Flowery Branch sophomore quarterback Elijah Gainey improves weekly
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - It's been three years since the Flowery Branch Falcons (5-1) have qualified for the GHSA football playoffs, but thanks in part to first-year head coach Ben Hall, that could change in 2017.
"Our goal is to get better each week," Hall said. "You'd like to think we could make some noise in the playoffs, but we don't talk about that with the players."
Part of Hall's coaching plan is to make sure his team is fresh- practices only last about an hour and forty-five minutes- but that doesn't mean his players watch the clock.
"We have to run them off the field at night because they enjoy being together and enjoy the success we're having so far this season."
That success has a lot to do with the Falcons tight-knit senior class, and the play of the two Maliks- running backs Malik Drayton and Malik Damons. Damons has rushed for over 800 yards so far in 2017, while Drayton is close behind with nearly 600 yards on the ground. Add to that the weekly improvement of sophomore quarterback Elijah Gainey and Flowery Branch is a force to be reckoned with in region 8-AAAAA which features eleven-time state champion, Buford. The Falcons and Wolves are on a collision course with a regular season finale at Flowery Branch which will likely decide the region.
The Falcons haven't experienced many big games in recent years, but a week four loss to Jefferson in raucous Memorial Stadium on the road might have been just what Hall's team needed to prepare for eventual high-stakes matchups in November---and possibly December.
"That was the first time these players have been in an environment like that. Jefferson knows how to win games in the fourth quarter and I think our kids definitely grew up a little bit that night," said Hall.
Flowery Branch has won two straight since that narrow 35-29 loss to Jefferson, and with three of their final four games at home, the Falcons are in great position to make the postseason with their passionate student section known as The Darkside cheering them on. Hall calls The Branch student section the best in the state, claiming nearly 500 students show up each week to support his team.
"That Darkside bunch, they take it to another level," Hall told us."They do this thing where they wave the flashlights on their phones altogether. I noticed it the other night and thought that was pretty cool."
Good Day Atlanta's Paul Milliken will host a pep rally at the school and present the Falcons with the Team of the Week trophy on Thursday morning during the 8 and 9 o'clock hours of the show. On Friday coach Hall's team hosts Walnut Grove (2-4) at Falcons Stadium.