After a 10-3 season in 2016, Franklin is a bit of a mystery for 2017.
And while the Rebels’ 7-0 win over 3-A Fairview in last week’s Williamson County Jamboree was hardly a dominating performance, coach Donnie Webb is a respected football mind who gets the most out of his talent.
In other words, even if the Rebels lost 26 seniors, don’t count Franklin out.
Here’s a look at what we might expect this fall.
Wray, Hendry lead a run-first attack
The Rebels are in a little bit of a tough spot to begin the season.
“What’s unique is the percentage of production (lost),” Webb said. “We don’t have a lot of experience returning.
But don’t feel too sorry for Webb, as left tackle Max Wray, a four-star recruit, is his primary building block on offense. The 6-foot-7, 295-pound Wray, an Ohio State commitment, is rated as the No. 9 player in Tennessee and No. 242 nationally.
Seniors Kyle Means (5-foot-10, 250 pounds) and Hunter Waldrum (6-feet, 230 pounds) join Wray as returning starters on the line.
“We want to lean on those guys and let the quarterback be the focal point of the offense,” Webb said.
Quarterback Carter Hendry is the guy who’ll direct the Rebels’ spread-option attack. The senior ran for 578 yards and threw for 827 more, and accounted for 19 total touchdowns despite splitting time.
Running back Michael Crowther, who scored the only points in last week’s Jamboree, will also be important.
“Our biggest concern is finding a running back. … Right now, it’s a committee of players, and we may run with a committee all year to get help with our quarterback, so he’s not having to tote the load the whole time,” Webb said.
Rebels switch defensive alignment to fit personnel
Webb has switched the Rebels’ primarily alignment from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
“We feel like it fits the type players we have. Other than those offensive linemen, we don’t have big linemen defensively,” Webb said. “We’ve gone to a 3-4 slant team, other than a 4-3, sit-in-there-and-play-gaps (approach).”
Means will be the nose in that system.
Christian Moolman, a 205-pound part-time starter in 2016, will also start on the line.
Junior Khani Kelton projects as the star of the linebacking corps.
“We’re expecting a lot of plays (from him.) He started last year,” Webb said.
Webb believes that starting outside linebacker Price Wynn, a senior, can play small-college ball.
Gentry Neese is the only returning starter in the secondary, though Garrison Glover played a lot.
“Learning how to create turnovers, which we were good at in the past, (is a concern),” Webb said. “We’ve got to get there again.”
Kicking stars lead special teams
Webb says special teams will be a strength, and thinks that punter Landon Carter and kicker Christopher Miller-Hill could play collegiately. Miller-Hill hit all but one of his 58 PATs last year, and added nine field goals.
It’s not a star-studded team. Wray is the only player committed to a college program on any level, though Webb believes there will be more.
If anybody knows how to get the most out of his team, it’s Webb, who has a track record of success in his six seasons at Franklin. Even if the answers aren’t obvious, expect Franklin to become a tough out by season’s end as the newer players get accustomed to taking on bigger roles.