With Flowery Branch and White County set to do battle Friday night at Falcons Field in a key Region 7-4A showdown for both teams, AcessWDUN and Friday Game Night caught up with both coaches to discuss the game, the region itself, and what they see as the possible keys to victory.
The Warriors (3-2, 0-1 Region 7-4A) are coming off a 35-20 to loss to No. 2-ranked Marist in a game that they kept close most of the way. For the Falcons (4-0, 0-0 Region 7-4A) it is their region opener after wrapping up their non-region schedule with a 35-21 win over Gainesville last week.
Flowery Branch coach Ben Hall:
On the importance of this game:
"In order for us to be as successful as we want to be in Region 7-4A, we need to win this ball game, and White County feels the same way, so it's going to be a battle and White County is much improved."
On defending Warriors' junior quarterback J. Ben Haynes:
"He is really firing on all cylinders and he's not only a threat with his arm, but he can run the ball as well and they're running him more. If you saw the Gainesville game last week, their quarterback had some yards on the ground, so we need to improve scheme-wise and contain (Haynes) this week and limit his big play opportunities."
On health of Flowery Branch RB's Jaizen Ellingham and Chandler White:
"In our offense, you don't ever feel like you have all your running backs completely healthy, because we do play a physical brand of ball and they get a lot of carries and they're going to be dinged on and off throughout the season. It's nice to have those two guys. They feed off each other and they're both very unselfish, coachable players. They both played well (against Gainesville)."
Keys to the game:
"If we contain (J. Ben Haynes) and we can protect the football and just move the chains offensively, I think we will take them out of their plan because they're a spread team and they want the ball and they want to run a lot of plays and they throw it all over the place. We can't give them any big plays."
White County coach Tim Cokely
On the Region 7-4A schedule:
"We're just trying to get our next first down. We're trying to go 1-0 this week. We play really good teams, so it makes it fun. It's why we do this; we love to compete, but these teams we're playing aren't just ranked in our classification, they're ranked in all classifications in our state, so it really gives us an opportunity to see where we are and see where we need to go if we want to be any good. Our guys have shown up and we've played hard. We've been in every ball game and certainly could be 5-0 and certainly could be probably less than that, but we're happy where we are."
On the Falcons' defense, which has allowed just 21 points all season:
"They're just a really good defense like the one we just played. They get to the ball really well and they do everything well. But that doesn't mean we don't have confidence offensively and we have a lot of confidence and we know what we're up against. You know, if a team's going to give up 21 points in their first four games, they're doing something right. Lord knows we haven't, we've given up a few more than that."
Keys to the game:
"As in most games in our classification and certainly in our region, we've got to match them up front offensively and defensively on the lines of scrimmage. If we don't play in our league on the line of scrimmage and we don't at least hold our own, we're not going to win and neither is anybody else. This game's no different. They're loaded with talent and coached well and so it'll come down to turnovers and tackling and things like that."