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FOOTBALL IN HALL 2019: Flowery Branch plans to compete for title in Region 7-4A
Flowery Branch adjusting since season-ending knee injury to senior quarterback Elijah Gainey
Flowery Branch
Flowery Branch football coach Ben Hall watches during its practice Aug. 1 in Flowery Branch.

Ben Hall is feeling good heading into his third year as head coach at Flowery Branch. He has an experienced team and a stout defense, which will help offset the loss of senior quarterback Elijah Gainey to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason scrimmage against Dacula on Aug. 16. 

“We like our group,” Hall said. “We’ve got a very coachable and trustworthy group of kids that have worked hard this summer to get better.”

Even with a tough schedule in Region 7-4A, Hall said his team is confident. They’re facing back-to-back games against Blessed Trinity and Marist this season, so things won’t be easy, but he said the team knows that and is prepared.

“I expect it to be a solid season,” Hall said. “They’re eager to get started and it’s going to be fun to watch how we develop as a team … There’s really no rest for the weary, so we’re going to have to bring it each week.”

Gainey’s ACL injury was on a non-contact play last week. In his place, sophomore David Renard has been named the starting quarterback by Hall. 

Five things to watch

Experience

This year’s Falcons team will be led by 20 seniors that Hall said are “a very mature group.” Senior Connor Mayfield at middle linebacker will be the voice for the defense, while Gainey will still be a big part of the program from the sideline and in practice as he helps lead Renard, along with the help of first-year quarterbacks coach Bruce Miller.

“We have an outstanding senior class,” Hall said. “Most of the 20 have Friday night experience … They offer great leadership on both sides of the ball, so we really like our group this year and our seniors definitely lead the way for us. We’re definitely going to lean on those guys this season for sure.”

The secondary is maybe the most experienced group on the field, though. Hall said they have senior safeties Chase and Chandler Dial-Watson, along with senior Grant Lackey who will bring strength. Seniors Taylor Reeves and Douglas Pena will keep things contained at corner.

“They’re an experienced bunch and they’re all seniors and any time your secondary is returning you should be in good shape defensively,” Hall said. “We feel like we’re going to be a pretty good defensive team this year, and those guys lead the way.”

Defensive line

If there’s a position that Hall is most focused on this season, it’s the defensive line. He said the rest of the defense is a steady group, but the defensive line isn’t as experienced as the rest.

“They’re getting better each day and we have some talent there,” Hall said. “We just don’t have a lot of game experience.”

He doesn’t want to confuse things by saying it’s the least talented group. It’s just the spot on the field with the least amount of time playing on Friday nights.

The defensive line will be anchored by senior Kolby Brookshire and junior Carlos Espinoza at tackle.

Hall said he’ll be rotating in three players — juniors Christian Johnson, Daiveyon Stephens and Clay Anderson — on the defensive line to add some depth.

Next man up at quarterback

Renard comes into the starting role with ample experience backing up Gainey in 2018. Renard split time with Gainey leading the first-team offense in the preseason game against Dacula. The new Falcons starting quarterback orchestrated a 75-yard scoring drive during the practice game. 

“David is a very intelligent player who has a calming presence in the huddle,” Hall said Monday. “Our kids are confident with him taking snaps.”

Chandler White

While junior tailback Jaizen Ellingham is back for Flowery Branch, the Falcons had a “pleasant surprise” who moved to the school from nearby Mill Creek. 

Senior Chandler White will be sharing duties with Ellingham after his family moved to the area last year.

“He’s a new addition to the program and he’s a good player,” Hall said. “Those two guys, they’ll get the majority of the reps at the tailback position.”

White joined the team for spring practices and has been with it the entire summer, so he’s getting acclimated to the style of play and building relationships with his teammates and coaches that will only help as the season progresses.

“Chandler White fits right in,” Hall said. “He runs hard, plays hard and he’s a good athlete. (He’s) a good-sized kid and plays like he’s always been here, so we’re really excited about Chandler and what he’s going to be bringing this fall.”

Offensive line

Hall is confident in his offensive line to be a steady group this season with three seniors and two juniors. 

“I look for this to be the most consistent that unit has been since we’ve been here,” Hall said. “It’s just a good group all around.”

Seniors Clayton Walczuk, Adarius Bailey and Dylan Bailey will lead the group, while juniors Cody Bradford and Daniel Tulk will fill in at tackle.

The offensive line isn’t just experienced with upperclassmen. It’s also deep. Hall said he’ll be rotating in seniors Lewis Costales and Chandler Kenney to give some of the starters a break throughout games.

