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5 things to watch in 2021 Flowery Branch High School football season
Flowery Branch football practice
Flowery Branch High football practice Aug. 18, 2021. Photo by Bill Murphy

Flowery Branch has been one of the most consistent teams in the area of late, winning at least eight games in three of the last four seasons and making it to the state tournament all four years. 

Now, in quarterback David Renard’s senior year, the Falcons are looking to get over the hump of winning a state championship. 

Defensively, Flowery Branch will return nine players with extensive starting experience, and coach Ben Hall said he’s hoping this season’s balanced, veteran squad has what it takes to make a deep playoff push.

“Every team changes every year,” he said. “But I think this year we’re going to be more experienced, on defense especially.”

2021 Schedule

  • Aug. 20 at St. Pius X
  • Aug. 27 DAWSON COUNTY
  • Sept. 3 at Gainesville
  • Sept. 17 HIRAM
  • Sept. 24 at Jefferson*
  • Oct. 8 at North Oconee*
  • Oct. 15 CEDAR SHOALS*
  • Oct. 22 at Madison County
  • Oct. 29 CHESTATEE*
  • Nov. 5 EAST HALL*

*Region games

No fly zone

Flowery Branch’s most veteran unit this season will be the secondary, where the Falcons return all four starters in Tre Augustine and Jaheim Hayes at cornerback and Nick Linkowski and Jacob Costello at safety. All four players are seniors, and have the football acumen to let Hall get creative with coverages. 

“Those guys, being as experienced as they are, we’ll ask them to do a little more,” he said. “Mix up some man coverage to go along with our various zone coverages. It just allows us to do more as far as secondary and the coverages.”

Hall said the veteran presence that group provides will make things easier for a younger front seven that will have to do a bit more learning on the job. 

“When you have an experienced secondary, you can mix and match coverages to go along with what you do underneath them,” he said. “The more you can do, the more it helps the first and second level, the defensive line and the linebackers.”

Tight competition at tight end

Hall said the most heated competition on the Flowery Branch roster right now is at tight end, where four players are all vying for play time. Junior John David Peacock is currently the front runner to get most of the starter snaps, per Hall, but Ethan Fetterman, Hunter Adams and Sam Westbrook will all also be in the mix. 

The Falcons are “as deep as we’ve ever been at tight end” according to Hall, so the team will implement two tight end sets frequently throughout the year, but the Flowery Branch coach said he’s still hoping one player will separate himself from the bunch. 

“We have four guys there, but we’re still looking for the one just to own the position,” Hall said.

They are having to replace Baxley O’Brien who has moved to Rabun County for his senior season. 

Renard’s last ride

Flowery Branch senior quarterback Renard has started at the position since he was a sophomore, and Hall said the two years of starting experience have turned him into “kind of a coach on the field.”

Renard initially took over two seasons ago when then starting quarterback Elijah Gainey suffered a preseason injury, and has provided stability for the Falcons at the position ever since.

“There’s just a natural confidence that comes along with having an experienced quarterback, and our team believes in him,” Hall said. “He’s a great kid, and he’s a true pleasure to coach. He’s a very intelligent kid. He helps get the kids in the right position, and he understands our personnel, and it’s fun to watch.”

New look receiving corps

Flowery Branch got most of its receiving production last season from then-senior wide receiver Connor Larson, who accounted for more than a third of Renard’s passing yards a year ago and was the only wide receiver on the team to go over 500 yards receiving. 

With the elder Larson moving on, his younger brother Seth Larson, a national champion wrestler, is a player who Hall said “has really come on” and could be one of the Falcons busiest receivers on Fridays this year. In addition, Jaheim Hayes, a longtime starter for Flowery Branch at cornerback, will be playing both ways and shouldering some of the receiving load.

Just for kicks

One of Flowery Branch’s biggest departures from last season is kicker Maddox Trujillo, who will be kicking for Austin Peay this season after holding down the placekicking spot for the Falcons for the last couple of seasons. 

Trujillo will be replaced by junior Marco Velazquez, who started for the Flowery Branch junior varsity team a year ago. 

