50-in-50: North Hall

The last time North Hall was in this situation they wound up in the state semifinals.

The Trojans return a strong, experienced class of players from last year’s 11-3 team. There will be 23 seniors on the North Hall team this fall, which makes heightens expectations. The same scenario – plenty of experienced juniors coming back – led to North Hall going 13-1 before losing to Cairo in the Georgia Dome.

The same situation could be brewing again in 2013.

“This may be the most experience team we’ve had since that 2007 team,” coach Bob Christmas said. “We went to the Final Four with that team. Last year we played a bunch of kids. We could easily line up and have kids at every position that lettered last year.”

North Hall is one of the few remaining teams in the state that runs the wishbone and ran for nearly 4,700 yards last season. The backfield is led by quarterback Andrew Smith, who split time at quarterback with Brad Brown. Smith ran for 605 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

The backfield lost halfbacks T.J. Tate (1,174 yards) and Kevin Christmas (1,065 yards) , but there are four who played a lot, including Zac Little (551 yards, seven TDs). Fullbacks Destin Bennett (160 yards) and David Epps (129 yards) are both returning.

“I’m excited about the stable of running backs we’ve got,” Christmas said. “We’ve got a lot of depth in the backfield and we’re big up front. I’d say that’s the strength of our team.”

The offensive line is big an athletic. Returning starters are Thomas Marchman (6-4, 260), Justin Bacus (6-2, 290), Russell Gillespie (6-3, 300) and Dylan Truelove (6-2, 260).

“It’s the biggest line we’ve had at North Hall,” Christmas said. “The kids aren’t just big, but they’re athletic, too.”

The defense is led by Will Cape and Smith, who as first-team all-state a year ago.

“We’re two-deep with the front three in our 30 scheme,” Christmas said. “We may be two-platoon, but we want to know we can put our best players out there when we need to.”

A year ago the North Hall offense got a lot of attention. That’s not difficult when you score 426 points during the regular season. It also obscured the success of the defense, which began to hit its stride about the middle of the season. In fact, only one team scored more than 10 points against the Trojans in the second half of the season.

“We changed from an even to an odd front and they learned as we were going,” Christmas said. “By the time the playoffs rolled around we we’re playing really well on defense.”

North Hall Trojans

2012 record: 11-3, 6-1 in Region 7-AAA, lost in semifinals to St. Pius

Starters returning: 7 offense, 9 defense

Key players lost: OL Avery Easton, HB T.J. Tate, HB Kevin Christmas

Key players returning: HB/DB Andrew Smith, OL Thomas Marchman, LB Zach Little,

Schedule: Aug. 30 Chestatee, Sept. 6 at Johnson, Sept. 13 at Jefferson, Sept. 27 Dawson County, Oct. 4 East Hall, Oct. 11 at Fannin County, Oct. 18 at White County, Oct. 25 West Hall, Nov. 1 at Banks County, Nov. 8 Buford

Outlook: The Trojans have plenty of important players coming back on both sides of the ball. This should be another strong playoff team. However, the elephant in the room is Buford. North Hall must find a way to beat the mighty Wolves if they want to hoist at trophy at the Georgia Dome.


21 comments Add your comment

Metro Fan

May 22nd, 2013
9:37 am

All the athletes in Hall County go to Gainesville… No one wants to play in an antiquated offense.


May 22nd, 2013
2:14 pm

All of the athletes that live in the Nort Hall district go to North Hall. They can’t take anymore, because unlike Gainesville they can’t enroll kids that live outside their district. North Hall will make a run this year. How far remains to be seen.

Region 7-AAA

May 22nd, 2013
2:55 pm

I’m thinking North Hall will take a 9-1 record in the regular season and probably go just as deep in the playoffs as last year. Who knows, maybe even a Dome appearance.

NTH Trojans

May 22nd, 2013
5:36 pm

Hey Metro Fan, why don’t you come tell that to North Hall who scored 535 points in 14 games last season. If you knew anything, you’d know that an antiquated offensive or defensive formation is just the thing a team with the right people need to be successful. I’m not exactly sure who else uses the Wishbone in the state (someone, let me know) but it plays into North Hall’s advantage because nobody that plays North Hall has seen it before. You can try and prepare on the scout team all week long but you won’t see it at game speed until kickoff and with the size of North Hall’s O-Line, it’s a pain to stop them.


May 22nd, 2013
7:01 pm

Thomas County Central runs the wish bone most of the time behind QB Adam Choice.

NTH Trojans

May 22nd, 2013
8:09 pm

Gamer … That’s right, I remember seeing TCC on Play On Sports one week running it. They looked to be more in favor of the spread option wishbone rather than a double tight like North Hall uses. Still an effective way to run that offense nonetheless.

Old Golden Lion

May 22nd, 2013
10:27 pm

Hey Metro Fan there is nothing wrong with running the option !
North Hall has a good thing going winning games making the playoffs. Why change?
They are growing and they will get some more talent which means even more winning. Not all the talent is leaving for the city schools up there. They do have some big boys playing up there.
I would imagine they will be AAAA soon due to enrollment. Oh by the way good luck in baseball in the finals !


May 23rd, 2013
4:12 am

@LakeDawg lets not act like TJ Pitts, Imani Cross, the Curry brothers, and others havent been transfers…


May 23rd, 2013
6:49 am

Statesboro runs the bone. Three yards and a cloud of dust. You know whats coming next just stop it.

