The Flowery Branch football team came into the season with high expectations, and so far the Falcons have not disappointed.
The team moved to 4-0 last week after blowing out White County for its first Region 7-4A win of the year, and now the Falcons turn their sights to another region matchup at Chestatee tonight.
“I have a special group, and I’m excited to watch them play,” Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall said. “Our kids understand that we have a good team. We have to play like it each and every week, and I think this could be a special season for us.”
The Falcons next opportunity to prove they belong in the same conversation as the traditional powers in the 4A classification comes on the road against a War Eagles squad led by a quarterback that Hall called “one of the most explosive players in this part of the state.”
Chestatee’s Christian Charles has put up video game-like numbers since the beginning of last season, and slowing him down will be Flowery Branch’s primary focus in the game.
“Unfortunately, he touches the ball on every snap, and he can take it the distance on any given play,” Hall said. “We just have to work to contain him, keep him in the pocket and force him to throw. We can’t let him get outside the pocket and scramble and make plays, which he is so good at. He is such an explosive player.”
Hall added that winning the time of possession battle to keep Charles off the field would key to the Falcons game plan. On the other sideline, Chestatee is attempting to halt a two-game skid after losing big against Denmark and Marist in the past two weeks.
The War Eagles are in the midst of a five-week portion of the schedule that features four matchups against top 10 teams and a bye. But Chestatee coach Shaun Conley said he and his players are simply focusing on improving every week, rather than their disadvantageous schedule.
“When you play four teams that are in the top 10 in the state back to back to back to back, then it does become difficult,” Conley said. “We’re playing a lot of kids both ways. The wear and tear on them, and it being such a physical four weeks there, it is tough. But we just try to stay focused on us. We try to prepare to play everybody the same, really. It really doesn’t matter who we play.”
Conley said Flowery Branch’s biggest strength is along the offensive and defensive lines, where the Falcons are “big and very physical.”
His assertion is backed up by the numbers. The Falcons have employed an extremely run-heavy attack since Week 1, with quarterback David Renard rarely having to pass more than a handful of times per game.
Instead, Flowery Branch has depended on consistent defense and a three-headed running back committee featuring Jaizen Ellingham, Chandler White and Chase Dial-Watson. If Chestatee can’t slow down the run game, it’s going to be a long night for the War Eagles.
“I think the line of scrimmage is going to be a huge matchup. They’re very strong up front, and we’re kind of young up front,” Conley added. “Our group is going to have to play very good for us to have a chance.”
In a region that houses four top 10 teams in Class 4A, every region matchup is important, and this one is no different. With both teams still eyeing playoff aspirations, Friday’s result will go a long way to deciding which teams will come out of Region 7-4A.
If Flowery Branch can continue playing the way it has so far this season, Hall likes his team’s chances — both this week and further down the road.
“I’m proud of the way we’re playing,” Hall said. “If we can continue to improve each and every week, I feel good about where we are and our team.”