their home opener on Friday, August 18 at Fannin County High School. The Rebels stunned the Cats as they rolled to a 42-0 blowout victory over their longtime rivals. After an extra week of preparation, Fannin took the show on the road only to find the price for minimal margin of error in a 31-0 loss to the Tigers, a score that certainly didn’t reflect the effort of the Rebels offense.
Another week on the road brought the Rebels to Chestatee High School to take on the War Eagles, a team well-known for their speed on the edges and a healthy ground attack at the hands (or legs) of their senior tailback (#4) Nick Lyles, who racked up 133 yards on 20 carries against the Rebels. Fannin moved the ball effectively, but was unable to score until running back Cody Jacobs (#15) covered the ball with two hands and barreled into the endzone behind his senior center Bradley Flowers. The defense gave up 31 in this game, but only a touchdown in each quarter and a fieldgoal in the fourth. As for the Rebels running attack, Jacobs actually out-performed Lyles in total yardage, amassing 160 yards on 28 carries (5.7 yards-per-carry), 34 yards receiving and a touchdown.
With two tough losses on the road, the Rebels finally came home to Blue Ridge, eagerly awaiting kickoff for their second home game of the season. You could literally feel the energy on the sidelines as the Fannin Blue Crew joined the student section, all decked out in black, following their planned “Black Out” theme for the game.
As the FCHS band entered the stadium, marching to the beat of the Rebel drumline and percussion; the Fannin team captains stepped out of the fieldhouse and met at the end of the building for a moment of silence – and prayer – before meeting the Andrews captains and GHSA officials at midfield. The head referee explained the coin toss to the teams, allowed Andrews to call it in the air, and after winning the toss they elected to defer possession until the second half. The Rebels chose to receive the ball first and as quickly as the team burst through the Fannin Rebels banner to take the field; this game was underway.
The Rebels offensive game plan worked pretty well. “We want to establish the run game and then pass the ball when we want to pass it – not when we need to, but when we want to,” FCHS Offensive Coordinator Travis Earls told TeamFYNSports during the Rebel Wrap-Up show on FYNTV.com (Wednesday @ 7:00pm).
The offensive line for the Rebels handled the dirty work up front, creating lanes for Jacobs (#15), Trenton Pickering (#4) and Smith (#6) to follow on each carry. When Earls and Pavao saw an opportunity in the secondary, Smith was able to sit in the pocket and toss strikes out to his receivers at will. Fannin struggled a bit in the red zone early on, but Dawson King (#30) was able to kick field goals to put points on the board. As the Rebels began to reach paydirt, it was the crowd favorite Sarah Sosebee (#86) who split the uprights for the PATs.
Defensively, everyone but the mascot got involved. Mason Rhodes had another busy night, recording 17 tackles and a sack. Brett Galloway also had a sack, along with seven tackles in the game. Cole Earls was yet another Rebel to sack the Andrews quarterback, and he also had seven tackles. Will Mosley, the ever-impressive freshman, tallied 13 tackles. He recorded one qb hurry, and his caused a fumble. Mosley was also selected this week as the TeamFYNSports Sportswriter Player of the Week for Fannin County. Bailey White, Jonah Henry, Ethan Smith and the big defensive lineman Clay Holloway each recorded five tackles, and Holloway also had two big sacks in the game. Jackson Weeks had six tackles, one for a loss. Austin Brown had four tackles and he ripped the ball out of the air for the only interception in the game. Jakob Tuggle rounded out the stat sheet for the Rebels with one tackle in the game.
The Rebels return to the road this week, opening region play at North Hall on Friday, September 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm. North Hall (0-4) hasn’t won a game yet this season, but they’ve played well against some tough opponenets. They lost to Chestatee (42-12), who also defeated the Rebels (31-7). They were also shut out by Flowery Branch (38-0) before narrowly falling to Pickens (42-35) in one of the most exciting games of the year. Last week they came up short against White County (28-18). Fannin will look to hand the Trojans their fifth loss of the year, first in AAA Region 7.
More photos and sideline action may be found at www.facebook.com/TeamFYNSports
The Fannin County Rebels have had a rough couple of weeks. The season kicked off better than anyone could’ve hoped, as they completely dominated the rival Bobcats of Gilmer County in a complete shutout at Fannin County High School. After a week off, the Rebels returned to action on the road, facing the formidable Ringgold Tigers, where a few small mistakes resulted in their first loss of the season. Looking to rebound from the loss, the Fannin County coaches knew they’d need to address the speed of Chestatee’s runningback, as well as their ability to attack the edges of the field. Though the Rebels showed great heart throughout the game, and displayed moments of great athleticism and possibiity; the Chestatee War Eagles relied upon the speed of their tailback, and the ability of the quarterback to swing the ball sideline-to-sideline, as they handed Fannin County their second loss of the season.
As the team stepped onto the field to begin warming up, the fans filed into the massive concrete bleachers lining the northeast side of the football field. Unique to most gameplay environments, Chestatee’s stadium has only one set of bleachers, as the other side of the field slopes downhill and gives way to the school’s baseball park. The Fannin County Band filled the bleachers on the far end, along with the notorious “Blue Crew” student section. Fannin traveled well, filling another section with parents and FCHS alumni, nearly matching the turnout of the Chestatee fan and student sections.
