Centennial at Franklin: A house not so divided
By Joe Williams, Sports Editor
There is so much at stake tomorrow night when Centennial visits Franklin in the final regular football game of the season. A rivalry that intensified last year with the Cougars’ first win in the series; Centennial’s position of must win for a play-off spot; the Rebels desire to stop a two-game, one-point each losing streak.
The Webb family, Centennial Principal Dr. Leigh Webb, Franklin Head Coach Donnie Webb and their daughters Abby and Ava, leaving Dickson County earlier this season after a Franklin Thursday Night Lights victory. Becky Williams
And bragging rights at the Webb household.
Tomorrow morning when Franklin coach Donnie Webb puts on his Rebel maroon and white, he might catch a little trash talk from Centennial’s principal, Dr. Leigh Webb, in her Columbia blue and white.
“I’m sure I will have a challenging statement or two,” said Dr. Webb.
Coach Webb sounded more like a football coach. “It’s really no different than any other week.”
Webb, the coach, is predictably low key before the game. His Rebels (7-2, 3-2) are solidly in the play-offs, just two extra points away from being undefeated and district champions instead of fighting for third place.
“It is frustrating because a loss is a loss. However, it is also very encouraging, because we coaches still believe that we have not played a complete game and to be a one point difference to both the first and second place teams in the district lets us know that we can compete and play with them.
The Cougars (5-4, 3-2) are in the midst of a roller-coaster season that currently includes a third straight trip to the play-offs. A loss to Franklin could cancel those travel plans.
The Rebels will have to contain the district’s leading rusher in Deon Sanders. The junior is bruising opponents for over 160 yards a game. Junior receiver Emanuel Hall has opened the middle for Sanders on jet sweeps the past few games, averaging over 12 yards a carry.
Both run behind a strong and experience offensive line. For the Cougars to succeed, first year quarterback Owen Roth will need to continue the improvement he’s shown the last three weeks.
Franklin will rely on the arm of Joe Critchlow, a junior quarterback with over 1,600 yards in the air. Tony Flemister has been a deep threat and tight end Ben Hagaman can block and catch. Luke Hill and Parker Pinell have come on strong in recent weeks as the team awaits the return of Garrison Matthews. On the ground, Colton Black has nearly 800 yards while sharing time with Malik Grimes and Nic Hardeman.
Rivalry week is nothing new to these two schools, nor the Webbs. In their prior positions as an assistant principal and assistant coach, the pair have faced eight such weeks, though Dr. Webb admits the intensity has risen a bit this week. While Mom and Dad know the importance of the game to each program, their daughters take it as another game.
“Ava will shamelessly cheer for whoever scores,” said Dr. Webb, “while Abby is a daddy’s girl and is genuinely sad if her daddy doesn’t win.”
“Abby and Ava are the perfect “fence straddlers.” If they go to Centennial they are big Centennial fans. However, if they have to come to Franklin then they are HUGE Franklin fans. The only thing that I know for sure is they will be cheering for the cheerleaders, the Franklin band, and whoever is winning at the final buzzer.
“I just hope for Leigh’s sake that they are dressed in maroon or (Franklin Principal) Ms. (Willie) Dickerson might have something to say to them.”
Principal Webb concurs, at least in part.
“Contrary to Coach’s belief, their favorite part of the game is the halftime performance of the bands. They love the CHS and FHS bands!”
While the two haven’t made any wagers on the outcome, Dr. Webb likes the idea if she can pick the stakes.
“I am not sure I would want to eat Coach Webb’s cooking, but he is pretty good at laundry.”
There is one thing Dr. Webb is sure of, regardless of the outcome of the game.
“The city of Franklin well be proud of the students who fill the sidelines and stands from these two schools. Donnie and I are so proud to live in such a wonderful community.”
Posted on: 10/30/2013