Do you ever have those dreams that are so good you don’t want to wake up?
Maybe it’s of powerball winnings, or a Saturday when all the yard work is done and Paul Maguire isn’t doing the color commentary on the game you want to watch.
Well, when the Flowery Branch Falcons woke up Saturday morning there was no need to curse the alarm, tossing and turning and trying in vain to regain that sleepy bliss.
Their dream is real, and it’s still going.
The Falcons’ improbable run through the Class AAA state playoffs continues, thanks to a forceful 28-0 win over tradition-rich LaGrange on Friday night. Up next: The state championship game against Cairo, 5 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
And for a high school football player, it doesn’t get much better than that.
The Falcons have taken the long road, literally and figuratively, to get to this point. They opened the regular season with a three-point loss at Stephens County and finished it with a loss to Gainesville.
A win against the Red Elephants would have given Flowery Branch the Region 7-AAA championship and guaranteed the Falcons at least one home game in the playoffs. But sometimes the path less traveled is the best way to get where you want to go, and now Flowery Branch is playing for a more prestigious title.
As the No. 3 seed from 7-AAA, the Falcons were sent on the road for the postseason. First, to even the score with Stephens County, which they did and then some with an attention-getting 42-21 win.
Next up was a trip to Ridgeland, champion of the esteemed Region 6-AAA, home of Carrollton and Cartersville, as well as one of the most skilled offensive players in the state: Ridgeland receiver and Alabama recruit Michael Bowman. The Falcons shut down the star and muscled their way to a 21-14 win, earning a trip to Middle Georgia.
Unbeaten Baldwin welcomed the Falcons to town with a defense that had held all but two of its first 12 opponents to 12 points or fewer. The Braves' season high for points allowed was 19, to Shaw in the second round of the playoffs. Flowery Branch nearly doubled that, scoring three times in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-17 win.
And Friday night, faced with a defense boasting three D-I recruits and that had given up just six points per game in three playoffs wins, the Falcons put up 373 yards, including a mind-blowing 258 rushing yards on 22 carries from Daniel Drummond.
It’s been a long, winding road, and if it had happened any other way, the Falcons wouldn’t be the team they’ve become. Those long bus rides, full of anticipation one way, full of pure joy the other, make for enduring memories and bond teammates in a way that little else can. Same goes for the losses. Because when you’ve been down, being up feels that much better.
Now, more anticipation awaits. The next few days before Flowery Branch takes the field of its NFL namesake will be filled with it — the kind that keeps kids awake on Christmas Eve and makes hours drag on for weeks.
It’ll probably mean some nights of fitful sleep for the Falcons’ players and coaches this week. But when they wake up next Saturday, it’ll be their dreams being realized, while the best most of us can do is hit snooze and hope.