Friday May 29th, 2015 12:19AM

Branch boys ready to soar again as region play begins tonight (Video)

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
FLOWERY BRANCH -- No one at Flowery Branch is sugar coating it. There's nothing fun about 0-2.

Just don't expect the Falcons to sulk about their early-season stumbles.

In fact, coach Chris Griffin says his team is doing just the opposite and are champing at the bit to get back on the field and re-prove themselves as Region 8-AAAAA begins on Friday at Cedar Shoals in Athens.

"I'm telling you we're a healthy football team right now emotionally," Griffin said. "They know what they've got to fix and we're they have to improve. We're ready to start region play."

Griffin knew the perils in opening the 2012 campaign against two fellow highly-regarded programs in Northside, Warner Robins (currently No. 2 in Class AAAAA) and West Forsyth (currently No. 9 in Class AAAAAA), and while he admits he'd much rather be 2-0, he feels the two contests have served a purpose and have put the Falcons in a stronger position for the start of the region campaign.

"It could have been very easy for me to schedule some teams I knew we could beat, but I wanted to find out where we're at, what kind of football team we are," Griffin said. "As crazy as it sounds I think we're a better football team right now at 0-2 than we would be at 2-0. That may seem very odd. But I feel like our guys have learned lessons because of who we have played versus playing some lesser opponents. We're in not as bad of shape as some people may think."

The Falcons get a chance to start over tonight, as they trek to Athens to face an improved Cedar Shoals. Access North Georgia sports editor Morgan Lee caught up with Griffin and his players as they prepared for the challenge. To watch a video preview of the game and Flowery Branch, simply scroll down and click play.

Flowery Branch hopes to show it is still very much a contender tonight, but the Falcons know that won't be easy against a fast-rising Cedar Shoals squad that is 2-0 for the first time since 2007. The Jaguars are under a new head coach in Chris Davis, and the changes he has wrought have invigorated a team that has fallen short of its potential in recent years.

"They're a much improved football team, as improved as anybody we have faced from last year," Griffin said. "They've got a new coach, phenomenal athletes, they're big up front; they've got confidence; they're 2-0. I've said the past two years if they ever go to spread they're going to be dangerous, well here they are, and they've got athletes. Defensively they fly around, and they're much more disciplined... scary good."

The Jaguars have been led by running back Adrian Washington, who rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-28 victory over Elbert County last week.

Falcons senior linebacker Jacob Allen knows it will be a chore containing an offense that is averaging 28 points per game so far. Yet it's a task he is relishing.

"We're preparing on looking at our keys and being very fundamentally sound on defense," Allen said. "Their offense has gotten a lot better; they have a lot of size up front; they're backfield's pretty quick."

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Kevin Tarr has a plan he believes will put the Falcons in good stead, as they head on the road for a key contest.

"If you go out with a strong bang something good will come out in the end," Tarr said. "The hard work pays off. We've just got to keep working hard, keep fighting."

And after the last two weeks, everyone involved with Flowery Branch says there is plenty of fight to come from the Falcons.

"Our guys know what to do; it's just a matter of doing exactly what we worked on out on the practice field," Griffin said. "Our guys are ready."

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Waters-Wilkins Stadium, Athens
-- RADIO: AM 550
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost to West Forsyth 21-14 last week.
-- CEDAR SHOALS (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Elbert County 35-38 last week.
-- HISTORY: Flowery Branch leads the series 2-0. The Falcons won the last meeting, 49-7 in 2011.
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