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Flowery Branch faces enormous challenge in Week 1 foe Northside-Warner Robins

POSTED: August 29, 2013 11:46 p.m.

For Flowery Branch, tonight’s game at second-ranked Northside-Warner Robins is more than a season opener.

If anything, tonight is an opportunity to redeem a 38-point blowout loss to the Eagles a season ago, while proving to a different region of the state that its a serious threat in Class AAAAA this season.

“The thing about high school football (is) the turnover you got with your kids, and while we do have some guys from last year’s team, this is a different team,” Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin said. “Even though we have some of the same guys, this team takes on its own personality. We looked at some things we didn’t do well (last year) and some things we did do well, and we dealt with those type of things.”

Tonight’s game features two teams ranked inside the top 10 of the Georgia Sportswriters Association Prep Football Poll and will be held at McConnell-Talbert Stadium, a massive venue in Warner Robins that can accommodate more than 10,000 spectators.

The Falcons will leave for the game today at 1 p.m. on charter buses, giving them ample time to rest and eat before kickoff. Once on the field, the Falcons are expecting a fight against one of the top teams in the state.

“They’re very traditional. They’re the typical Northside,” Griffin said. “They’re very big on the offensive line, very athletic everywhere else. They are not very complicated.

“It is very typical. I don’t see anything that I don’t think we can’t predict. We understand where they are going to line up and we understand what they are wanting to do. But, athletically and physically, they are a good-looking bunch of kids.”

Flowery Branch returns nine starters (six on offense) from last year’s team, while Northside returns just eight (four on offense). One player that is returning for Flowery Branch is senior quarterback Jackson McDonald, a dual-threat committed to James Madison University, who will play a rather large role for making sure the Falcons stick to their game plan tonight.

“A guy like Jackson, you just tell him to be himself,” Griffin said.

“He doesn’t need to be more than he is capable of being. ... I just need him to manage the game.”

The Falcons are ranked ninth in the state, a preseason placement that is largely based on last year’s 8-3 record and Region 8-AAAAA title.

Northside opens the season ranked second after finishing the 2012 season with a 13-1 record. The only blemish came in the state semifinals in the form of an overtime loss to state runner-up Ware County.

The Eagles, who won the 2006 and 2007 state championships in Class AAAA, lost a large senior class from last season, but return a few playmakers.

Glenn Smith, the Eagles’ quarterback last season, will play multiple positions this season, including wide receiver, running back and backup quarterback.


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