Franklin High School's varsity football team has managed to blow out most of the teams in Western North Carolina, putting up win after win. The 2013 FHS football team currently sits on top of the 3A/2A Western North Carolina Athletic Conference with an undefeated record of 10-0.
They began their season with a big win over the defending 1A State Champions, the Murphy Bulldogs, with a score of 41- 17. Big wins like their home opener would define the season thus far with only two close contests. The first came against the T.C. Roberson Rams on the road in the second week of play where Franklin was able to pull off the win 35-31. The next game came against the Pisgah Bears at home in the sixth week of play. The Panthers took that contest with a score of 14-13 when Pisgah missed what would be a game winning field goal as time expired. In the ensuing eight games, they outscored opponents 331- 97, winning in dominant fashion.
“We've had a very successful year so far,” said Head Coach Josh Brooks. “The seniors and the rest of the team have had a major impact on the school and the community. It's been a good season.”
The team was plagued with injuries early on in the season when former All-WNC running back Marquel Manning went down in the Murphy game with a torn medial collateral ligament. Lineman Daniel Marr suffered a broken leg when the Panthers took on the Enka Jets on Sept. 20. Running back Billy Higdon also sustained an injury early on in the season and missed the week five game with Brevard. All three players have since returned to action with Higdon taking the field in week six against Pisgah and Manning and Marr suiting up for last week's blowout win against the West Henderson Falcons.
“We've had ten straight weeks of play so to be healthy at this point in the season is big,” said Brooks. “These kids are eager to get back in there and play hard.”
Tomorrow night the Panthers will play their final game of the season. If they win, not only will they finish the season undefeated for only the second time in school history, but they will also lay claim to being the sole WNCAC champions. A loss would cause them to share that title with the team that would be handing them their only defeat of the season, the Tuscola Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers will enter tomorrow night's game with an impressive 8-2 record with their only losses coming from Roberson (27-18) and Pisgah (27-7), both of whom Franklin pulled out close wins.
“Tuscola is playing as good as I've seen them play since probably 2009. They've got a good quarterback and a good running back,” said Brooks. “They've got a lot riding on this game too. If they were to win they'd get a piece of the championship.”
If Franklin were to win, not only would they be the only WNCAC champions, but they would also clinch a number one seed in the 2A state playoffs and a home-field advantage. The team would benefit from having the added support of the community as they take on some of the best teams in the state, an advantage that Brooks is thankful for.
“I just want to thank the community and the school for all of the support they've given the team this season,” he said. “We've got 43 varsity players and some JV's that dress out with us each week and their support helps to motivate us.”
Franklin currently sits at the number two spot in the Associated Press 2-A rankings and the NCPreps poll for all N.C. teams. Tomorrow night's game will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Tuscola High School in Waynesville.