With all the great accomplishments in Flowery Branch High’s relatively short history playing football, this season may end up taking the cake. This year, the Falcons are off to their first 7-0 start in school history, despite having a new signal caller after the last of the remarkably-talented Shaws graduated, a new running back after last year’s star running back moved to North Hall, and moving up a classification in competition.
That’s three elements, when lumped together, that make their story quite remarkable. Now, if things go according to plan, Flowery Branch (7-0, 7-0 Region 8-AAAA) will have a chance to win their first region title in school history the final week of the regular season against 2009 Class AAAA state finalist Clarke Central (7-0, 7-0) at Falcon Field.
Just to put things into context, Flowery Branch has shown a knack over the years for winning when the cards were stacked against it. The same program that rightly earned the title ‘Road Warriors’ for winning a combined seven playoff games on the road in 2008 and 2009, has continued to win with great defense, a solid running game and smart quarterback play.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Flowery Branch this week with a trip to Loganville (5-2, 5-2) on Friday night. The past two weeks, the Red Devils have destroyed Cedar Shoals and Winder-Barrow.
But if history is any indication, I don’t think Falcons coach Lee Shaw is going to be harping on what the competition has done. They probably haven’t even talked extensively about playing the Gladiators the final week of the regular season. Flowery Branch is probably just going about its business quietly and knocking off the coming opponents one at a time.
I’ve always considered coach Shaw astute at leading a high school program, but this year he’s done a remarkable job.
The thing that really separates this Flowery Branch team from others is that it really has no star athletes that are the centerpiece of the program. The Falcons have had players in the past with current Georgia Tech players Izaan Cross and Daniel Drummond, or Jaybo and Connor Shaw that people could point to and say that is why they are winning.
Who are the star players at Flowery Branch this season?
Falcons quarterback Austin Brown has done a fine job leading this offense, but can’t get it done on his own.
Likewise, Jeremy Haley has done more than an adequate job of filling in for the departed Imani Cross, but is not going to win football games without the effort of a gritty offensive line.
The only lock to play Division-I player on this Falcons roster is kicker/punter Will Monday, arguably the best kicker to ever play in Hall County, who will play at Duke University next season.
Maybe the absence of a superstar player at Flowery Branch is a blessing in disguise. The Falcons don’t saddle their hopes of a run deep into the postseason to just one player. It may sound overly simplistic, but it’s a total group effort at Flowery Branch.
Now, all fans have an eye to South Hall to see what the ‘Road Warriors’ have in store for fans this season.
Trust me, if they can pull through with a region title this season, it will go down as one of the great stories all-time in Northeast Georgia.
Bill Murphy is a sports writer for The Times. Follow him at Twitter.com/gtimesbmurphy.