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Football 2020: Flowery Branch relying on bevy of talent across the board, roster depth in Region 8-4A
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Flowery Branch head coach Ben Hall works with players Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, during the team's practice. - photo by Scott Rogers

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The Flowery Branch football team has been the image of consistency over the past three years. The Falcons have had a winning record every season since head coach Ben Hall took over in 2017, going 7-4 in 2019 despite losing starting quarterback Elijah Gainey to a season-ending injury in a preseason scrimmage. 

The team has clashed with state title contenders Marist and Blessed Trinity in a tough Region 7-4A for the past couple of years, but a region shakeup has Flowery Branch separated from the two powerhouse programs and primed to take a shot at a region title. 



When Gainey went down last season, the Falcons turned to sophomore David Renard at quarterback. Hall said he was wary of asking Renard to do too much at the time, but the young signal caller’s mental and physical development since then have Hall brimming with confidence coming into the year.  

“He’s gotten bigger and stronger,” he said of Renard. “He’s a real tough kid. We’re going to ask him to do more.” 

Hall said Renard’s size (he finished the year at 137 pounds) prevented the Falcons from really letting him loose last year, but the rising junior has developed physically “probably more so than anybody on our team,” according to Hall. He said Renard has grown a couple inches and put on around 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason.  

In addition to giving Renard more chances at QB runs, Hall said he hopes for Flowery Branch to get closer to a 50/50 split between running and passing — a departure from last year’s run heavy approach – due to his confidence in Renard.  

“We feel like he can run the ball for us,” Hall said. “He can throw the ball. His arm is stronger. He can throw the ball further and with more velocity. That’s been nice to have.” 



While Flowery Branch will be getting back several key players at various positions, including the team’s top rusher (Jaizen Ellingham) and top two receivers (Connor Larson, Baxley O’Brien) on offense, the defensive secondary will be comprised of entirely new athletes.  

Twins Chase and Chandler Dial-Watson have both graduated, as have last year’s starting corners Taylor Reeves and Douglas Pena, throwing the Falcons secondary into open competition to take up the spots.  

Hall said the team is very high on safeties Jake Beaver and Nick Linkowski, who both had “plenty of playing time last year,” and will step into starting roles. Competition is a bit more heated for the cornerback spots still up for grabs.  

Tre Augustine has stood out so far in preseason work according to Hall, but Jaheim Hayes, PJ Stringer, Max Eubanks and Jacob Costello are all also still in the running to fill a starting corner position. Hall said the team’s depth in the secondary should help to make up for its lack of experience. 

“It’s nice to have guys we can line up there and have them compete for positions,” he said. “That’s been refreshing as a coach, not having three guys that you feel like you play and have to see what they do. We have several guys that we can see who offers us the most production.” 



Coming into the season amid a pandemic, Hall said depth just might be the biggest key to a successful year. The uncertainty brought along by the COVID-19 pandemic has put an emphasis on adaptability, according to Hall, and the deepest teams will be best able to adjust to altered lineups.  

“I think every team is going to need more depth this year than ever before, because you never know when one person may have to sit out for whatever reason with everything going on and the regulations that you have pertaining to the current predicament. You never know when there’s going to be an exposure to COVID-19.” 

Hall said normally summer practice would begin with a quick install of the scheme followed by a search for the best players to hold each position. This year, he said, the Falcons are taking things a bit slower and ensuring everyone on the team has an understanding of offensive and defensive foundations, just in case Flowery Branch needs to make any midseason emergency roster adjustments.  

The Falcons have even been cross training players at multiple positions in an effort to keep the team as prepared as possible for the undoubtedly unusual season to come. 

“We’ve just really narrowed our focus across the board, offensively and defensively,” he said. “And we have worked on preparing multiple people to play at each position, just so we have that ability and flexibility to roll with our personnel to make changes.” 


