Cairo happy to back back in state title game
Tickets on sale
Flowery Branch vs. Cairo
Tickets for the Class AAA state championship game between Flowery Branch and Cairo are on sale at Flowery Branch High School from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday. Pre-sell tickets are $15 (cash only). Tickets at the gate will be $20. Kickoff for Saturday’s state title game is 5 p.m.
Flowery Branch is asking its fans to help line Hog Mountain Road and Spout Springs Road with signs and banners all the way to Interstate 985 for players to see on their way to the state title at the Georgia Dome on Saturday. The team will depart Flowery Branch at 12:30 p.m.
The Flowery Branch High Touchdown Club is holding a season finale gathering following the Falcons state championship game at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Flowery Branch gym.
Fans are invited to join the players, coaches, cheerleaders and band to celebrate the 2008 season.
For more information, contact Athletic Director Shannon Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch senior defensive back Greg Palmer can remember the pact made between his classmates at summer camp before their freshman season.
Full of ambition, the young group of Falcons met together after an inspiring team meeting with the senior class from 2005 at their camp at Currahee mountain, outside of Toccoa.
"We were all blown away by the emotional bonfire we had just had," Palmer said. "After that the conversation just carried on to we decided we wanted to be a team that won a (state title) ring."
It was in that group of wide-eyed 14-year-olds that Palmer and his rising freshman class at Flowery Branch decided it would accept nothing less than playing for a state title as seniors.
Back then, a proclamation like that would have been met with skepticism if made public — the Falcons were just three years into existence and had no history to support such lofty goals.
Now that preseason promise sounds like a great way to foreshadow an unforgettable senior season.
Flowery Branch (12-2) is living up to the promise made by its 2005 freshman class as it prepares to play for the Class AAA state title against Cairo (13-0) on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
"This senior class just all gets along so well, and just won’t quit," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "Their thing is that they don’t want to stop playing together."
Flowery Branch senior lineman Ben Clark remembers the conversation when they were freshmen the same way Palmer does. He said they all dreamed about the opportunity to play for, and win, a state title. Clark also felt it would be important to leave a legacy for future Falcons’ teams to try to match.
"We definitely set the bar pretty high talking about winning state," Clark said.
Much of the ambition with this year’s senior class came from the respect they had for the seniors in 2005.
They wanted to be the kind of leaders they had their freshman season.
Palmer and Clark both remember standing on the sidelines in 2005 when Flowery Branch played, what was, in its first state quarterfinal game against Dougherty.
"I really looked up to that 2005 team," Clark said. "It’s weird to think that we’ve gone a lot further in the playoffs than they did."
Shaw says that eight of the seniors starting for Flowery Branch came up together playing at Davis Middle. One of those key seniors, Izaan Cross, played at Buford his freshman and sophomore years, before moving back to Flowery Branch. Falcons senior defensive back David DeLeon moved in his sophomore season. Probably the biggest addition, however, to this year’s senior class was running back/defensive end Daniel Drummond, who transferred last spring from West Hall.
Back in their days at Davis, this senior class was already showing some promise. In seventh grade, they finished with a 4-2 record. As eighth-graders, they went 3-3.
"Any time you have a strong feeder program, it helps the transition to high school," Shaw said.
Flowery Branch’s seniors have continued to learn lessons on being a championship program as the season has progressed. Palmer says that preseason talk may have made this group overconfident leading into this season. Reality set in when the Falcons lost the season opener to Stephens County. It was reinforced when Flowery Branch lost the region title game to Gainesville at the end of the regular season.
Flowery Branch’s seniors decided to turn those low points into a learning experience. The Falcons’ seniors decided they didn’t want to lose again after the Gainesville game.
"Our senior class has a great work ethic," DeLeon said. "We’ve worked extremely hard to make it to this state title game."
Flowery Branch’s seniors all point to the off-the-field bond they share as a driving force behind the state playoffs run. They spend their time together away from school by eating together, watching movies, playing video games and watching sports.
Now that four-year bonding experience in high school boils down to one game to earn that state championship ring they dreamed about earning as freshman.
"It’s just surreal to think that we’re about to play for the state title," Clark said.