FHS athletes to play at state game
Published 11:14 am Saturday, July 6, 2013
FRANKLIN—Two seniors will have an opportunity to represent for the City of Franklin in the Virginia High School League All-Star game this Friday.
JaVonte Blacknall, 19, middle linebacker, and Travis Brown, 18, running back, will report Sunday to the practice camp for the eastern squad in the all-star game. The game is set for Friday in Hampton’s Darling Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
“These two young men will represent the city, the program and God,” Franklin head football Coach Darren Parker said. “They are playing in this game because of their teammates, good parents and God.”
Blacknall, who will attend Hampton University, said that while playing in this game was a goal he had at the beginning of the season, when he found out, he still had butterflies in his stomach.
“I was just thankful for my teammates because if not for them, I would not have been able to do half of the stuff that I did on defense,” he said. “I’m honored to play in the game.”
Brown, who is attending Norfolk State University, likewise thanked his teammates, knowing that without the blocking from the offensive line, he wouldn’t have had the production needed to make this team.
“I think it is a great honor to play against some of the great athletes in the single A, double A and triple A division,” Brown said. “I was excited when I found out. I’m just ready to put on the pads and go to work.”
Parker said that Blacknall was the leader of the defense this past season, racking up 95 tackles and intercepting the ball three times.
“We are a swarming defense,” Parker said. “Everyone has a role to play, but JaVonte was the guy cleaning up and setting the tone.”
Blacknall started playing football when he was 9.
“After I saw how fun and how dedicated you have to be, I knew I wanted to play football,” he said. “You make a lot of friends and you build leadership, as well as learn how to be there for your teammates. You also have to be dedicated in the classroom — you can’t let your grades drop.”
Brown, who was the offensive player of the year in his division, rushed for 2,586 yards and ran the football in for 58 touchdowns.
“He is just a phenomenal athlete,” Parker said. “He is full-speed all of the time. In practice, the coaches will tell him to slow it down, but he’ll say, ‘Coach, I can’t walk on Friday nights.’”
Brown said that his friends influenced him to play when he was in the 7th grade, but that he didn’t play it as seriously until the 10th grade.
“I love it,” Brown said. “Football to me is a way of life.”
In life, it helps provide Brown with a strong sense of determination.
“In everything I do, I’ve got to be a winner, and my team has to be winners,” he said.
For helping the team be winners, both Blacknall and Brown are also thinking of the future, in using their influence to impact upcoming players.
“That’s very important,” Brown said. “They see what we do, and it makes them want to do it even better. It gives them drive and determination.”
Parker said both young men have been great leaders both on the football field, in the classroom and in the community.
“They are great students with great character — you have to be well rounded,” Parker said. “It has been an honor to coach them.”