1 Trick Pony

May 23rd, 2013
7:09 am

No matter what, whoever plays against North Hall, you’d better be ready to get hit in the mouth for four quarters. I’m not too crazy about the wishbone either, especially if the team falls behind late, but whatever works for them. Good luck Trojans in 7AAA.

Metro Fan

May 23rd, 2013
8:04 am

Wings and bones and other such chicanery… Deshaun Watson, Cole Garvin, and just about any kid under center in Gwinnett County will light you up if you aren’t ready to play real football with run/pass reads and drops to defend the entire field. Such 1930s nonsense is not only outdated, it doesn’t get kids ready to play at the next level. Hybrid Wing-T offenses like Tucker, Camden, and Grayson or spread option teams stand a much better chance, and I agree that rural programs and private schools strapped for athletes demonstrate the wisdom of their coaching staffs in tailoring schemes to mask their personnel deficiencies. Some of these teams might as well play with the oversized ball from the leather helmet era, though!


May 23rd, 2013
8:28 am

the bone might be simple, but it’s a grinding offense. imagine being a DE or OLB and having the same play run at you 2O times from a FB who all he wants to is to hit you. the bone the split back veer that, TCC runs, is meant to wear you down. Both statesboro and tcc have storied programs running these vanilla offenses, but hey it works. how many state titles does the boro and tcc have running these offenses. A LOT!! those offenses teach discipline. good job N. Hall kids and coaches. keep wearing them down.


May 23rd, 2013
9:52 am

Hey Metro you may want to ask powerhouse Peach and uptown school Woodward how it worked out for them. NH is a small AAA school, to say that AAAAA and AAAAAA a schools could beat them is kinda like comparing apples to …..fish.

My Two Cents

May 23rd, 2013
10:04 am

The truth is that there are very few teams who can execute a pass-oriented offense efficiently for an entire game. Requires an excellent quarterback and receivers who catch the ball under pressure — and for most high schools, the teams cannot sustain long drives depending just on the pass. Sure there are exceptions — Gainesville now and Chattahoochee a few years ago — but those are just exceptions. Many of the state’s best teams year after year are run-first teams — Tucker, Northside, Marist, Buford, Ridgeland, St. Pius, etc. North Hall has some big boys on the line, and they are going to wear out teams.


May 23rd, 2013
11:26 am

My Two Cents …. good call on the excellent quarterback and receivers… I agree. For proof that Mr. Watson is a D-II quarterback AT BEST, all you have to do is go back to the West Forsyth game last year. OUCH!! I wouldn’t wish bad on anyone, but he’s in for a hurtin’ at Clemson or any D-I school for that matter….and thats assuming he gets to play at all.
P.S. One thing the article seemed to miss is NHHS’ senior receiver. All I will say is watch out for #8. Just ask St. Pius’ D1 defensive back about him. Last year he AVERAGED 30.9 yards per reception.


May 23rd, 2013
11:48 am

Fatherof Two, I wouldn’t say Watson is a DII quarterback. He is definitely a D-1 or he has all the prognosticators fooled. He’s the #1 rated HS QB in GA AND the US per rivals.com That said, I didn’t think he was the best QB Buford played last year. Any team should run the offense that’s best suited for their personnel. I think NH does that. Remember however, defense wins championships. Expect another deep run by this Senior bunch at NH. Metro Fan must be jealous, NH beat their team.


May 23rd, 2013
12:18 pm

BWolves…like I mentioned, from what I can tell, he may actually have everyone fooled. That being said, speed kills and strength punishes and he has a little of both…..if he makes it to a D1 school, I wish him the very best. I hope he blows everyone’s doors off and sets record after record. That way he can represent, not only Gainesville, but Hall County in general. You’re right….defense wins championships. I played for Dickey May back in the 90’s at Central Gwinnet HS and I am well aware of his passion for the game and for his talents at preparing kids to play under the Friday night lights. Buford will be a formidable opponent for sure, but as they say, coaches dont play the game…..may the best team win on Nov 8th at the Brickyard. Good luck on the rest of your season as well….we do hope you are undefeated when we meet so the victory is that much sweeter. :)


May 23rd, 2013
1:54 pm

funny. its not even the true wishbone. coach christmas ran the wing t for years and the offense looks like it. They run wing t belly to the fb. They also run it to the hb. They run double dive off both those actions and the run a trap off that action which is sweet. They run down with the hb and qb.

Very smart group of coaches and great use of personnel.


May 24th, 2013
6:36 pm

“@LakeDawg lets not act like TJ Pitts, Imani Cross, the Curry brothers, and others havent been transfers…”

that’s a completely different topic. BTW NTH had their worst teams of the Christmas era with Cross, and the Curry brothers. No transfers since then….AND…they lived in the NTH district when they played at NTH. Now go work on your reading comprehension and try not to be so jealous of North Hall.

Region 7-AAA

May 26th, 2013
12:50 am

The only reason those Curry boys were at North Hall was because their dad was brought onto the coaching staff. They didn’t contribute much at all that I can remember and as far as Cross goes, if it wasn’t for him North Hall probably would have lost 4 or 5 more games over that two year span than they did. So I’ll at least give him that.

North Hall Trojans

May 29th, 2013
7:22 am

Gonna go ahead and toss out my AAA Final 4 prediction for this season.

The same as last year; Buford, Cartersville, North Hall & St Pius.

All have loads of talent coming back. North Hall returns 16 starters from last years 11-3 team, including 4 of the 5 starting offensive linemen and some good rushers. That ol Wishbone should rush for every bit of 4700+ for North Hall the same as last year.