June 27 Banks County
July 1 Chestatee
July 4 East Hall
July 8 Commerce
July 11 Gainesville
July 15 Dawson County
July 18 Buford
July 22 Hab.Central
July 25 Lakeview Acad.
July 29 Jefferson
Aug. 1 North Hall
Aug. 5 Jackson County
Aug. 8 Riverside Military
Aug. 12 Lumpkin County
Aug. 15 West Hall
Aug. 19 White County
In the summer of 2008 there were questions as to what kind of football would be played at Flowery Branch in the post-Jaybo Shaw era.
The answer was the kind of football that accounts for 5,000 yards of total offense, allows only 14 points per game and makes the program’s first state title game appearance.
This summer, the questions are on the defensive side and arise out of the loss of standouts Daniel Drummond, Izaan Cross, Greg Palmer and Chris Lipscomb. The foursome combined for 394 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 21 sacks and eight interceptions with each earning a Division I scholarship.
"There are concerns defensively, but you really don’t know until you get into that fire on Friday nights," Shaw said. "I feel really good about the guys that are competing for those positions. They’ve got good motors and they’ll play hard, and if you can play hard on Friday nights you’ve got a chance."
To ensure those motors are running in high gear for the entire team come fall, the Falcons are spending the summer competing and riding the coattails of the most successful season in the program’s history.
"(Last year’s success) has been a charge for these guys," Shaw said. "They want to get back (to the state title game), but we are guarding ourselves against complacency."
For Shaw, avoiding complacency means one thing: competing.
"It’s a packed summer of skills and drills," Shaw said.
There are 7-on-7 tournaments for the offense, the annual Summer Sacrifice in which the Falcons lift four days a week and do speed training with Competitive Edge Sports out of Duluth three days a week and several camps specific to both linemen and skill players.
"We go to a ton of 7-on-7 tournaments where we play seven, eight, nine games for something," Shaw says, "And playing for something keeps the guys very competitive.
"We don’t harp on it everyday, but all the things we do are pretty competitive," he added. "I think if you continue to compete through the summer, you stay sharp and that’s what we’re trying to do."
Where no question exists is on the offensive end, where the Falcons return South Carolina commit and second-year starting quarterback Connor Shaw along with the backfield duo of Imani Cross and Darius Kimbrough.
Throw in a bevy of receivers that not only run six deep, but also has experience and the potential lies in potency.
"I’ve been known to make statements," Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. "But this offense has the potential to be better than last year."
And as it has been stated, last year was a pretty good year despite the program’s losses.
"I feel really good about where our team is headed," Shaw said. "We are going to miss those guys playing college ball but it seems like every year that happens, and the somebody else steps up and somebody else gets better and becomes that kind of guy — and so far so good."