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Flowery Branch looking to improve air attack
Football team heading to 7-on-7 tournament
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2010 National Select 7-on-7 Championships
Flowery Branch football

Where: Hoover, Ala.
When: Pool play, Thursday evening and Friday morning; Tournament, Friday evening and Saturday
Watch: Live webcast at www.select7on7.com
A coach will take any opportunity to put a team in the best possible position for victory. Whether it’s extra drills, better equipment or longer practices, anything that can be done to improve a team’s chances is done, any chance for improvement is seized upon.

The coaching staff of the Flowery Branch High football team is no different.

This weekend, for the third consecutive year, the Falcons will take almost two dozen of their top skill players to Hoover, Ala. to compete in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships.

The event, now in its eighth year, brings together 32 of the nation’s most talented skills groups for a three-day tournament pitting quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers against defensive backs and linebackers. With no linemen and no handoffs, the tournament is a pass-happy frenzy where the quarterback has only four seconds after taking the snap to make a throw. And then it’s up to the player on the other end of the pass to make a play and avoid being touched.

While the tournament is beneficial to most top-tier high school football programs, the format is uniquely helpful to Flowery Branch. With an offense that usually features four or five wideouts and a running back coming out of the backfield, the Falcons like to throw early, often and fast.

And 7-on-7 is all about speed.

“It’s good for us because it’s really close to a lot of things we do offensively,” Falcons assistant coach Benji Harrison said. “A lot of teams go to the tournament and do things that they don’t really do during the regular season, but we don’t. That format is really close to a lot of what we do on Friday nights.”

Harrison thinks that the format is also very helpful in acclimating new starting quarterback, rising senior Austin Brown, who transferred to Flowery Branch from Habersham Central.

“It’s been really good for him to get a lot of looks,” Harrison said. “It’s really realistic. It helps get the quarterback and receivers on the same page, especially with Austin coming in this year. It’s really good for him to understand how different receivers run routes differently and getting that timing down. That’s a big thing.”

The two receivers that Harrison favors in the competition are Logan Conley, a rising senior, and Casey Osborn, a rising junior. Both could figure heavily in Falcons’ playcalling this fall.

“We like to throw to those guys quite a bit,” Harrison said. “We like for those three (Brown, Conley and Osborn) to get a lot of work together.”

Not only does the offense takes away something positive from the 7-on-7 experience, the defense gets just as much work done.

“It’s just as good for us defensively because they get a lot of looks. It’s good to see a lot of formations, and I think that’s what our defensive coaches really like,” Harrison said. “It helps (the defense) to understand assignments in the secondary and with zone coverage.

“With the ball starting on the defensive 40, and the offense having three downs to move it to the 25, three to the 10 and then three to score, a lot of passes are thrown on the quick, which forces the defense to adjust and to learn how to talk to each other really well.”

Another positive that the Flowery Branch staff takes from the tournament is an opportunity to re-evaluate their depth chart.

“You always have one or two guys who will surprise you,” Harrison said. “Guys that you really don’t know exactly what position they fit and then you see them down there and they make some plays and sometimes they change our opinion a little bit about where we need to play them and how we need to play them.

“It’s all about trying to get the best guys in the best spots.”

With 32 of the best high school programs in the nation coming to the event, the level of competition is extremely high. Harrison believes that is the most important thing that the experience offers the players.

“It’s good to see a lot of good teams,” he said. “I think that is the biggest thing we take out of it. There will be a lot of good teams there and that will let us see if our team will compete with some of the better teams around.

“We expect them to play and play hard. We’ve been the last two years and we’ve had some pretty good success there, so hopefully that will continue this year and we’ll get something out of it which will help us on Friday nights this fall.”
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