The Flowery Branch High School football team has somewhat of a different look this fall, but the results in region play have been the same.
The Falcons will welcome Winder-Barrow High School this Friday in a Region 8-AAAAA matchup. Flowery Branch (4-2 overall, 4-0 in region) will look to stay on course for a possible region title with a win. For the WBHS Bulldoggs (0-5, 0-3), the game will be another in a line of tough opponents as the WBHS program looks to end a losing streak which dates back to 2009.
First year Flowery Branch head coach Chris Griffin saw his team defeat Apalachee 30-20 last week after falling behind 14-3 at halftime. The Falcons played a tough non-region schedule this season with games against No. 1-ranked Northside Warner Robins and Class AAAAAA foe West Forsyth.
Since then, Flowery Branch has returned to its winning ways with wins against Cedar Shoals, Loganville, Salem and Apalachee. The final three games for the Falcons against Heritage, Clarke Central and Gainesville will likely determine the Region 8-AAAAA champion. Those four schools, at this juncture, are the favorites to take the four playoff spots from the region.
“We still have a ways to go,” Griffin said Monday night. “We hope our best football is still ahead of us.”
The first-year Falcon head coach said WBHS is “definitely getting better.”
“They are better than what they were last year,” Griffin said. “They have some good athletes and are funadmentally very sound. They are causing other teams some concern.”
Even with bigger games, on paper at least, coming up Griffin said the FBHS coaching staff will not allow the Falcon players to overlook any opponent.
“Any teams can really beat any team in this region,” Griffin said following Monday’s practice session. “It’s one of the toughest regions in state top to bottom.”
While in his first season as head coach, Griffin said the transition from defensive coordinator has not been a difficult one.
“I wasn’t coming in from another school,” he said. “This has been home to me for 11 years. I am just in a different role. We have a great group of players and a great coaching staff. When you have good people and are surrounded by good people it makes it easier. It has been a fun experience the past nine months in this new role.”
The Falcons enter the game as healthy as they have been since the beginning of the 2012 season.
“We are as healthy as we’ve been all year,” Griffin said. “We feel fortunate for that.”
Lee Shaw, who was the previous head coach of Flowery Branch, is now at Rabun County and has the Wildcats at 4-1 this season. Benji Harrison, the offensive coordinator for the Falcons in 2011, is now head coach at Jackson County and has the Panthers at 4-2 and at a surprising 2-1 in Region 8-AAA.
Even with somewhat of a revamped coaching staff, Flowery Branch has once again emerged as a contender for the region title this fall and will likely battle Heritage, Clarke Central and Gainesville for the top spot.