As high schools are gearing up for the postseason in spring sports, football teams are getting ready for spring football practice.
In Flowery Branch, the Falcons kick off their first of the 10 allowed spring practices by the GHSA on May 3, the culmination of which is their annual spring game May 17 at 7 p.m. at Falcon Field.
Of the personnel turnover the Falcons endure from losing 18 seniors, the void left by quarterback Austin Brown’s graduation appears to be filled. Falcons coach Lee Shaw confirmed former North Hall starting quarterback Kanler Coker recently enrolled at Flowery Branch.
Last season as a junior for the Trojans, Coker completed 72 of his 156 passes for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns to eight interceptions.
This will be the second time in as many years a transfer has taken over the starting quarterback job for the Falcons after Shaw’s sons, Jaybo and Connor, combined to man the position from 2004-09.
Last season, Brown transferred to Flowery Branch from Habersham Central to fill the void left when Connor Shaw graduated.
With the Raiders in 2009, Brown completed 87 of his 176 passes for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns to 15 interceptions. In his only season with the Falcons, he was 175-of-274 passing with 2,588 yards and 24 touchdowns to four interceptions, earning The Times All-Area First Team honors. He’s now signed to play at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The Falcons finished 10-2 last season, advancing to the second round of the playoffs as a No. 2 seed before losing to Kell in Marietta.
LADY TROJANS PLAYING INSPIRED SOCCER: On Tuesday, North Hall beat White County for their second consecutive sudden death penalty kick victory. The win also marked the first time the Lady Trojans wore green and black arm bands, in honor of sophomore Hannah Young.
Young, who has played on the varsity team since her freshman season and was part of coach Nathan Wallace’s regular rotation as a center mid fielder, suffered a serious concussion in the Lady Trojans’ fifth game of the season against Johnson. The concussion is so severe she’s been doctor ordered to stay home from school, not watch TV or be in large crowds, which prevents her from going to North Hall soccer games.
While the team was hoping she’d return by the season’s end, when they found out she wouldn’t they decided to wear arm bands dedicated to her for the rest of the season.
“She’s had a wonderful attitude (toward her condition),” Wallace said of Young. “She’s remained positive and she’s such a lively spirit. She wants to be out there so bad with us, but unfortunately she’s very limited right now with what she can do.”
The Lady Trojans wrap up their season 6 p.m. Tuesday night against Oconee County at home, needing to win to assure themselves of a state playoff berth.
UNION COUNTY BASEBALL CONTINUES TO PROGRESS: Last season, the Panthers reached the state playoffs for the first time in 15 years. On Wednesday, the defeated Rabun County 6-5 to clinch the No. 2 seed in subregion 8A-AA for the region tournament and, once there, if they beat North Oconee in a best-of-three series, they’ll be in the playoffs again.
Panthers coach C.T. Hussion credits community support for the program’s turnaround. This season, Union County is playing on a brand new baseball field that was recently named the Georgia Dugout Club 2010-11 Field of the Year for Class AA.
“The amount of financial support from the parents, school board and community has been unbelievable,” Hussion said.
In addition to facilities, investments in the players themselves have been made as well, Hussion said. A lot of the players are now involved in American Legion Summer Ball, which consists of travel teams based out of the East Cobb area.
The Panthers haven’t played North Oconee this season, but split their series with them last year, 1-1.
“I really feel like we’re mirror images of each other, from the pitching staff to the team in general” Hussion said of North Oconee. “We’re excited to host the series.”
Follow Adam Krohn at Twitter.com/gtimesakrohn.