It doesn’t take long to see that Malik Damons is the ideal fit for the new offense in place at Flowery Branch High.
The 6-foot-2, 210 pound Damons so far has been everything Falcons coach Ben Hall looks for in a powerful running back. On top of that, the senior has already toppled his 2016 numbers by 117 yards in the three games played.
But the biggest difference since last season, according to Hall, is they’re giving him the ball.
It’s simple as that.
“He’s had a good early season, and he works hard,” said Hall, who has the Falcons off to their best start since 2011. “He’s a real pleasure to coach. And he fits our system. ..He’s physically talented. He’s gifted in that way, but he’s a sponge. I mean, he absorbs everything we tell him, and he really wants to get better each and every day.
“He’s just a fun kid to coach. Just because usually when you have a physically talented kid that is a senior, you know, they are a little more difficult to coach, if you will. But this one, it’s so new to him. He just absorbs everything the coaches tell him.”
In addition to lifting weights and eating right, Damons said it was the belief his coaches and teammates had in him to grasp a new offense which helped tremendously in the transition.
“That’s what we lacked last year, coaches believing in their players,” Damons said. You do great things when you just have that faith. …and working as a team.”
Behind a stout rushing attack paced by Damons and the shifty senior back Malik Drayton, the Falcons tallied their third win of the season in dominant fashion with a 31-6 rout of Stephens County last Friday night. Damons racked up 156 yards and three touchdowns on a season-high 26 carries, finally achieving that workhorse status his coach looked for all offseason. Damons could be seen rumbling between the tackles and trucking over would-be tacklers, also buttering up an off-balance Indians defense with the occasional playaction.
Yet, despite such a wide margin, Hall indicated Friday was the first time they needed Damons to help put the game away in the final quarter.
Damons’ final 7-yard score displayed his acrobatic abilities, as he flipped over tacklers as he crossed the plane to make it 24-0 with 10:34 left. An explosive 65-yard touchdown scamper by Drayton to make it 31-0 minutes later certainly helped as well.
Guided by a cohesive and sizeable offensive line, Damons and Drayton have been two big components in the Falcons outscoring the field 112-13 in a 3-0 start. Having that two-headed monster of a backfield in Damons and Drayton give this high-powered attack an ability to change pace offensively, whether it be Damons powering between the tackles or Drayton burning defenses from the slot in the passing game.
“It’s really fun, for me and him to compete at that position,” Damons said of Drayton. You know, I’d break a 10-yard run, and he comes in and breaks a 25-yard run. It kind of makes me want to try harder. He pushes me, and I push him.”
The two have combined for 709 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Drayton, with his breakaway speed, has accrued 292 yards of offense.
“When you know, two guys are spelling each other out, we can go with more of a power game obviously with Damons, and we can still do that with Drayton, too,” Hall said. “But we can flex (Drayton) out too, give him more of a spread look. It is nice to have both of those guys. They complement each other well, and they’re great teammates and they really pull for each other.”
Flowery Branch visits Jefferson (2-1) Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium. In their only meeting, the Dragons shutout the Falcons 33-0. They open Region 8-5A play the following week at Johnson.