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Franklin back in familiar territory-the playoffs

Franklin's Nic Hardemon, #3, had a breakout game against Centennial last week, just in time to bolster an already strong offense.  The Rebels, despite their 8-2 record, will have to start the TSSAA football playoffs on the road tomorrow night, traveling to Station Camp in Sumner County. Becky Williams

Facing the likes of Van Jefferson, Rashaan Gaulden and Deon Sanders can give a football coach nightmares trying to figure out how to stop those high-caliber players.
But it can also plant a seed that could help down the road, and the Franklin Rebels will find out whether they learned any lessons on how to defend a top-notch athlete when they travel to face Station Camp Friday night in the opening round of the TSSAA Class 6A playoffs.
Game time is 7 p.m.
The Bison (8-2) have one of the top receiver prospects in the country in senior Josh Malone, a 6-2, 191 speedster that can stretch the defense. But the Rebels (8-2) and Coach Donnie Webb know there’s more to Station Camp than just Malone.
“I’m really impressed with their other players around Malone,” Webb said. 
“Their quarterback (Kyle Anderton) is able to get it to their other people because there is so much attention on (Malone).”
This is Franklin’s first playoff appearance under Webb; the Rebels had made the postseason every year since 2001 until a 4-6 record in 2012 caused them to miss out. Station Camp has made the playoffs three straight times and seven overall in the 12-year history of the program.
Station Camp has been coping with blanket coverage on Malone all year, so the Bison have had to find other options for Anderton and the offense. Enter Tre Malone and Josh Gilley, who spearhead the running game.
The Bison try to stay multiple with their looks on offense, so it will be a challenge, but again, it’s nothing the Rebels haven’t seen already through the brutal District 11-AAA schedule, Webb said.
“They can spread the field and throw the football around, but they also can get in the I-formation and be physical with the running game,” Webb said. “The challenge for us is being able to match their physicality up front.”
As most teams do at this time of year, the Rebels are dealing with injuries, and two key injuries are on the defensive side, Webb said. Colton Black is still day-to-day, and linebacker Tyler Beasley is likely out with a lingering hand injury. Junior Zach Slessman will fill in for Beasley, and he has received a great deal of experience already.
The good news for the Rebels, though, is the coaches have seen steady improvement all year and the mistakes at this point of the year are minimal. The hope is that will pay off now in the postseason, Webb said. 
“We’re very optimistic, because we see mistakes we can clean up and be a really good football team,” he said. 

Posted on: 11/7/2013


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