Franklin High football is No. 1

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SALEM—Tarren Hailstock didn’t mind the long car ride to see the Franklin Broncos win the state championship.

“The four-hour trip was well worth it,” she said.

Fans and alumni of Franklin High traveled from all over Virginia to come out and support their team Saturday. While some drove farther than others, all came with the hope and optimism of being able to witness the Broncos win another state title. For fans coming from Franklin it was a long trip, but the closer they got to Salem, the more they said they could feel the excitement begin to build.

“I was pleasantly surprised at all the people that made it,” said Daniel Childress. “I mean, it was quite a hike from Franklin but I was not going to miss this game since it was only one-and-a-half to two-hour drive for me.”

Fans fought the elements that day and stayed in the stadium as temperatures never rose above freezing.

Clintwood’s fans may have had a greater number in attendance, but Franklin’s fans were more dedicated and into the game, Hailstock said.

“It was emotionally draining watching the game because we were on the edge of our seats the entire time,” she said. “I was scared at the end of the game as Clintwood had the ball during the last few minutes, but when we intercepted the ball I began crying. I was excited and started jumping up and down. I had so many emotions.”

Before the clock reached zero and Coach Darren Parker had received his Gatorade bath, members of the 2004 championship team and current students of Franklin High were jumping over the guardrail and down the 10-foot high wall to the field below to bask in the moment of what their team had just accomplished.

Fans and family of players wanted to celebrate with the players after the game but were withheld from rushing the field. Instead, fans were forced to wait patiently as the players received their participation medals and the championship trophy was awarded to the Broncos. After that, fans quickly rushed over to what became known as the grassy knoll. There, the team was allowed to leave the field and visit with their fans and family, their emotions poured out and a familiar sound rang out — that of Steve Ivey’s home made air horn, made of four car horns attached to an ATV battery.

“I wondered where he was,” said Senior Running Back Antonio Smith. “I did not hear him at all the entire game, and at the games this season he was always there blowing that horn when we entered the stadium and whenever we either scored, or made big plays. That always seemed to hype us up more. The win just did not feel right until I heard and saw him blowing that horn from his car.”

The guard at the gate told Ivey that no noisemakers were allowed in the stadium for the championship game.

“I was disappointed that I was not allowed to bring the horn into the stadium,” he said. “We have carried that horn to every field that they have played on since the 2004 season, so I told my wife and the guard at the gate I was going to blow that horn before the day was done. So, after the game was over I went out to the car and let it ring out to let the boys know I was there and to let the entire team know that I was proud of them.”