Flowery Branch quarterback Elijah Gainey has stood out in a number of ways this season.
For one, he’s led the Falcons to their first 6-0 start since 2011 when they went on to make the state quarterfinals. He’s had the offense humming to the tune of 43 points a game, including 69 last Friday in a game against Chestatee.
But Flowery Branch head coach Ben Hall said Gainey’s most notable quality has nothing to do with his skill as a football player.
“First and foremost people like him,” Hall said. “He’s a very likeable individual.”
There’s a lot to like about Gainey’s play on the field, too.
In Friday’s home region matchup with the War Eagles, he completed 12 of 17 passes for 341 yards and five touchdowns — all coming in the first half of the 69-13 win. But Gainey attributes the gaudy numbers to a full team effort rather than anything he did individually.
“It’s not only me that’s accomplishing these things,” he said. “It’s also my line protecting me, my receivers catching the ball and really making big plays after the catch is made and all that stuff.”
The junior’s big game was the type of performance that Hall envisioned when he first met Gainey upon arriving at Flowery Branch prior to the 2017 season.
It was Hall’s first season as head coach of the Falcons and Gainey’s first year as the starter, but Hall saw all the qualities of an elite signal caller in Gainey — then just a sophomore — from the get-go.
“You could tell he was eager,” Hall said of his signal caller. “He was eager to be a good player, and you could tell he had the attributes you look for in a quarterback.”
Part of that was Gainey’s “stature and physical ability.” He has the size and arm strength every coach hopes for his quarterback to have.
But beyond that, Hall said Gainey’s biggest advantage comes through his ability to effectively communicate. Unlike many players, Gainey does not shy away from voicing his opinions to his teammates or coaches if he sees something an opposing defense is doing that the Falcon offense can exploit.
“We trust what he feels in-game,” Hall said.
Hall’s faith in Gainey’s ability and football acumen has not gone unnoticed by the young quarterback, who said the trust between the two has been instrumental in Flowery Branch’s offensive explosion to start the year.
“He’s really shown trust in me and really showed that he has confidence in me and my abilities,” Gainey said. “That’s really given me a boost in my confidence.”
Everything came together for Gainey — and the rest of Flowery Branch’s team — as the Falcons rolled to their sixth win of the year behind his arm, making him the Times Player of the week.
But for Gainey, Friday’s contest was just a stepping stone on the path to his ultimate goal. Gainey said he doesn’t really have any baseline stats he’s trying to hit. Rather, his primary aim is more team-based.
“I want to be able to do anything that I can for this team to win and win at a big stage as in getting really far into the playoffs and even to state,” he said.