After last year’s frustrating 3-7 campaign, coach Donnie Webb and Franklin look to turn the page for 2018. The Rebels had an encouraging performance in last week’s Rutherford-Williamson Jamboree, knocking off Stewart’s Creek by a 14-6 score.
Here’s what to expect from Franklin in 2018.
Franklin’s improved offense hopes for more
Franklin couldn’t score for much of last season, tallying 10 or fewer points in four of 10 contests.
This season’s outlook seems brighter.
First, the Rebels ended 2018 on a high note, beating Spring Hill and Dickson County in their final two games, and scoring 38 and 31 points in them. That’s more of what Rebel fans expect; Franklin scored at least 21 in all but one game of 2016.
Second, there are identifiable playmakers.
Junior receiver Chancellor Bright (nine catches, a team-leading 179 receiving yards and three TDs last year) had some big moments against Stewart’s Creek. He’s rated a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247 Sports, and recently picked up a scholarship offer from Louisville.
“Chancellor’s really grown up,” Webb said. “Really, really proud of him, and obviously he’s getting a chance to play at the next level.”
There’s running back Matt Gaca, who led the team in every rushing category last year (166 carries, 874 yards, seven touchdowns, 5.3 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 64 yards. He had a scoring run against Stewart’s Creek last week.
Webb is bullish on senior receiver John Conner Craig, who led Franklin with 24 catches and had 221 total rushing and receiving yards last season.
“He’s had a really good summer for us,” Webb said. “We think that will open up the box for us a little bit.”
Webb went into summer practice with two quarterback candidates.
Last year’s backup quarterback, junior Josh Nichols (11 of 22, 138 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions), seems to be the starter. But Webb’s given two quarterbacks time before, and sophomore Connor Beavon could see time.
Lineman Christian Moolman returns, and will play both ways.
Experienced defense should also improve
Webb starts the defensive conversation with linebacker Khani Kelton, who ranked third on th eteam in tackles, and added 4.5 stops for loss in 2017.
“He’s darn-near been starting since he was a sophomore,” Webb said. “ We’re expecting him to be a good high school football player.”
Webb thinks his secondary is the bright spot.
Gaca, a defensive back, led the team in total tackles (46) and ranked second in pass break-ups (four) while adding 2.5 stops for loss and an interception.
Juniors Guy Lipscomb (12 tackles), Jett Wilson (a team-leading eight pass break-ups, 22.5 tackles, two interceptions) and senior Cooper Palk (10 tackles, one break-up) are also keys.
Moolman, an all-region defensive lineman, ranked second in the team with 41 tackles and tied for second with six tackles for loss.
Junior linebacker John Kirkpatrick (27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one interception) returns, as does Gabe Tyner (11 stops, three for loss).