Franklin looks to advance in playoffs

Published 9:40 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Under head coach Darren Parker, Franklin seems destined to either make it to the state championship game or falter in the first game of the Virginia High School League playoffs. In all but one season of his 12-year tenure, the Broncos have done just that — with a state quarterfinal loss in 2013 to the eventual champions as the outlier.

“Our expectations every year are to win a title,” Parker said before the season. “It’s almost like state championship or bust. If we don’t win it all, it’s a disappointment. We still believe that if a few things fell our way [last year] that we would have a won a state title.”

Franklin (7-2) won state titles in 2004 and 2008, and had a championship game appearance in 2009. The Broncos finished with a surprising 3-8 record last year, however, the first time under Parker’s leadership the team ended the season with a sub-.500 record. The coached used the team’s 16-12 loss at Surry in the playoff opener as motivation to get things back on track.

“Sometimes you have to be humbled. Last season was a hunger check for us. We play to win, and when we don’t win, we go back and we try to find out why we didn’t,” Parker said. “Losing doesn’t taste good to us. We don’t know a lot about losing, and we don’t want to know. We were thrown into an area that we weren’t even familiar with.”

A matchup with Lunenburg Central (8-3) is also uncharted territory, as the Broncos and Chargers have never met on the gridiron. The pair have been in the same side of the 1A East bracket on several occasions, but have never advanced far enough at the same time for a meeting.

Central, like Franklin, relies heavily upon its rushing attack to produce points. The Chargers racked up 440 rushing yards in a 41-8 trouncing of Lancaster last week. Senior tailback Keaun Baskerville ran for 195 yards and a touchdown, while junior running back Deshawn Moore added 144 and two touchdowns in the win. The Chargers led 34-0 at halftime and rested its starters for most of the second half in anticipation of this week’s game.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Franklin’s Armory Field. The winner will advance to face either undefeated Riverheads or five-win Altavista.