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High school football: Flowery Branch eager to put end to three-game losing skid against talented Clarke Central
Falcons looking to remain in good shape for playoff run in Region 8-5A
Flowery Branch quarterback Brody Jordan (44) throws against St. Pius X on Aug. 26, 2022 at Falcon Field. Photo by Paul Sasso MV Photo Concepts

There are a lot of things that Flowery Branch and Clarke Central share in common heading into their Region 8-5A football game Thursday night at Falcon Stadium.

Both the host Falcons (2-3, 0-1) and visiting Gladiators (1-4, 0-1) are badly in need of a win in order to put themselves among the upper division in the race for one of the region’s berths in the Class 5A state playoffs as the regular season begins the stretch drive.

And both teams’ record may be a bit deceiving upon inspection of their respective schedules thus far, with the Falcons’ three losses coming to two state-ranked teams (Lambert in 7A and Stephens County in 3A) and a 4-1 Eastside team last week, while the Gladiators have falling to ranked opponents in Gainesville (6A), Jefferson (4A) and Oconee County (3A) and a South Forsyth team that is better than its 3-2 record.

And the two coaches, Flowery Branch’s Jason Tester and Clarke Central’s Dave Perno, have definitely been on the same page regarding an important decision about their game that was made Monday.

While the Falcons, who played last Thursday against Eastside, would seem to be at a nominal advantage against the Gladiators, who played last Friday, with the game having been moved up one day.

However, both coaches were in agreement about the move in order to head off any possibility of the contest being affected in any way by the possible approach of the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

“Honestly, I think we’re in a good spot,” Tester said. “We kind of thought of it in advance once everything started showing a timetable for the storm. In my early conversation with Coach Perno, he was all for it, so we got the ball rolling, really, on Sunday. And we got confirmation before noon (on Monday). It’s a little bit of an adjustment with our practice schedule, but our kids have been real good with it.”

With that in agreement, it appears both coaches are also looking to make some adjustments for their respective teams.

Tester is looking for a lot of mental and emotional adjustments, as much as physical ones in order for his Falcons to try to rebound from their current three-game losing streak that followed an impressive 2-0 start to the 2022 campaign.

And the way Tester sees it, the main adjustments involve maintaining the team’s focus and consistency.

“We’ve been really consistent with the kids about our body language and tempo and focusing on getting better,” Tester said. “We need to fix us. We’re obvious disappointed (about the recent losses) and not playing to what we’re capable of. But our practice (Tuesday) has been one of our best practices we’ve had all season.”

Meanwhile, Clarke Central may be focusing on ball security a bit, with the Gladiators averaging two turnovers per game so far this season.

Whether they can or not could play into a big key for both team Thursday – being able to maintain possession of the ball offensively and control the clock.

Tester knows he would much rather have the ball in the hands of the Falcons’ running attack led by junior Malik Dryden and senior Myles Ivey and less in the hands of the Clarke Central offensive unit led by multi-talented senior quarterback Lucian Anderson III.

“The key (on defense) for us is to just do our assignments well and make some plays on defense, and to execute as well as we can on offense,” Tester said.

Thursday's games

Johnson vs. Lakeside-Atlanta, 5:15 p.m.

West Hall vs. Gilmer, 7:30 p.m.

Flowery Branch vs. Clarke Central, 7:30 p.m.

North Hall at North Oconee, 7:30 p.m.

East Hall vs. East Forsyth, 7:30 p.m.

Chestatee at Madison County, 7:30 p.m.

Cherokee Bluff vs. Cedar Shoals, 7:30 p.m.

Friday's games

Gainesville at Lanier, 7:30 p.m.

Riverside Military vs. Druid Hills, 7:30 p.m.

Lakeview Academy at Bethlehem Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Lanier Christian at Notre Dame Academy, 7:30 p.m.

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