Week 8

Football Preview: WillCo's oldest rivalry heads to Franklin as Rebels host Brentwood

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Franklin versus Brentwood. Brentwood versus Franklin.

Little else needs be said.

A packed house is expected Friday night in Week 8 when the Franklin Rebels open the doors to Howard Gamble Stadium to battle the Bruins, but it’s not just because it’s a key Region 6-6A football game.

These two schools could play a video game and it would draw a rabid following. Just ask the bands.

When Brentwood High School opened in 1982, the majority of students came from Franklin High School, which opened in 1910 and bills itself as “The Flagship.” That separation has developed into a 36-year divorce where both parents get along for the sake of the kids, but they both want to be the absolute favorite parent. In every possible category.

Brentwood holds a 7-5 advantage over the past 10 years, including postseason wins in 2009 and 2011 that sent the Rebels home for the year, and are riding a two-year win streak. But still that won’t matter Friday night.

“It’s a special rivalry to me. So many close games,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford reminisced early this week. “The history between us has been if the game is not close, Franklin gets the better end. I hope it’s close.

“It’ll be another battle.”

The Bruin offense starts at quarterback with junior Cade Graznow, who has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and just three interceptions in nearly 190 attempts. Graznow has accounted for 11 touchdowns through the air and eight more on the ground.

“Granzow played extremely well last three weeks," Crawford said. "He is just a competitor. He’s a DI quarterback and I can’t figure out why he hasn’t gotten an offer yet.”

But it’s the Brentwood defense that most worries Franklin head coach Donnie Webb.

“This is the best defense we’ve faced," Webb said. "They are just solid everywhere. They are going to make sure they don’t beat themselves.”

Led by the team's top tackler, and one of the most underrated defenders in the Williamson County, Xiere Howard Brentwood has outscored opponents 193-82 in seven games.

Crawford appreciates Webb’s words, but disagrees with the Bruins having a huge defensive advantage.

“They are so much bigger physically than we are," Crawford said. "Hopefully our quickness will help.”

The Rebels have seen an offensive resurgence after an early season experiment running a standard option that usually left the ball in the hands of Guy Lipscomb. It also left Lipscomb as an easy target and Franklin with a 1-3 record.

Webb moved Lipscomb out from under center in Week 5, inserting Josh Nichols back under center. With Nichols throwing and Lipscomb free to roam the entire field, the Rebels have gone 2-1, with the lone loss being a near upset of Independence in overtime.

“They have really found their identity, offensively,” said Crawford. “Lipscomb is a great player; Nichols can make things happen and the offensive line is big and strong.”

Lipscomb has 537 yards and five touchdowns on 47 carries and Nichols has gone 31-of-48 for 434 yards with two TDs and zero interceptions in the last three games. He's also run in four scores. 

“Guy Lipscomb has had an unbelievable three weeks,” Webb said. “We knew we needed to get the ball to him, but we couldn’t get all three phases of the option going. So, we went back to the run-pass-option plan.”

Webb says he expects the game, “will be another classic,” and Crawford agrees, even though his team has to travel.

“Other than the traffic, we don’t mind coming down there,” Crawford said with a grin. “Seriously, it will be such a great environment. Both of our communities support us, both sets of students support us. There is not another place in the state to rival Williamson County on Friday nights.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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