Broncos’ season turned on Sussex Central loss

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

FRANKLIN—Sometimes a team will talk about an important win during a season, a victory that inspires the team to greater heights. For the Franklin High School football team, a loss on Halloween night was the turning point in its season.

Coming into that game, Franklin had one loss: a tight game with Colonial Beach, which it lost on the last play of the game. The Broncos were shorthanded that night from player suspensions as a result of an incident in the previous week’s game against West Point.

But the 32-6 drubbing by Sussex Central was shocking. The Broncos were held to just 144 yards of offense, 69 on one play, and gave up 315 yards. Franklin’s offensive and defensive lines were beaten off the ball almost every down.

Instead of folding up the tents, the Broncos became more determined, according to head coach Darren Parker.

“That taught us that we have to come out every week with our ‘A’ game and make sure we are executing,” he said. “We can not come in and expect people to lay down for us. We have to be mentally as well as physically here every week. It was a gut check to let us know that everybody else wants it just as bad as we do.”

Since that loss, the Broncos have won four straight and have played particularly well on defense. During the week of practice after the loss to Sussex, the Bronco coaching staff gave the players a visualization to live by for the rest of the season.

“As a staff, we made adjustments. As far as the kids were concerned, we didn’t have to do a lot with them. We just told them, ‘Remember how it felt that Friday when someone else was celebrating on your field and make sure it doesn’t happen again,’ ” Parker said.

And it didn’t. The next week, Franklin throttled Windsor 34-0 at home in a game that had play off implications for the Dukes.

Then the Broncos faced Sussex Central again in Franklin in the first round of the Group A Region A Division 1 playoffs. Franklin pulled off a 26-0 win on a soggy field. The game was like night and day compared to the first meeting.

“What we did was we came out with our ‘A’ game and we were physically and mentally there,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away from Sussex because they are a good team. But that night, as a team and a coaching staff, we just refused to lose.”