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Posted: Friday, September 13th 2013 at 2:29am

Falcons ready to get back to winning ways

By Morgan Lee Editor
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The Flowery Branch defense converges on a ball carrier during a contest played last season. / photo: Amy Kellogg
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Flowery Branch football has been in tight spots before -- just last season in fact.

And that’s why the Falcons are not even close to hitting the panic button as they prepare for Friday’s showdown with Cedar Shoals.

Yes Flowery Branch is 0-2, but the Falcons know that that mark could end up being a strength if they use the experience wisely. For example look no further than 2012 when the Branch bounced back from the same record to win eight straight games and their first ever solo region championship.

“Everyone outside the program tends to get panicky in situations like this, but we’re not panicking,” Falcons coach Chris Griffin said. “We learned a lot from those first two games, and we’ve grown a lot in that time.”

And with both losses coming against non-region foes, Flowery Branch also knows that it can play its way right back into the same position in Region 8-AAAAA.

Griffin has been quick to let his team know, however, that, just because the Falcons did it a year ago, does not mean that the script will go exactly the same in 2013.

“You can’t just assume that because we did it last year that we’ll do it again this year,” Griffin said. “I told the guys this week that you know you can do it, but don’t just rely on it to happen. You’ve got to make it happen.”

In order to start that process, the Falcons must find a way past Cedar Shoals on Friday at the Branch.

The Jaguars are also off to a 0-2 start after falling to Hart County and Elbert County, but Griffin says they are far from a pushover and could be a handful.

“They’re big, athletic and well-coached,” Griffin said. “They have just had some issues dealing with adversity. If they figure out how good they can be, they’ll be pretty scary for sure.”

The Falcons will look to bring the lessons learned in losses against now-Class AAAAA No. 1 Northside-Warner Robins and Class AAAAAA program West Forsyth, to bear this week, especially on defense – where a young group is finding its feet.

“We really only had two starters back on defense,” Griffin said. “That experience they have had has been big. They’ve made mistakes, but I think they’ve made some big steps.

“The main thing is that we’re learning we can play with anybody -- we just have to execute and learn how to finish games.”

The Falcons watched West Forsyth score two late touchdowns to pull away in last week’s 35-21 outcome, while allowing 28 points on the road against an imposing Northside attack.

“We need to have some success early and finish plays and drives and that will lead us to finishing a game,” Griffin said. “We can’t let up or relax at all. If we can do that, we’ll gain some of that swagger back.”

One factor that could also help the Falcons is the development of freshman running back Jeremiah Goss.

In his second game of varsity play, Goss showed flashes of dominance, carrying for 128 yards and two touchdowns, which can only aid an offense looking to replace a standout rusher from the 2012 season in Justin Curry.

“He’s starting to become a weapon people have to respect,” Griffin said. “He’s to the point already where we can rely on him to get positive yards and protect the ball on every carry.”

Goss’ rise can only help an offense that is replacing a number of key players at the skill positions.

“We’ve played against some very good teams and had some good things happen, but we need a win right now,” Griffin said. “The kids need to see the fruits of their labor. They’re ready for it.”

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Falcons Field, Flowery Branch
-- RADIO: 550 AM
-- CEDAR SHOALS (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost to Elbert County 27-19 last week.
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost to West Forsyth 35-21 last week.
-- HISTORY: Flowery Branch won the last meeting 45-27 last year in Athens. Flowery Branch leads the series 3-0, all coming in the last three seasons. Jaguars 3 in last six road games. Falcons have dropped their last two games at Falcons Field.
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