The 2008 Cairo Syrupmakers have everything you could want in a high school football team: A backfield full of playmakers, a defense that yields points grudgingly and a roster full of seniors that have played on the big stage.
Flowery Branch has never played in a state championship game and didn’t even win its region.
Done deal, right? The Syrupmakers lay it on the Falcons like a fat, waiting stack of pancakes.
Well, not quite.
These Falcons are playing with a force greater than a 240-pound fullback; something rushing stronger than a beastly defensive end coming off the edge.
It’s the tidal wave of sea change — some might call it destiny — and it’s squarely at the back of Flowery Branch.
The Falcons were supposed to be done weeks ago. This is a Northeast Georgia team, after all. They never should have been able to run with the state’s elite.
There’s no way they should be able to go into the house of the Region 6-AAA champs and pull off a last-second win. There’s no way they should put up 35 points on a second-ranked, unbeaten Baldwin team that only gave up 36 points in the entire regular season. And there’s certainly no way they were going to go into Callaway Stadium and rush for 278 yards against an aggressive LaGrange defense with at least three D-I recruits.
Better think again.
They’ve done all that, and judging by what they’ve shown so far, they’re not done yet.
For those with a close-up view, it’s clear to see that this is a team getting better with each week. And next week is now.
There’s no other way to explain it. At their back is the pent-up frustration of 26 years. That’s how long it’s been since a football team from Hall County played for a state championship. In the meantime, they’ve heard it all: Teams up North aren’t fast enough, aren’t big enough, aren’t nasty enough.
That ends today.
But it won’t just be because of the nebulous, undefined forces guiding the Falcons to their destiny. In strictly on-the-field terms, Flowery Branch has what it takes to win this game.
Speaking of that aforementioned 240-pound fullback and bull-rushing defensive end, the Falcons have both. Their names are Daniel Drummond and Izaan Cross. Their numbers are 27 and 44. And if you don’t see them this Saturday, give it a year or two and you can watch them on a future Saturday in your living room. They’re that kind of talent.
And it’s not like they’ve done it all for the Falcons. It’s a complete team; from first-year starting quarterback Conner Shaw to three-year starting lineman Bucky Free to undersized dynamo David DeLeon to Greg Palmer, the team leader in tackles, there aren’t any weaknesses to speak of.
If nothing else, that puts them on equal footing with the Syrupmakers, who are as complete a team as there is in Georgia this season (and plenty of others).
So when they tee it up in a few hours, it’s bound to be a good one.
But when Flowery Branch does its county, its region and its namesake proud on Atlanta’s NFL home field, don’t say you’re surprised.
Like a tsunami gathering on the horizon — or more appropriately, like a Northeast Georgia summer shower — this is a force of nature you could see coming.