FLOWERY BRANCH — To leave a legacy is an athlete’s dream.
To be an integral part of moments talked about or be a person named when heralded history is spoken of is an athlete’s dream.
Over the course of the last five years, the Flowery Branch football program has won 50 games, the 50th coming in last Friday’s 17-14 win against Region 6-AAA champion Ridgeland.
When the five-year span — which included a state title game berth in 2008 — is spoken of in the years to come, it will be impossible not to mention a Shaw.
It will be impossible because in each of those years, a Shaw was not only the coach, but was under center.
It will be impossible because a legacy has already been left.
“At times I can’t believe it,” Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. “It’s what you dream of when you have sons...for them to have the type of high school careers they’ve had and to have made the memories they’ve made, it’s been a great journey.”
Four years ago, Flowery Branch’s season came to an end at the hands of Grady High School — the Falcons second round opponent Friday night.
In that game, then junior quarterback Jaybo Shaw threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more. One of his touchdown passes was to brother, and then freshman wide receiver, Connor Shaw, who finished the game with seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Friday night is the very definition of a career coming full circle evidenced by the younger Shaw not only having a chance at revenge, but doing so as the team’s current starting quarterback.
“This program means everything to me,” Connor said. “I’ve been a part of it since the fifth grade and I watched this program struggle.
“I watched Jaybo (Shaw) take over the starting job and then I watched him play a huge part in making this program what it is. I’ve just tried to step in and keep it going and I think I’ve done that.”
In four years as the Falcons starting quarterback — a span in which the program went 32-14 — Jaybo amassed 127 total touchdowns and 9,350 yards of total offense.
In Connor’s two years as starting quarterback, the Falcons are 20-6. He has thrown for 4,588 yards and 48 touchdowns while running for 1,563 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Six years, 52 wins, one state title game berth, 198 total touchdowns and 15,501 total yards and yet there have still been detractors.
“When people talked about ‘The Shaw Show,’ it hasn’t always been in a positive light,” coach Shaw said. “They knew they’d hear that they were only playing and only starting because their dad was the coach, but we handled it together.
“They understood that this is a fickle sport and that made them better quarterbacks.”
They are the type of quarterbacks that receive Division-I scholarship offers, sign with Georgia Tech, commit to South Carolina and start as a freshman in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“We did our best and I’m still doing my best to prove people wrong by our play on the field,” Connor said. “We were raised well enough to know that the only way we could prove them wrong was by our play on the field.”
“The bottom line is that it wasn’t their dad passing or running for touchdowns,” coach Shaw said. “I really don’t think that Steve Spurrier or Paul Johnson cares who Lee Shaw is.
“It’s always been about their play, not about me.”
Friday night, the Falcons face Region 5-AAA’s No. 2-seeded Grey Knights of Grady (10-1) for the second time in four years.
And will look to not only extend their season, but in doing so, extend a legacy.
“As a coach somewhere in your career you want to leave a legacy,” coach Shaw said. “I’ve been blessed to leave a legacy with my sons.
“Hopefully when Flowery Branch football is mentioned down the road, you’ll think of a Shaw.”