Flowery Branch’s football team is definitely in a win-win situation. The Falcons are one of three teams in Region 7-AAA that are already playoff bound and that’s something to be happy about in itself.
But the Falcons (8-1, 4-0 Region 7B-AAA) have a chance to capture their first region title in school history. I know fans at The Branch are hoping to make school history, and draw that home field advantage to open the playoffs in November.
The way I see it they have a good chance of doing so. The only thing sitting in Flowery Branch’s way is a game against Gainesville (8-0, 3-0) at Bobby Gruhn Field on Nov. 7, with the winner earning the region title.
The Falcons are at a tremendous advantage when you consider the fact that a bye week sandwiched between the big game gives them 14 days to prepare for the Red Elephants.
Gainesville faces Johnson on Friday before it can start thinking about the game for the region title. That bye week gives Flowery Branch’s coaches and players the luxury of traveling over to Oakwood on Friday night to scout what the sixth-ranked Red Elephants got cooking.
Giving players a week off before such a pivotal game is an excellent chance to heel some wounds, and have everyone playing as close to 100-percent as possible for the big game.
This region title game is big for the winner to earn the No. 1 spot in the region and start the playoffs at home. The loser is assured the No. 3 spot to the state playoffs and has to go on the road to start the playoffs.
Opening the playoffs at home hasn’t always been kind to Flowery Branch. Last season the No. 2-seed Falcons lost their opener against a juggernaut, and eventual state semifinalist Chamblee. But this season it would be a No. 4-seed coming to The Branch, if they’re fortunate enough to earn the region title.
Traditionally, there’s a high rate of success in the playoffs for No. 1 seeds in the opening round, with only a handful of No. 4 seeds across the state able to go on the road and pull the upset each season.
Gainesville’s only focus this week is to take care of business against the Knights. The Red Elephants don’t want a repeat of the 2006 game when Johnson marched into Bobby Gruhn Field and pulled off a huge upset.
North Hall (5-3, 4-0 Region 7A-AAA) also has a lot to play for this week with a road game against Gilmer (0-8, 0-4) in Ellijay. The Trojans can lock up the subregion ‘A’ title and secure a home playoff game with a win against the Bobcats or Lumpkin County in the season finale. With a win, it would be the third consecutive season that North Hall would lay claim to its subregion championship.
Region 7-AAA’s No. 4 playoff spot is the only wide-open spot, with Creekview (4-4, 3-1), Chestatee (4-4, 3-2), and White County (4-4, 2-2) all left to battle it out over the next two weeks to see who gets in the postseason.