Defending state champion Blessed Trinity (6-0, 2-0) will travel northeast this Friday night to battle Flowery Branch (6-0, 2-0), its new Region 7-AAAA adversary.
Flowery Branch got bumped down from Class AAAAA in the offseason, a result of the GHSA’s mid-year reclassification cycle. Head coach Ben Hall took over the Falcons program last season and they’d follow up 2016’s sub-par 3-7 finish by reeling off a 9-3 campaign. The running back tandem of Malik Drayton and Malik Damons was a huge part of Flowery Branch’s success last year, but both players graduated. This year, it has been sophomore Jaizen Ellingham pacing the backfield, and stepping up to fill the void. Ellingham toted the ball 22 times and compiled 150 yards with two scores in Flowery Branch’s big 28-19 win over rival Gainesville on Sept. 21.
Junior quarterback Elijah Gainey is also in the midst of a breakout season. Gainey’s go-to receiver is Jalin Strown and this duo will be a huge factor in Friday’s matchup with the Titans.
Blessed Trinity’s elite defense and pass rush can be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. If Gainey doesn’t get protection to look downfield to set up the deep game, Flowery Branch is going to be in trouble. It will be crucial for the Falcons to force Blessed Trinity to respect the deep ball in this matchup.
In red zone situations, the Titans’ resiliency is going to be another challenge for Flowery Branch and nothing is going to come easy, or without laser focus and flawless execution.
When it comes to Flowery Branch’s defense, the Falcons will have to try and stop one of the most talented athletes in the state: Steele Chambers. The Ohio State commit has been unstoppable this season—taking his 68 carries for 632 yards (9.3 ypc) and 15 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound senior also plays linebacker and will be an ever-present mismatch in this game.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the schools, but the head coach’s have stood across the sideline recently before. Hall led the Jefferson program to tremendous success before going to Flowery Branch. His Dragons fell 38-12 to McFarlin’s Titans in the second round of the 2015 state playoffs and were defeated 28-21 in overtime of the team’s quarterfinal clash the previous year.