Schedule

Friday EAST HALL

Sept. 6 at Clarke Central

Sept. 13 at Winder-Barrow

Sept. 27 GAINESVILLE

Oct. 4 WHITE COUNTY*

Oct. 11 at Chestatee*

Oct. 18 at Blessed Trinity*

Oct. 25 MARIST*

Nov. 1 WEST HALL*

Nov. 8 at Denmark

*region games

Roster

2. Connor Larson WR/DB Jr.

4. Jaizen Ellingham RB/LB Jr.

5. Chandler White RB/DB Sr.

6. Max Eubanks WR/DB Fr.

7. Douglas Pena WR/DB Sr.

8. Josh Barnett TE/DL Sr.

9. Rafay Choudhry DB Sr.

10. Baxley O’Brien TE/LB So.

11. Ryan Lusco WR/DB Jr.

12. David Renard QB/DB So.

14. Caden Pelham WR/DB Fr.

15. Grant Lackey WR/DB Sr.

16. Tre Augustine DB So.

17. Elijah Gainey QB Sr.

18. Brody Jordan QB Fr.

19. Owen Warbington WR/DB Sr.

20. Christian Johnson TE/LB Jr.

21. Taylor Reeves WR/DB Sr.

22. Jake Beaver RB/LB So.

23. Jaheim Hayes WR/DB So.

24. Zion Moon RB/DL Jr.

25. Nick Linkowski WR/DB So.

26. Chase Dial-Watson RB/DB Sr.

27. Myles Ivey RB/DB Fr.

28. Christian Mendoza FB/LB Fr.

29. Chandler Dial-Watson WR/DB Sr.

30. Daiveyon Stephens DL Jr.

31. Jake Kross WR/DB Fr.

32. Ben Brookshire RB/LB Fr.

33. PJ Stinger RB/DB So.

34. Luke Fisher WR/DB Jr.

35. Hunter Adams TE/LB Fr.

36. Lanier Jackson RB/DB Jr.

37. Mason Lackey RB/LB So.

38. Sam Tole WR/DB Fr.

39. Caleb Swift WR/DB Jr.

40. Connor Mayfield RB/LB Sr.

41. Ian Bergoschtje RB/LB So.

42. Jerzee Allentini RB/LB Jr.

43. Clay Anderson DL Jr.

44. Anthony Menjivar TE/DE Jr.

45. Chandler Mayfield TE/LB So.

46. Kadin Inman TE/DL So.

47. Carlos Espinoza RB/DL Jr.

48. Cal Rockenbach FB/LB Fr.

49. Brandon Shiloh RB/LB Fr.

50. Cole Pimentel OL/DL Jr.

51. Yolando Barrett OL/DL Fr.

52. Adarius Bailey OL/DL Sr.

53. Matthew Stowe OL/DL So.

54. Dylan Setzer OL/DL Fr.

55. Clayton Walczuk OL/DL Sr.

56. Dylan Costello OL/DL Fr.

57. Gavin Roberts OL/DL So.

58. Daniel Tulk OL/DL Jr.

59. Shaun Shockley OL/DL Fr.

60. Grant Underwood OL/DL Sr.

61. Jonathan Garrison OL/DL So.

62. Jason Dane Mosley OL/DL Fr.

63. Lewis Costales OL/DL Sr.

64. Chandler Kenney OL/DL Sr.

65. Nathan Fossali OL/DL Jr.

67. Cody Bradford OL/DL Jr.

69. Jerry Passmore OL/DL Sr.

71. Nate Scharmer OL/DL Fr.

72. Nathan Turner OL/DL Fr.

73. Max Woodford OL/DL Fr.

74. Dylan Bailey OL/DL Sr.

75. Will Brack OL/DL Jr.

76. John Sanchez OL/DL Fr.

77. Eric Garner OL/DL Fr.

78. Brice Deitz OL/DL Fr.

79. Luke Puckett OL/DL Fr.

80. John David Peacock TE/DE Fr.

81. Ethan King WR/DB So.

82. Drake Smitherman WR/DB Fr.

83. Emerson Watson TE/DL Fr.

84. Jacob Costello TE/LB So.

85. Brayden Jackson TE/LB Fr.

86. Sal Sengson TE/LB Jr.

87. Devin Maddox WR/DB Fr.

88. Eli King WR/DB Fr.

89. Hunter Craig WR/DB So.

90. Colby Harrison RB/DL So.

91. Maddux Trujillo PK Jr.

92. Kolby Brookshire TE/DL Sr.

94. Eamon McDaniel PK So.

96. Nick Passmore DL Fr.

97. Devin Maddox DL Jr.

Regional events