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High school football: Flowery Branch stocked with talent in move up to Class 5A
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Flowery Branch's Malik Dryden runs against North Hall during the scrimmage game Aug. 5, 2022 at the Brickyard. - photo by Bill Murphy

Success has long been the standard at Flowery Branch. 

That’s likely going to continue in 2022 for first-year Falcons coach Jason Tester. 

With dynamic playmakers on offense and a trademark stout defense, Flowery Branch appears ready to compete with a move up to Region 8-5A. 

Led by a two-way attack at running back with Myles Ivey and Malik Dryden both back this season, the Falcons will look to move the ball behind a seasoned offensive line. 

Tester, who spend 3 of the past 4 seasons as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator, already has ample familiarity with the players on that side of the ball. 

In 2021, Flowery Branch held the opposition to 14-or-less points six times. 

With adequate depth on both sides of the ball, Flowery Branch is looking to continue a streak with five straight seasons making the postseason. 

In the first 20 years of Flowery Branch’s history, it’s made the playoffs 14 times, highlighted by a trip to the state finals in 2008.

This season, Flowery Branch’s league will be stout with Jefferson, Clarke Central and 

Loganville all players in the mix for the region title and one of four spots to the postseason. 

However, the Falcons have one of the most veteran rosters this season in Hall County.

Contending for the playoffs and putting together a run in state are certainly a good possibility. 

“We have a lot of familiarity on this team, I’ve known these seniors since they were freshman,” Tester said. “We’re excited for their growth and the culmination of their high school career. We want to cherish the games that are guaranteed.”

On offense, the spark will be provided by several players. 

Ivey, who is only about 160 pounds, picked up more than 900 yards on the ground in 2021. 

Junior Seth Larson, a two-time state champion and national-champion wrestler, is the Falcons’ leading wide receiver and will also be a huge factor in kick and punt returns. 

“Seth’s our most athletic guy,” Tester said. “He’s a possession receiver who can take the top off a defense.”

Flowery Branch will also feature Caden 

Pelham at wide receiver, along with talented tight ends John David Peacock and Ethan Fetterman. One of the few question marks for Flowery Branch is quarterback, where senior Brody Jordan holds an edge, Tester said, over a couple younger players.  On the offensive line, it starts with senior Shaun Shockley, who will lead a group with some experience including Dylan Setzer, Brice Deitz, Joshua Pacheco and Tony Mejia. 

Eric Garner, a guard, and Nathan Turner are No. 1’s on the depth chart for the offensive line, but are unavailable to start the season, due to injury. 

On defense, Flowery Branch is also stacked with talent, led by middle linebacker Cam Haynes and defensive linemen Yolando Barrett, Ben Brookshire and Hunter Adams. 

Also at linebacker, the Falcons will primarily feature Frankie Perez and 

Christian Mendoza, as well as some young athletes. At the line of scrimmage, Brandon Shiloh will also be in the mix and Mejia will also play a substantial role. 

In the secondary, Drake Smitherman, Ivey and Jalen Augustin are the top athletes at cornerback, Tester said, while Cameron Campbell and Ty Akins will start at safety. 

On special teams, Marco Velasquez will handle kickoffs and field goals. 

Jordan will likely line up as punter, a quarterback/punter combo that Flowery Branch has carried the past few seasons, Tester said, to give options on fourth down. 

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