by Michael Bradshaw, recruit757
In Group A Eastern Section Quarterfinal play on Friday, the undefeated Franklin Broncos played host to the 6-5 Covington Cougars. The Broncos have outscored their opponents this season by a near 450 point margin using numerous ball carriers. This game turned out to be a carbon copy of so many others from earlier in the season.
After a four hour ride, the Cougars came out energetic in pre-game warm-ups only to be quieted early in the game. Winning the coin toss and electing to receive, the Cougars were not able to gain any yardage and had to punt. During the punt attempt, Franklin’s Alston “Scoot” Cromwell got to the kicker and blocked the punt, giving the Broncos the ball on the Cougar 8-yard line. Franklin’s Travis “Smooth” Brown scored on the third & goal with a run play in the “dive” gap making it 7-0 early.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Cougars were able to return it deep into Bronco territory but had to settle for a field goal to make the score 7-3 in favor of Franklin. After a couple of short drives by each team, the first quarter ended with Covington nearing the Franklin end zone but with no change in the score.
With a couple unusual offensive formations and trick plays, Covington was able to run their senior speedster Troy Helton in for their only touchdown making the score Covington 10 and Franklin 7. On the following kickoff, the Broncos’ kick returner and star sophomore Marcus Stephens was tackled near his own 30-yard line setting up what looked to be another long drive. On the first play from scrimmage, junior running back Latrell “BulletTrain” Lane took flight 66 yards around the right side to the Cougar 4-yard line. Two plays later, senior RB Travis Brown broke across the goal line for his second touchdown. The point after attempt by Cromwell was good to make the score Franklin 15 and Covington 10. From there, the rout was on.
During the next Cougar possession, Franklin’s Stephens intercepted the Covington pass and returned it for a touchdown. The points were taken off the board by a block in the back flag during the return. The two teams battle back and forth near midfield for a couple of series before Bronco Travis Brown was able to break free for 52 yards and his third touchdown. The Bronco defense ran rampant during the final 8 minutes of the half with Javonte Blacknall and Dominique Gainey making sacks and tackles in the Cougar backfield regularly.
On the next punt, Stephens of Franklin, returned it 62 yards only to have it called back for personal foul by one of his teammates. After a six play drive into Cougar territory, Blacknall was able to go up the middle for a 24 yard touchdown to make the halftime score 29-10.
The opening kickoff of the second half was returned 62 yards by Bronco sophomore tight end Corey Porter for the next Franklin points. Covington drove back downfield to Franklin’s 13 yard line before being intercepted by Stephens again. There was not much more excitement for the visiting team after this turnover while the home contingent watched as Darren Parker’s Broncos showed why they are looked at as “a special group of men” by their coach.
Franklin’s Brown finished with four touchdowns, Stephens with 3 interceptions and 1 touchdown. Sophomore QB LaQuadric “Quad” Pittman lead a masterful game and threw very few times because of the success of the numerous ball carriers he has behind him. Bronco senior nose tackle Xavier “X” Freeman recovered a fumble in the second half and had 2 sacks. Freshman running back Javonte “Tupac” Baker finished out the game in the offensive backfield adding a touchdown.
Franklin looks to be ready to capture their third championship since 2004. They are now a step closer to Parker’s preseason prediction of two championships over the next three years. The Franklin roster is filled equally between the senior class and talented underclassmen that will have lot of game and playoff experience for the future. In the team huddle after the game, the Bronco coaching staff gloated on the team effort given by so many individuals. While Head Coach Parker gave some credit to his team, he was quick to include God as the biggest reason for their success, a reason why he is loved by players, parents and school administration. At Franklin High School, there seems to be a very bright future that is just beginning.
#1 Franklin (12-0) will next host #4 seed Alta Vista (10-2) on Friday, November 23 at 7 p.m.
– Michael Bradshaw