For the third consecutive year, the Flowery Branch football began its season with a dominating victory.
It was smooth sailing from the beginning for the Falcons, as the team scored touchdowns on all six of its first-half possessions en route to a 50-0 victory over East Hall at Falcons Stadium.
Flowery Branch was led by the running back tandem of Jaizen Ellingham and Chase Dial-Watson, who combined to rush for 148 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries.
“My mindset before the game was play as hard as I can,” Ellingham said. “Play like they’re the best team out there. I gave it all I’ve got, played as hard as I could and came out with a good outcome.”
The Falcons were just as dominant defensively, holding starting East Hall quarterback Clete Cooper to 10 of 23 passing for 78 yards with a pair of first-half interceptions — though Vikings receiver Mon Prather did manage to come down with a pair of big receptions on the Vikings’ opening drive for 39 and 28 yards.
Flowery Branch jumped out to a 42-0 lead at halftime, before both teams subbed in backups as the Falcons cruised to the easy opening night victory.
Here are three takeaways from Friday night’s game.
Falcons dominate the ground
Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall wanted to establish dominance at the line of scrimmage early, and his players delivered. The Falcons ran the ball on 25 of 32 first-half plays, picking up chunk yardage with ease from the beginning and scoring at will on the Vikings.
Though starting running back Chandler White was limited to just four carries for 21 yards as he dealt with cramping, Hall said he was impressed with how Ellingham and Dial-Watson picked up the slack for their hurting teammate.
“They didn’t miss a beat,” Hall said. “The way they saw it was more carries for them.”
David Renard shows poise
Renard was thrust into the starting quarterback position for Flowery Branch with barely a week to go before the start of the season following an injury to starter Elijah Gainey, and he showed promise in his first action of 2019. Though he wasn’t asked to do much in the game, Renard capitalized on his chances, completing all five passes he attempted for 106 yards.
He also picked up a mishandled handoff attempt early in the second quarter and ran the ball in from 10 yards out for a score on the ground.
“He’s just a gamer,” Hall said of Renard. “He’s a player. He’s going to continue to get better and better.”
No fly zone
Flowery Branch blanketed most everything East Hall attempted to do offensively throughout the game, but the Falcons were particularly impressive locking things down through the air. After giving up 75 passing yards on the Vikings’ first drive of the game, Flowery Branch limited East Hall quarterbacks to 19 air yards, grabbing three interceptions and forcing an intentional grounding call in the end zone for a safety.
“We just settled down and played our game,” Hall said. “The secondary played great. They’ll continue to get better and better. We’ll build on this and be even better in Game 2.”