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Flowery Branch's secondary sets the bar high
Flowery Branch senior defensive back Greg Palmer makes a tackle against Chestatee earlier this season. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Flowery Branch at LaGrange

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Callaway Stadium, LaGrange

Cost: $12

FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch senior back Chris Lipscomb never lets football practice get in the way of having a good time on the field. The defensive back/wide receiver has earned quite a reputation with his teammates for being the ringleader of dishing out of the jokes at their expense.

"I like to have a good time out on the practice field," Lipscomb said. "It makes practice fly by."

"He’s like the Energizer bunny out there jumping around and screaming," Falcons senior defensive end Izaan Cross said.

Lipscomb doesn’t cherry pick when it comes to who he gives a good ribbing. From the Falcons’ star players all the way down to the scout team, everyone is a target for this senior cornerback during down time.

"Yeah, he always tells me, ‘why don’t you quit being hurt all the time,’" Flowery Branch defensive end/fullback Daniel Drummond added.

Everyone can laugh about the light-hearted approach that Lipscomb brings to the field for Flowery Branch (11-2). They know he’s as serious as anyone once it’s game time. Lipscomb and junior free safety Rod Frazier lead the team with four and five interceptions this season, respectively. Each of these defensive backs added to their season total with another pick in last Friday’s 35-17 win against second-ranked Baldwin in the state quarterfinals.

"Everyone loves Chris," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "He’s got a great personality and has great leadership qualities that make him a force in the secondary."

Lipscomb is just part of the puzzle that makes up a defensive backfield that prides themselves on swooping down on passes, as well as helping to shut down the opposition’s running game. They have another chance to add to school history with the team’s first appearance in the state semifinals against LaGrange (11-2) on Friday night at Callaway Stadium in LaGrange.

Lipscomb’s tone changes drastically when he talks about how seriously Flowery Branch takes its opportunity to become the first Hall County public school to ever win a football state title in the GHSA.

"We’re out here to prove a point because we have a chip on our shoulders," Lipscomb said. "Everyone thinks that since Flowery Branch is a No. 3 seed and we’re a North Georgia team that we can’t be too good.

"Well, we’ll just come out there and surprise people and beat them," Lipscomb said.

Shaw says that his defensive secondary has been a key reason that Flowery Branch has pulled off three straight playoff victories on the road. He says that senior strong safety Greg Palmer (two interceptions this season) is the leader of the group. Rodney Young has been a pleasant addition after moving in this year from Gainesville. Senior David DeLeon (three INTs) has been flexible for the secondary at corner and also at outside linebacker.

Together, Flowery Branch’s defensive backs have totaled 18 interceptions this season. That’s a drastic improvement over the three interceptions in all of the 2007 season.

Palmer says that the strong chemistry between this unit comes from the time they spent together leading up to this season. He says the time spent together with morning workouts last winter, spring practice and endless summer passing camps that helped build momentum for this unit.

"We all talk a lot in the secondary to be on the same page," Lipscomb said. "And we really push each other to always get better."

Shaw noticed the potential of the defensive backs over the summer during its countless passing camps, particularly one at Hoover High (Ala.). It was there that Flowery Branch went against much larger schools from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma that run five-receiver sets. The Falcons were able to hold their own.

He said at that point it was just a matter of implementing schemes for Flowery Branch’s secondary to see its true potential.

"We have a very athletic secondary that we’re able to utilize well in coverage," Shaw said.

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