Typically, teams aren’t used to seeing Flanagan football still playing at this time of year. They are usually found on the hardwood, prepping for basketball season.
Don’t tell that to coach Devin Bush.
“It’s so strange that I walk around the locker room and it’s not enough to be 9-1 to them. They aren’t settled with being 9-1; they don’t even talk about it,” Bush said.
This is the first time in school history that Flanagan has qualified for the playoffs in football.
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However, the challenge gets tougher for the Falcons (9-1, 4-1 District 12-8A) as they head to Deerfield Beach on Friday night to take on the Bucks (10-0, 5-0 District 11-8A), who feature University of Miami commit Brandon Powell.
Powell has rushed for 1,280 yards (averaging 10.5 yards per carry) and 20 touchdowns so far this season, second best in Broward County to Piper’s Travis Liburd.
Deerfield coach Allen Jackson doesn’t think the workload will be a problem for him.
“Brandon is one of those special kids. He’s unstoppable. Even when he’s tired, he wants to keep going,” Jackson said.
Bush believes this is the perfect test for his defense going into the playoffs.
“It’s going to test us; [Powell’s] the perfect type of athlete. I want to see if we can step up to the plate,” Bush said. “Here’s a chance to go against that top level competition if you want to get to that level.”
Behind Powell’s strong play, the Bucks outscored opponents 419-114, including a 22-7 win over St. Thomas Aquinas last week to cap off a perfect regular season.
But Jackson knows that there is a lot of work left to do.
“I woke up the next morning and thought ‘Did this really happen?’ It’s like a dream come true,” Jackson said. “We enjoyed that day and night and that Saturday, we came back in and got to work. We have to forget 10-0; now we’re back to 0-0 like everyone else.”
Flanagan’s offense isn’t anything to brush off. Junior quarterback Ryan Stanley threw for 1,450 yards and 18 touchdowns with just four interceptions. His favorite target throughout the season was junior Emonee Spence, who caught 25 passes for 392 yards and seven touchdowns.
“[Stanley] doesn’t get rattled or excited.” Bush said jokingly. “It’s like, I just want to get something out of him besides ‘OK, alright, yeah, will do.’ Even though he does go out and do the things we ask him to do.”
Jackson knows that they will have to show Stanley different looks.
“They like to spread it around and mix things up,” Jackson said. “We’re going to have to put pressure on him to make decisions.”
The Falcons’ defense was also stingy, surrendering just 121 points this season, just over 12 per game.
Bush is trying to keep his team loose throughout this first week of playoff experience and plans to hold nothing back.
“We’ve got no pressure and nothing to lose,” Bush said. “Deerfield is a big name and they’re supposed to be here. We just have to go out and perform. We don’t expect to lose, you play Flanagan, you’re in for a fight.”