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Murphy: Tales of the 'road warriors'
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Following Flowery Branch’s run through the playoffs is becoming quite a compelling story. The Falcons’ are loaded with storylines that an outsider looking in can latch on to.

The biggest storyline is watching Flowery Branch, which I like to call the ‘Road Warriors,’ slice through opponents away from home this postseason. It’s really remarkable to consider the fact that Flowery Branch (11-2) has playoff wins against three tough opponents (Stephens County, Ridgeland and No. 2-ranked Baldwin) all on the road.

The state quarterfinal win against Baldwin (12-1) last Friday in Milledgeville gave notice that Flowery Branch is one of the elite programs in the state. Most people probably thought it was going to be the Falcons’ final act of the season when it trailed the Braves 17-7 at halftime. But the Falcons responded to silence the doubters by outscoring Baldwin — equipped with a defense many considered to be one of the best in any classification — 28-0 in the second half.

How’s that for making a statement?

Flowery Branch and Class AA’s Fitzgerald (11-2) are the only two No. 3 seeds still playing in the playoffs. That just shows how resilient the Falcons have been during the postseason to log more than 600 miles on a bus, and still be in the mix for the AAA state title.

The second interesting storyline is the direct link between senior fullback Daniel Drummond’s contributions and the Falcons’ success. Here’s a player that moved from West Hall into Flowery Branch for his senior season to have a realistic chance at playing for a title contender.

He’s certainly getting his wish.

Drummond’s 90 second-half rushing yards and three touchdowns against Baldwin are the primary reason that the Falcons survived and advanced to the state semifinals. If Drummond hadn’t transferred to Flowery Branch, it wouldn’t be playing in the final four.

I feel quite confident saying that.

Another fun story to follow is the emergence of Falcons junior quarterback Connor Shaw. Until this season, he was referred to as the little brother of former Flowery Branch quarterback and freshman Georgia Tech quarterback, Jaybo Shaw. Now the younger of the Shaw brothers is carving out his own legacy by carrying the Falcons football program deeper in the playoffs than his big brother ever did.

Connor may not always thread passes with the same precision as big brother Jaybo, but he’s got a complete team surrounding him that has state title visions.

Then there’s Flowery Branch’s coach — who is the father of Connor and Jaybo — Lee Shaw. He’s pulling double duty these days coaching the Falcons, and keeping everyone focused on his team for the playoffs. While at the same time devoting his Saturdays this fall to being at Georgia Tech’s games to see Jaybo play in person.

It seems that many obligations would stretch one man’s time pretty thin, but it seems he’s pulled it all off flawlessly.

Another interesting angle of watching Flowery Branch football this postseason is the outpouring of its fan support. Never underestimate the impact of having such a huge following on their side of the bleachers.

According to how many seats were filled Friday night in Milledgeville, it’s very clear the Falcons fans would travel to the farthest corners of the state to follow the team.

I’m sure there’s other interesting story lines to follow with this program that only an insider would know about.

Who knows, there may be some more new story lines to write about in the near future. A trip to the Georgia Dome? State title rings? It’s all still a guessing game that hinges on Friday’s state semifinal game against LaGrange (11-2).

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