Nearing sunset, the Fannin team captains met their opponents’ captains midfield for the coin toss. Chestatee won the toss and elected to kick to the Rebels. Fannin chose to defend the south-western end zone, as wind was not a factor but the sun would be at their backs for the first quarter. Moments later, the ball was sailing through the air toward Chestatee’s kickoff return team and the game was officially underway.
The War Eagles set out to spread the field and their quarterback worked to swing the ball out toward the sidelines, attacking the edges of the defense through the air. The Rebels defensive backs swarmed to the ball carrier with each pass, forcing the receivers out of bounds for minimal gains. When the Rebels seemingly anticipated the plays to the outside, the quarterback then spun and handed the ball to their star runningback, who darted between the guard and center, penetrating the heart of the defense. With each play, the Rebels fought to hold their ground, and they played with great poise.
As the ball was tossed to the outside, Fannin’s Austin Brown, Brett Galloway and Will Mosely punished the offense, racing to the ball and dragging the War Eagle player to the turf. When the backs tried to punch the ball up the middle, the defensive line closed the gaps that the War Eagles worked to create. The first seven minutes were truly a war of attrition, with the War Eagles eventually finding their way into the endzone with 7:15 remaining in the quarter. The tenacity shown by the Rebels left spectators feeling as though this game was far from over.
Following the PAT, the Rebels received the kickoff and struggled to get going offensively. After three downs and less than a minute of time run off the clock, the Rebels were forced to punt the ball from their own 23 yard line. The defense stood tall and held Chestatee to a 3-and-out and regained possession with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter. Determined to get something going, they kept the ball ont he ground with runs by Cody Jacobs (#15) and quarterback Tyler Norton (#1). The Chestatee defense keyed on the backfield and limited the Rebels ability to move the ball downfield.
With 1:48 remaining in the first quarter, the Rebels were forced to punt the ball once again, this time on a 4th-and-5 from their 34-yard line, taken by the War Eagles at their own 16. On the ensuing drive, sophomore linebacker Will Mosely (#35) attacked the gap the tailback was attempting to run through and with a thunderous hit the ball came loose and was
scooped up by senior defensive back Jonah Henry (#36), who took off sprinting toward paydirt. As he was tackled 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, officials whistled the play dead and ruled the runner’s knee was down before the ball came out, eliminating the take-away by the defense.
The aggressiveness of the defense prompted Chestatee to attempt a screen pass across the middle to the tight end, who slipped in behind the Rebels as they blitzed and showed pressure at the line of scrimmage. The TE sprinted 60-yards upfield toward the end zone, but Austin Brown (#82) refused to quit on the play; tackling the receiver inside then 10-yard line and forcing a fumble on the play. The Rebels recovered and set out to move the other direction, but a slippery defensive back spied Norton’s pass and pulled in a costly interception.
The War Eagles pitched the ball to their tailback on a sweep to the right and with a stiff-arm and a spin-move he trotted into the endzone for six; 13-0. The PAT was good and with 2:38 remaining in the half the Rebels were down by two touchdowns and began showing frustration.
“It’s okay, keep your heads up,” FCHS head coach James Pavao shouted at his team as they came off the field.
Content on going to the locker room to regroup, the Rebels kept the ball on the ground and ran the clock.
The second half saw a change at the quarterback position, with similar struggles both offensively and defensively. Chestatee once again found the endzone in the third quarter, but only led 21-0 going into the fourth. Fannin finally caught a couple of breaks offensively, with a couple of huge runs by Cody Jacobs and a beautiful catch in the open field by Luke Cowart (#85). The Rebels offensive line, led by center Bradley Flowers (#66), pushed the War Eagles back into their end zone and from one yard out senior quarterback Chandler Smith (#6) barelled across the goalline for the first touchdown of the game for Fannin. It would prove to be their only score of the game, but it was well-deserved as they had come so close and moved the ball so well throughout the night.
From there, the War Eagles controlled the clock and put 10 more points on the board through a touchdown, PAT and field goal; defeating the Rebels by a final score of 31-7.
This week Fannin hosts Andrews, NC and looks to improve their record to 2-2 before opening Region 7-AAA play at North Hall next week. The Trojans narrowly lost to Pickens County last week.
The #TeamFYNSports sportswriter Player of the Week for week 3 is Fannin Rebel Senior Austin Brown. Brown is listed as a defensive back and wide receiver for the Rebels, and showed great tenacity in Friday night’s game at Chestatee High School. As the Rebel defense pressured the War Eagles’ backfield, a receiver broke free in the center of the field and caught what was certain to be a touchdown pass. Many would have given up on the play, but Brown sprinted across the field and chased the ball carrier 60 yards, forcing a fumble inside the Fannin 5-yard line. Catch Brown and his teammates this Friday at Fannin County High School as the Rebels host Andrews, NC and look to improve their record before region play begins.