1. Jon Willis Fr. RB

2. Connor Larson Sr. WR

3. Jackson Miller Sr. WR

4. Jaizen Ellingham Sr. RB

5. Malik Dryden Fr. RB

6. Max Eubanks So. DB

7. Caleb Swift Sr. WR

8. Cameron Campbell Fr. DB

9. Brendon Corry Fr. QB

10. Baxley O’Brien Jr. TE

11. Ryan Lusco Sr. WR

12. David Renard Jr. QB

14. Caleb Pelham So. WR

15. Jacob Costello Jr. DB

16. Tre Augustine Jr. TE

17. Nathan Stinchcomb Fr. LB

18. Brody Jordan So. QB

19. Ty Akins Fr. DB

20 Drake Smitherman So. DB

21. Jerzee Allentini Sr. LB

22. Jake Beaver Jr. DB

23. Jaheim Hayes Jr. WR

24. Zion Moon Sr. DL

25. Nick Linkowski Jr. DB

26. Jalen Augustin Fr. WR

27. Myles Ivey So. RB

28. Christian Mendoza So. LB

29. Jordan Elder Fr. DB

30. Daiveyon Stephens Sr. LB

31. Jake Kross So. WR

32. Cam Haynes Fr. LB

33. PJ Stringer Jr. DB

34. Luke Fisher Sr. WR

35. Hunter Adams So. LB

36. Lanier Jackson Sr. LB

37. Manson Lackey Jr. LB

38. Frankie Perez Fr. LB

39. Ethan Fetterman Fr. TE

40. Samuel Westbrook Jr. DL

41. Ian Bergoschtje Jr. LB

42. Dylan Cross Sr. LB

43. Clay Anderson Sr. DL

44. Anthony Menjivar Sr. DL

45. Chandler Mayfield Jr. DL

48. Cal Rockenbach So. DL

49. Brandon Shiloh So. DL

50. Cole Pimental Sr. DL

51. Yolando Barrett So. DL

52. Micah Adams Jr. OL

53. Garrett Harper Fr. OL

55. Eric Garner So. OL

56. Drew Costello So. DL

57. Gavin Roberts Jr. DL

58. Daniel Tulk Sr. DL

59. Shaun Shockley So. DL

60. Alfredo Rubio-Suarez Fr. OL

61. Jonathan Garrison Jr. OL

62. Jason Dane Mosley So. DL

63. Ben Brookshire So. DL

64. Vincent Kilroy Fr. OL

66. John Sanchez So. OL

67. Cody Bradford Sr. OL

68. Zach Harrison Jr. OL

69. Brendan Burtchall Fr. DL

71. Nate Scharmer So. OL

72. Nathan Turner So. OL

73. Max Woodford So. OL

74. Sam Weaver Jr. OL

75. Will Brack Sr. DL

77. Gami Rodriguez Jr. DL

78. Brice Deitz So. OL

80. John David Peacock So. TE

81. Seth Larson Fr. WR

82. Michael Accary So. LB

83. Ricky Bailey Fr. WR

84. Aaron Long Fr. DB

85. Brayden Jackson So. TE

86. Sal Sengson Sr. TE

87. Devin Maddox So. WR

88. Eli King So. WR

89. Hunter Craig Jr. WR

90. Marco Velasquez So. PK

91. Maddux Trujillo Sr. PK

92. Jonathan Lanza Fr. WR

93. Ethan Czaykowsky Jr. DL

94. Eamon McDaniel Jr. PK

95. Jacob Rutledge Fr. LB

96. Nick Passmore So. DL

97. Devin Maddox Sr. DL

98. Tommy Hilliard So. DL

99. Kelvin Lampley-Mills Jr. PK


September 4            ST. PIUS X

September 11           at Dawson County

September 18          GAINESVILLE

October 2                 at Hiram

October 9                JEFFERSON

October 23              NORTH OCONEE

October 30              at Cedar Shoals

November 6           MADISON COUNTY

November 13         at Chestatee

November 20        at East Hall

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