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Player of the week: Kanler Coker

Quarterback accounted for 6 total touchdowns in Flowery Branch's 56-31 win over Habersham Central

POSTED: October 10, 2011 9:55 p.m.


In the second quarter on Friday, Flowery Branch quarterback Kanler Coker was like a broken record.

Run, pass, repeat.

And Habersham Central didn’t have an answer for it.

Coker ran for a touchdown and passed for four more in the second quarter alone. Including an earlier touchdown pass in the first quarter, he accounted for six in the game, leading the Falcons to a 56-31 win over their Region 8-AAAA foes.

Not bad for a quarterback who had never run the spread offense before this season.

As a quarterback at North Hall in 2010, Coker’s passing opportunities in a run-first offense were limited.

But Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said that the quarterback is flourishing with the Falcons (6-0, 6-0 8-AAAA) in a system that fits his talents well.

“This is only his sixth game as a spread quarterback,” Shaw said. “Every game, he’s gotten better and understands his strengths and weaknesses a little better. He’s done a great job of orchestrating that offense.”

A “great job” could be considered an understatement considering his performance Friday.

He finished 10 of 16 for 243 yards and five scores through the air to go with 89 yards and a touchdown running.

For his efforts, he has been named The Times High School Football Player of the Week.

Coker said his success against Habersham Central was a direct result of his offense’s preparation.

“We had two weeks to prepare,” he said. “I had been watching a lot of film, so that definitely helped.

But Shaw said that this type of performance is nothing new to him.

“Kanler’s been consistently productive all year,” he said. “He’s such a good dual-threat quarterback. He can hurt you in so many ways.”

At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Coker is already an imposing presence under center. When you add his superior athletic ability, Shaw said, he becomes an incredibly difficult force to defend.

“He’s 6-4, he can run, he can jump and he can pass the football,” he said. “He’s just an incredibly athletic individual.”

While the athleticism was obviously there, going to a new school and leading a new team is never an easy task.

Coker has not taken over as the vocal lead of the team, according to Shaw, but he has nonetheless earned the respect of the locker room by the way he carries himself on and off the field.

“He’s not a real vocal leader, really,” Shaw said. “It’s difficult to be a leader in your first year. But he’s done a great job of being humble, leading others by example and talking when he needs to.”

The coaches have such confidence in his leadership and decision-making that he is given a good amount of freedom on the field.

He has ‘100 percent leeway’ to check in and out of plays on the field, Shaw said.

Shaw added that his job as a coach is to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. It works out well that one of his biggest playmakers touches the ball on every snap.

“He does a great job of distributing the football,” Shaw said. “When people double one receiver, he can find the other guys. We’re very confident in his ability to make decisions throughout the game.”

Coker still sees room for improvement in this area, however.

“I’ve got to start seeing stuff a little better,” he said. “There’s some stuff I miss every week, and I just have to keep getting better.”

As coach of the Falcons, Shaw has seen some talented quarterbacks come through the school, including his sons, Jaybo Shaw, quarterback of Georgia Southern, the top-ranked FCS team, and Connor Shaw, who experienced a break-out day for the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.

But Lee Shaw said he thinks that Coker may have what it takes to be mentioned in that same group of athletes.

“We’ve had some guys come through here that have been really good and have gone on to do some good things at the next level,” he said. “I think Kanler Coker could be right there in that group of players that we see playing on Saturdays at some point. He’s got tremendous upside. He’s coachable, brings confidence and composure and all those other buzz words.

“The sky is the limit.”



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