Franklin drew an at-large bid to the 2013 TSSAA playoffs with its 8-2 record and will travel to Gallatin Friday night to play 8-2 Station Camp, a No. 1 seed and AAA District 9 winner.
Franklin fell from undefeated and on the way to District Championship to barely making the playoffs in two quick weeks. Fortunes change quickly and unmercifully in high school football.
But after two losses in two weeks to longtime district rivals, Friday night offers redemption against an unknown opponent.
Station Camp remains largely mysterious. The teams played no common schools. Maxpreps ranks Franklin as the No. 36 in Tenn. and Station Camp No. 20. But rankings count for little once the ball leaves the tee.
The real battle this week will be fought within each player on the Franklin squad. The team has not come back from a loss and won this season. The players must be hungry for redemption, and must be able to taste victory, if they hope to win.
Sure, Station Camp averages 36 points per game and gives up 22. And, sure, Franklin scores 30 and gives up 15.
Franklin can win this game, or really any game, it wants. It proved that during its 8-game winning streak to open the season.
The Rebels just were not ready for a team to actually push back, so Ravenwood won by one and the next week Independence shocked them by one.
Franklin must be closer to perfection and yet so far from it than any team in a very long time. Two points separate the Rebels from 10-0 and 8-2. In many ways Franklin is better than Independence and Ravenwood, the two teams it lost to.
Joe Critchlow can go pass for pass with almost anyone in the state, and threw 23 TDs against only 4 INTs this season.
Colton Black, who ran for 783 yards and 10 TDs this year can run against any team.
Austin Winstead, with 5 INTs, and Jackson Michie, with 8 sacks and 59 tackles, can lead the charge on defense to stop any opposing offense.
The question of course is what can they do as a team?
The answer will be available for all to see by the end of Friday night.