Three hours from kick-off and I’m preparing for what I think is the biggest football game of the year in Williamson County — bar none.
That isn’t meant to take away from the great games that have been played already this year or to cast aspersions at the many other great teams in this county. But tonight is Brentwood versus Franklin, the oldest rivalry in the county, in the strangest year prep sports has ever encountered; one that will not only end with sadness for some, but starts with great sadness for many.
This season will be forever known as the “COVID Year,” when games were canceled, last-minute opponents scheduled, players missing and, in some parts of the state, the first game never being played. If I didn’t hate COVID-19 enough already, events Tuesday only increased the disdain.
It was the day word came that Pat Crawford, mother of Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford and wife to his dad, assistant Tom Crawford, had passed away from this despicable virus. I never had the honor of meeting “Mrs. Pat,” though I know over the years we have passed while I was working, not paying attention. She was a coach’s wife and mother, one of those special people who keep their loved ones from getting too excited or too down, who live and die with the teams. I believe I am a lesser person for not making more of an acquaintance, because I know her husband and her son — two great coaches who are greater gentlemen, more concerned with molding young men into great citizens for our future than wins or losses. And that, I believe, reflects her influence.
Across the field will be the now Admirals, but only for the second time. Franklin started the year with a new nickname that could have split a community, but instead became a rallying cry. Add that to the COVID-19 issues and coach Donnie Webb continues to show why he is the right man at the right place at the right time. Last week’s upset on the road of Ravenwood, a team that on paper should have been much superior, was just a reminder that he keeps a trick or two up his sleeve.
Both teams, ironically, won on last second touchdowns last week. And by identical 31-28 scores. What're the odds of that?
Brentwood comes in the home field advantage favorite, though that doesn’t matter. In the last 25 games over the last 20 seasons, the home team holds only a 13-12 advantage.
But the Bruins do have Cade Granzow, an Auburn baseball commit, that returned after a knee injury the prior week to erase a 21-7 halftime deficit, tossing an unconventional underhanded strike 4 yards to Luke Fontechia that would have made Brentwood softball coach Erica Powell proud. The play not only won the game but was found worthy of ESPN’s top 10 plays list for the night.
Franklin counters with Connor Beavon, who had his third straight 300-yard passing night, including twelve to Taylor Spierto. The Admirals, with the exception of the line, which wins the “getting off the bus,” title, aren’t that big or that fast. But they are, like their coach, scrappy and tenacious.
And then, there is the rivalry. Charles Pulliam’s preview in yesterday’s print and online edition of the Williamson Herald was perfection. Here are a few additional notes on the series over the last 20 years:
Series Leader: Brentwood, 16-9.
Series Streak: With a win, Brentwood ties the series record for consecutive wins (five), a mark the Bruins set in 2007-2010. Franklin almost tied it with four straight wins in 2013-2016.
Home Team Record: 13-12
Close Games: 14 of the 25 games has been decided by one score or less; on average, a field goal. Eight games were decided by a field goal or less.
Avg Margin of Victory: 10.7 points
Total Points: Franklin 470 Brentwood 466
2001 @Brentwood 14 Franklin 0
2002 Brentwood 16 @Franklin 8
@Brentwood 19 Franklin 14 Quarters
2003 Franklin 24 @Brentwood 21
Franklin 27 @Brenwood 10 Second Round
2004 Brentwood 17 @Franklin 10
Franklin 14 @Brentwood 7 Quarters
2005 @Brentwood 9 Franklin 7 (Franklin lost 4 games-18 pts total; 3 by 5)
2006 @Franklin 17 Brentwood 6
2007 @Brentwood 27 Franklin 24
2008 Brentwood 24 @Franklin 21
2009 Brentwood 21 @Franklin 20
@Brentwood 21 Franklin 20
2010 @Brentwood 31 Franklin 28
2011 @Franklin 24 Brentwood 10
Brentwood 23 @Franklin 14 Quarters
2012 @Brentwood 35 Franklin 14
2013 @Franklin 24 Brentwood 21
2014 Franklin 42 @Brentwood 6
2015 Franklin 21 @Brentwood 13
2016 @Franklin 41 Brentwood 7
2017 Brentwood 14 @Franklin 10
2018 @Brentwood 17 Franklin 14
2019 Brentwood 33 @Franklin 7
2020 @Brentwood 42 Franklin 20