Franklin runs past Windsor as showdown with Southampton looms

Published 12:51 pm Saturday, October 31, 2015

Franklin running back Markeem Tyler avoids a tackle in the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Windsor. The freshman rushed for 191 yards in the Broncos’ 50-0 win. -- DIANE ZEIGLER | The Tidewater news

Franklin running back Markeem Tyler avoids a tackle in the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Windsor. The freshman rushed for 191 yards in the Broncos’ 50-0 win. — DIANE ZEIGLER | The Tidewater news

With the Backyard Brawl between Franklin and Southampton looming, the former easily dispatched Windsor, 50-0. The Broncos attempted only one pass in the game — a 52-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Darrien Duck to receive Natron Lee on the first drive of the game — and racked up nearly 300 yards of offense on the ground.

“Anytime you leave Friday night 1-0, it’s a good night,” Franklin head coach Darren Parker said. “My hat’s off to Windsor. Their kids kept fighting. We played a lot of young guys, so they got a lot of experience on the field. Our veterans, they played well tonight, too. So we’re happy. We enjoy this one tonight and put it behind us and get ready for Southampton.”

It was a tall task for the undermanned Dukes, who dealt with a litany of injuries and called upon a number of junior varsity players to fill the voids.

“The score didn’t go the way we wanted and we didn’t send the seniors out the way we wanted, but our effort was just [awesome],” Windsor head coach Chuck Parrish said. “It was just a good atmosphere and our kids played hard. I’m just proud of our kids and the way they played. The way they fought for each other was unbelievable. With the adversity our kids have faced with different injuries, and to come out and play tonight, it really makes you proud.”

Parker, admittedly looking toward next week’s game against the Indians, rested his starting running backs Quayshawn Jefferson and Javonte Baker as much as he could Friday evening, calling upon backup tailbacks Markeem Tyler, Jack Sykes, Lynn Lawson and Demarque White to carry the load.

“We’re planning for down the road,” Parker said. “We don’t want to be a team with only two backs. We want to make sure we get as many people on the field [as we can]. We know what the playoffs are all about, and our aim is to win a state championship. To win a state championship, you get guys ready. Once we get in deep in the playoffs and we need a guy, then he’s already used to the field.”

When the Dukes started to stack the box against the potent rushing attack, Duck found Lee in one-on-one coverage along the sideline. The pass was severely underthrown, but the Windsor defensive back mistimed his interception attempt and watched Lee walk into the end zone untouched.

“We want to make sure that we can pass,” Parker said. “We are a running team. We love running the football. To win in the playoffs, you have to have a running game and a strong defense, but we can throw. For those teams who are planning on putting nine or 10 in the box, that’s great. But we can throw the ball.”

Windsor, hoping to use the raucous senior night crowd to its advantage, nearly tied the game one play later. Receiver Devawn Cosbert took the subsequent kickoff up the sideline and into Franklin territory, where he was pushed out at the 40-yard-line with only one man to beat. The Dukes went three-and-out, however, and gave the ball back to Franklin.

Four-consecutive runs by Tyler moved the Broncos into Windsor territory, and Parker called upon the starter, Jefferson, to finish the drive. His three-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 16-0, and effectively ended any chance that he’d carry the ball again.

Windsor needed a big play from its senior signal caller to keep the score close, but Keshawn Reid was picked off on the first play of the drive as he attempted to find Cosbert running a streak 40 yards down field.

“We tried some things early,” Parrish said, “and we were just inches [away]. That kid makes a good play and tips it to their other guy, and it was just inches.”

After another Franklin rushing touchdown, Windsor found itself in plus territory. Once again, though, the drive stalled as Reid could not outrun the defenders crashing the pocket.

It was the Tyler show from there on in.

The freshman carried the ball seven times on Franklin’s next drive, setting up a Lawson touchdown from two yards out to get the running clock started.

“We can always get better,” Parker said. “We want to get down to zero penalties and make sure that every offensive play is designed to score. When you don’t score, there’s a breakdown somewhere. So, we’re going to go back to the film, even though we won, and we’re going to see why didn’t every play go for a touchdown. Was it effort? A missed block? We go back and work on those things.”

A 65-yard kick return by Windsor’s Reid gave the Dukes their first real threat of scoring of the game with two minutes left in the first half. But when Reid was pushed out of bounds at the Franklin 20-yard-line, he came up limping, forcing Cosbert to take over under center.

A perfectly executed screen pass against the aggressive defense looked as if it were about to result in a Windsor touchdown, but a big hit at the goal line forced a fumble that Franklin recovered in its own end zone for a touchback.

Tyler added a touchdown just before halftime, and the Broncos tacked on two more in the second half to reach the final tally. The freshman running back finished with 191 yards — 165 in the first half — on 20 carries. Meanwhile, Windsor’s Reid threw three interceptions in his final home game.

The Dukes hit the road to play Park View, who cruised past Southampton, 45-28, to remain only one game back of first place in the TriRivers District standings.

“They have some good athletes, but if we play with the effort we played with tonight, I’ll be proud of them,” Parrish said. “I really thought our effort was there, we just have to execute. Match our effort with our execution and we’ll be OK.”

Franklin, on the other hand, wraps up its season at home against Southampton. The Broncos tout the better record, but none of that matters as both teams jostle for playoff positioning.

“It’s been a rivalry even since I played in 1990,” Parker said. “This is one of those games where you throw records out the window, and the team that’s focused Monday through Thursday is the team that’s going to win Friday night. You can’t just come out and flip a switch and be ready.”