BROOKHAVEN, GA – The prelims are officially over and done with.
The War Eagles of Marist defeated Flowery Branch by a 20-0 from Hughes Spalding Stadium, which sets up a clash next week for the region title. The winner of Region 7 of AAAA will be whoever comes out on top between Blessed Trinity and Marist.
The teams traded drives in the first quarter. The Falcons tried to capitalize on a Jalen Strown interception of War Eagle quarterback Connor Cigelske. Jamal Larche’s field goal effort went wide right.
Marist got on the scoreboard in the second as Brendan Farrell connected from 33 yards out and Lincoln Parker ran in a 15-yard score to make the Eagles up 10-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Flowery Branch had their best chance to score with back-up quarterback David Renard at the helm. He replaced Elijah Gainey, who left for an undisclosed reason. Gainey passed for about 100 yards in the first half. Renard didn’t look uncomfortable at all. He threw two deep balls, one to Strown and the other to D. J. Brown, and the Falcons had a first-and-goal at the Marist 9. But the Eagles stiffened, and a 4th-and-5 pass from Renard went through the back of the end zone.
From there, Marist just ground out the game, going on several long drives. Farrell connected on his second field goal, from 37 yards out, and Mitchell Owen put the finishing touches on the victory, weaving through a myriad of Falcon defenders to score from 20 yards out.
Marist head coach Alan Chadwick was pleased with the victory. “The fact their quarterback went out at halftime and didn’t come back certainly was a factor,” he said. “I was real proud of our defensive coaches, defensive players. They played hard and came up with a lot of big plays, and we got a good shutout.”
Both Marist and Blessed Trinity are undefeated in the region, and the winner will be declared champion. It’s a rematch of last year’s AAAA Championship, won the Titans. In three previous meetings, Blessed Trinity has won two. In both regular season meetings, the margin of victory was two points or less.
This game will be Marist’s tenth straight without a bye, which comes in the season’s last Friday. Chadwick, the leading active coach in Georgia with 373 wins, isn’t concerned about his team’s conditioning. “We’re in shape,” he said. “I’m worried about them beat up. It’s been a long haul to this point. We have to find a way and regroup next week and come back strong. We want to have a good ball game.”
With the loss, Flowery Branch drops to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the region with games remaining against West Hall and Denmark. The Falcons are looking squarely at a three seed and a road game in the first round of the state tournament.

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