Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

FRANKLIN—The Franklin High Broncos were welcomed home with open arms after winning the Group A Division 1 championship title Saturday by beating Clintwood 28-20.

The team — nearly two hours late because of terrible weather on the long drive back — was given a police escort into the city and greeted by Broncos fans gathered in the school gymnasium after their return from Salem. They arrived at about 11:30 p.m.

“It was a really great turnout,” said Mayor Jim Councill. “People waited late into the night to cheer them home.”

Interim Superintendent Bev Rabil went to the impromptu pep rally and said she was happy with the players’ sportsmanship. “I’m proud, very proud,” Rabil said Monday. “I was really pleased with the outcome (of the game). I thought both sides played a very clean game. Our boys did an extremely good job. It is reflective of good discipline, good teamwork and good leadership by the coaching staff.”

As athletic director of Franklin High School, Mona Sumblin said Tuesday that she feels the way any person in her position would feel.

“I’m excited. It’s off the chain,” she said. “Any time you win a state championship you are as excited as you can be. What else can I say?”

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, a proclamation was issued from the city highlighting the significance of the Broncos’ achievement.

“I’m so proud of this team’s effort and support of each other,” said Councill, who played quarterback for Franklin High in 1963. “They accomplished what we only dreamed about.”

School Board Chairman Bill Scarboro said he hopes the victory created an experience the players can benefit from in the future.

“They (the team) demonstrated how you can have a dream and use your mind, heart and body to achieve that dream,” Scarboro said. “I think Coach Darren Parker, along with the rest of his staff, has been key in helping them understand that. Aside from all the celebration, I hope that they’ve learned a lesson that they can take with them the rest of their lives.”

The revelry continues Friday with a pep rally in the Franklin High School Gymnasium at 1:45 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.