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Brentwood at Franklin: Nuff said

Brentwood's Aaron Maher will have to be quick on his feet this week against Franklin.  The senior quarterback has thrown for almost 1,000 yards and rushed for 400 more in leading the Bruins to a 3-3 record. Becky Williams

If there is one truth about rivalry football, it is that true rivalries never seem to change. Players, coaches, locations and even fans change, but the rivalry remains.

Across every level of the gridiron, so many rivalries are just as intense today as they were half a century ago.

While not quite that old, the annual meeting between Franklin and Brentwood definitely can be counted among the true rivalry ranks.

“We could move the game to Alaska and it would still be Franklin-Brentwood,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said.

Franklin High will be the locale for this year’s renewal, which marks the 35th meeting between the two schools. Currently the series is tied at 17 apiece. Game time Friday is 7 p.m. at Howard Gamble Stadium.

“The atmosphere will be electric, and we are glad to be playing at home,” Webb said. “However, there have been many years where the visiting team won this game.”

The Rebels come in unbeaten at 5-0 and 1-0 in District 11-AAA, while the Bruins have had their struggles to start the year and are a very deceiving 2-4, 1-1 in district play.

Brentwood has faced some of the best in the state to start the year, and the combined record of its first six opponents, including 0-6 Dickson County, is 26-10. Franklin’s first five opponents are 11-18. 

The Bruins have lost to Christ Presbyterian Academy (ranked No. 1 in Class 3A), Oakland (ranked No. 2 in 6A), Blackman (No. 4 in 6A) and Centennial.

When you look at the two teams on offense, both have high quality quarterbacks in Joe Critchlow for Franklin and Aaron Maher for Brentwood, versatile running backs in Austin Wells (Brentwood) and Colton Black (Franklin) and speedy receivers Tony Flemister (Franklin) and Andy Schumpert (Brentwood).

The two defenses have performed well, and traditionally this has been a low-scoring affair over the last decade. The tide could turn for either team on the defensive side of the ball.

Brentwood had two turnovers against the Oakland defense last week, and the Patriots made them pay in a 38-21 loss. Woodward hopes Maher and the Bruin offense can stay consistent against another tough defensive unit.

“Franklin has guys who can get to the quarterback and have guys in the secondary who can make plays on the ball if we become one dimensional,” he said.

These two teams have been at or near the top of their league for the better part of the last decade, so it’s no surprise this game always plays a huge role in determining the race for the district title.

Since 2003, the two programs almost mirror each other in their success – Franklin is 93-31 over the last 10 seasons, while Brentwood is 91-33. Franklin has made two trips to the BlueCross Bowl (2004, 2008), and Brentwood has finished with 10 or more wins six times during that stretch.

The two teams have also met in the playoffs six times over the course of the series, all of those coming since 2002. Not surprisingly, the playoff record is 3-3.

But the players on Friday night will be less concerned about history and more worried about making the plays to get a win and take the lead in the series.

“We must continue to win the turnover battle,” Webb said. “Defensively we have done a good job of creating turnovers and offensively we have not turned it over very often at all.”

“We are banged up, like most other teams this time of year,” Woodward said. “Hopefully, the guys who are given an opportunity will step up and take advantage of it.”

Posted on: 10/3/2013


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