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Friday November 24th, 2017 2:16AM

Ben Hall leaves Jefferson to take over Flowery Branch

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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FLOWERY BRANCH — Ben Hall helped mold Jefferson football into a consistent, state-level powerhouse; now he hopes to take Flowery Branch back to that same position.

The coach that led the Dragons to 44 wins over four seasons opted this week to take over a Flowery Branch program that once put up similar numbers but has not reached the postseason in the last three years.

Flowery Branch Principal Dr. Jason Carter announced Wednesday that they have selected Hall to take over the Falcons, pending Hall County Board of Education approval at its next meeting on Monday.

Flowery Branch Athletic Director Jimmy Lawler said they got their man.

"We got the guy we wanted. He was at the top of our list," said Lawler, who received over 200 applications, nearly half from out-of-state. "We had a lot of great applicants, some with multiple state titles in various places. But we knew Ben from when he was here. He's a high-character man who will mold our players both on and off the field. He'll be able to motivate the community and help us get back to where we were four or five years ago."

Hall took control of Jefferson following the retirement of Hall of Fame coach T McFerrin, who won the Class AA championship with the Dragons in 2012. In four seasons he compiled an impressive 44-8 record that included two region championships (8-AAAA in 2016, 8-AAA in 2014) and four GHSA state playoff appearances, including the 2016 Class AAAA semifinals and quarterfinal appearances in 2013-14. Jefferson also reached the 2015 second round. Prior to becoming head coach of the Dragons in 2013 Hall served as the team’s offensive coordinator for four seasons, including during the state championship campaign.

This will not be Hall's first coaching foray at the Branch, however. He also served as Flowery Branch offensive line coach in 2008 -- a season in which the Falcons reached the Class AAA title game.

Hall returns to take over from former Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin, who stepped down in November following five seasons in which he went 29-23 and guided the Falcons to two playoff appearances. The Falcons went 3-7 in 2016. Griffin was the defensive coordinator for the Falcons during a seven-year state playoff streak (2005-11) -- a stint that saw Flowery Branch go 73-17, including the state championship game appearance and a state semifinal appearance in 2009. The Falcons also reached the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2011, all under the guidance of current Rabun County head coach Lee Shaw, who intitated the program in 2002 before leaving for Tiger in 2012.

"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the Flowery Branch football program," Hall said via press release. "My family and I will be returning to the community where I began my high school coaching career, and I could not be more appreciative of the FBHS administration for their confidence to allow me this opportunity. I would also like to thank the Jefferson community for eight wonderful years of serving their school. I will forever be grateful for my time there."

Hall also previously coached at the college level (2000-2002), serving as tight ends coach for the Furman Paladins of the Southern Conference of the FCS under coach Bobby Johnson, who is a current member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

"We think Ben will put us in a great position to be a very successful program," Lawler said.

Hall and his wife Diana have three children — Mason, age 8, Anna Claire, age 6, and Burton, age 4.

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