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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Eagles’ last WVD title run begins at home

Friday, October 5, 2012

By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor

Franklin County's football team begins its "We Can' tour with its next-to-last regular-season home game.

The opponent is winless William Fleming, a team the Eagles blanked in a season-opening non-district match-up between the two rivals, 35-0, in August.

Tonight's contest, which kicks off at 7 at C.I. (Cy) Dillon Stadium-Fred M. Brown Memorial Field, is the likely final Western Valley District opener for both clubs.

The WVD will be a casualty of the Virginia High School League's planned restructuring from three classifications to six, thus this year's football champion retires the title.

The "We Can' tour is all about being the last league champion. It's the creation of Eagles head coach Chris Jones and what it encompasses is outlined in the Eagles' Dillon Stadium locker room.

It's tenets:

•We Can finish 7-3.

•We Can win the WVD championship and finish 16-0 (over four title runs)

•We Can make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

The Eagles (3-3), who are coming off their second overtime loss of the season, a 31-28 extra-stanza setback to Group AA Christiansburg, are the three-time reigning WVD champions and they possess a 14-game district winning streak dating to the 2008 campaign.

"We can still have the type of season that we want to have, but we've had some tough losses,' Jones said.

William Fleming brings a seven-game losing streak into the contest. has been shut out twice during the skid, held to a field goal in one loss and limited to one touchdown in two other setbacks.

The Colonels have close losses too: 17-13 to E.C. Glass and 14-13 to R.J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem, N.C.

William Fleming is 1-25 in its last 26 games and six of those setbacks are by shutout.

The lone triumph: a 9-7 decision over Halifax County, FCHS's opponent next week, last season.

FCHS seeks its sixth straight win in the series, one William Fleming leads 29-12-1. The two teams are not scheduled to play in 2013 or 2014.

"We need a win, and we know Fleming is coming in here hungry. Everybody knows what's on the line. (Fleming) is better than they were the first time we played them,' Jones said.

"They've moved kids around; they've got more speed on the field. They've changed quarterbacks. They've changed their whole offensive scheme,' Jones said.

The Eagles are an injury-riddled outfit, Jones said. As of Wednesday, six starters would be listed as doubtful.

"We've got to get healthy, that's the No. 1 thing. It's going to be Thursday before we know, but we could have six starters out, or we could have them all back. ...We're just beat up,' Jones said.

"You can take all of the injuries we've had the past three years and they don't total up to what we have now,' Jones said.

"It's wait and see,' Jones said. "...I've never seen injuries like this in the 20 years (I've been coaching). It's been crazy and they're not injuries where (the players) have been back in a week or so.

"Somehow, we need to get all of our guys back,' Jones said.

It starts with Kyle Ellis' broken collarbone sustained in the E.C. scrimmage.

"It's not just one injury, it's a multitude -- from a broken collarbone to ankles. It's been a struggle. Our kids are still playing hard and I'm proud of them for that.

The Eagles will have to contain Etienne Morisseau, who transferred to William Fleming from a high school in Maryland. He is an all-purpose player for the Colonels.

Morisseau touched the ball seven times on offense in the August match-up. He got 12 touches in last week's 31-6 loss to Salem.

"He had some nice runs against Salem. What worries you about a guy like (Morisseau) is that if you miss one tackle, poof -- he gone,' Jones said. "We don't have anyone who can catch him from behind.

"People with speed can run and make plays. If you mess up (on defense), it's a touchdown,' Jones said.

In its six games, FCHS has scored 35, 7, 24, 33, 28 and 28 points -- an average of 25.8 per game.

The overall time of possession (157:08 to 130:52) and total points (155-126) favors FCHS, but the total offensive yards (1,828-1,815) does not because of the significant differences in the run and pass yardages accumulated and surrendered.

"Where we are at on offense, we've got to work for every (yard) we get,' Jones said.

"We better come to play. That sums it up,' Jones said. "...We've got to take care of us. I hope we have enough bullets in the gun to finish it.

"It's week-to-week, play-to-play. We've got to focus on us,' Jones said. "There are reasons why you lose. ...There is a lot of stuff that we're not doing.

"We've got to play smarter. We've got to play harder. That's the key to winning a lot of games,' Jones said. "We need someone to step up for us.'

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