“Marco is a talented kid with a strong leg,” Hall said. “We’re excited about seeing what he can do for us as a placekicker.”

2021 Roster

1. Jaheim Hayes WR/DB Sr.

2. Seth Larson WR/DB So.

3. Jacob Costello WR/DB Sr.

4. Tre Augustine WR/DB Sr.

5. Malik Dryden RB/LB So.

6. Hunter Craig WR/DB Sr.

7. Myles Ivey RB/DB Jr.

8. Cameron Campbell WR/DB So.

9. Cam Haynes RB/LB So.

11. Brendan Corry QB/DB So.

12. David Renard QB Sr.

14, Caden Pelham WR/DB Jr.

15. Joelan Brown QB/DB Fr.

16. Gio Miele QB/DB Fr.

17. Josh Oliver QB/DB So.

18. Brody Jordan QB/DB Jr.

19. Franky Perez RB/LB So.

20. Drake Smitherman WR/DB Jr.

21. Jalen Augustin WR/DB So.

22. Jacob Parker RB/LB So.

23. Jon Willis WR/DB So.

24. Zion Buffington WR/DB Fr.

25. Nick Linkowski WR/DB Sr.

26. Craig Stephens RB/LB Fr.

27. Jordan Elder DB So.

28. Christian Mendoza RB/LB Jr.

29. Xander Renne TE/LB Fr.

30. Ethan Fetterman TE/DE So.

32. Ty Akins WR/DB So.

33. Destin Matthews WR/DB Fr.

34. Jeremiah Ware RB/LB Fr.

35. Hunter Adams TE/LB Jr.

36. Tanner Renard TE/LB Fr.

37. Jonathan Lanza WR/DB So.

38. Braeden Hoffman WR/DB So.

39. Hayden Adams WR/DB Fr.

40. Sam Westbrook TE/DE Sr.

41. Ian Bergoschjte RB/LB Sr.

44. Yolando Barrett TE/DL Jr.

45. Chandler Mayfield TE/DL Sr.

46. Kadin Inman RB/DE Sr.

47. Jonah Clark TE/LB Fr.

49. Brandon Shiloh DL Jr.

50. Joshua Pacheco OL/LB Fr.

51. Austin Buffington OL/DL Fr.

52. Tony Mejia OL/DL Fr.

53. Garrett Harper OL/DL So.

54. Dylan Setzer OL/DL Jr.

55. Eric Garner OL/DL Jr.

56. Drew Costello OL/DL Jr.

57. Gavin Roberts OL/DL Sr.

58. Brice Deitz OL/DL Jr.

59. Shaun Shockley OL/DL Jr.

60. Alfredo Rubio-Suarez OL/DL So.

61. Jonathan Garrison OL/DL Sr.

64. Vincent Kilroy OL/DL So.

65. Max Scott OL/DL Fr.

68. Joshua Pacheco OL/DL Fr.

69. Brandon Burtchaell OL/DL So.

71. Nate Schamer OL/DL Jr.

72. Nathan Turner OL/DL Jr.

74. Kade Sanchez OL/DL Fr.

75. Daniel Serrano OL/DL Fr.

79. Luke Puckett OL/DL Jr.

80. Jonathan Lanza WR/DB So.

81. Gumer Callejas WR/DB Jr.

82. Elijah Hayes WR/DB Fr.

83. Ricky Bailey WR/DB So.

84. Aaron Long WR/DB So.

85. Dylan Lee DE So.

86. Joey Francia WR/DB Jr.

87. Joshua Morales WR/DB Fr.

88. Jaylen Ferguson WR/DB So.

89. Clark City WR/DB Fr.

90. Marco Velasquez PK Jr.

91. Ethan Czaykowsky TE/DL Sr.

92. Benjamin Brookshire DL Jr.

93. Kelvin Lamptey-Mills PK Sr.

94. Eamon McDaniel PK Sr.

95. Matthew Yantz TE/DE Fr.

99. Micah Adams TE/DL Sr.


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