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Game of The Week: Flowery Branch at Ridgeland

Ridgeland coach Cortney Braswell gives his team motivational messages at Monday's practice. Senior Dylan Swanson has a special story. Swanson didn't play in high school until his final season. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

The Ridgeland Panthers face Flowery Branch (8-2) Friday in the first round of the Georgia high school football playoffs.

And the Panthers have a senior who has a special story, he didn't play high school football until his senior season.

At practice Monday, coach Cortney Braswell gathered his team together for some motivational messages.

"Because we're at the last thing here now, all you've got is one left that is promised to you, that's it,"

Braswell told his team, specifically the seniors.

And senior Dylan Swanson has a special story.

He didn't play football at all in high school until this year. Swanson explained why, "I think my biggest thing was the new coach coming in. And senior year. It was really a why not situation."

Swanson plays outside linebacker.

And in only one year playing, Coach Braswell said he leads the team in sacks. Swanson had no idea. "I do? I didn't know that I led. That's pretty cool."

As you can see, he's a humble kid.

He played football back in middle school.

But football is not his favorite. "Wrestling, that's just my sport."

He tries to play aggressively, but he's not the fastest guy on the team.

However he loves playing on the edge and getting to the quarterback. "I love it, it's great." When asked what he liked the most, Swanson replied, "I don't know, probably the simplicity of it, just because I haven't played in so long, it really fits for right now. It's all around fun. I just enjoy it."

Now back to Braswell's practice messages to his team, "You cannot win until you play well. We're still waiting to play well. Everybody with me on that?" "Yes sir," his team answered.

The Panthers three losses are against Calhoun, Troup County and Pickens County, top shelf teams in Georgia football. Braswell said that top of competition has made his team better. "We feel like we're really tested. We feel like we've learned from the school of hard knocks. Took some really really tough losses against some really good football teams. Our three losses, our opponents combined for a 29-1 record."

It will take a huge effort to topple Flowery Branch. Braswell's final words to his team Monday, "We reap effort, we reap execution, we reap intensity, all right. We reap all those things, we will sow victory on Friday night. If we don't, we won't."

Well said.

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