The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Eagles begin workouts on the comeback trail|
Chris Jones begins his fifth year as Franklin County’s head football coach when preseason practice starts Thursday at the high school. Jones, whose record at FCHS is 31-15, is nine victories shy of becoming the leader in career wins at the school. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
After a 4-6 finish last season, one in which the Eagles missed the playoffs for the first time in Chris Jones' tenure as head coach, Franklin County's football team finds itself on the comeback trail as preseason workouts begin this week.
The first practice for the Eagles is Thursday at the high school.
Last season was one that can be summed up by this maxim -- anything that can go wrong will and usually does.
Cases in point:
•The Eagles lost their starting quarterback, veteran Kyle Ellis, for the majority of the season after he broke his collarbone in a scrimmage game against E.C. Glass.
•The Eagles lost three games in overtime, falling to Salem, Christiansburg and Halifax County.
•The Eagles, who entered the season as the three-time reigning Western Valley District champions, failed to win the league title for a fourth time in the district's final year.
FCHS begins the new season as a Class 6-A school in the multi-classification Piedmont District.
For the next two years, the Eagles will face four teams from the league: long-time PD schools Bassett and Magna Vista and former WVD rivals George Washington-Danville and Halifax County, which have made the move to the PD along with FCHS.
As far as the playoffs are concerned, the top 32 Class 6-A teams in the state, 16 from the north and 16 from the south, will advance to postseason play.
This season, FCHS will face nine teams that advanced to postseason play last year, including one that won a state championship (Brookville) and another that reached the state semifinals (Salem).
Oddly enough, the opponent that failed to qualify for the playoffs -- Halifax County -- defeated the Eagles.
FCHS has only four home games this season: the Eagles' opener against Salem on Aug. 30 and contests against Magna Vista (Sept. 13), Pulaski County (Oct. 11) and Halifax County (Nov. 1).
Magna Vista, which is making its second visit to C.I. (Cy) Dillon Stadium-Fred M. Brown Memorial Field in as many seasons, is the Eagles' Homecoming opponent.
Of the six road games, FCHS is traveling to Bassett and Danville for the second year in a row. The Eagles also visit Christiansburg, Patrick Henry, Brookville and Massaponax.
FCHS's offense will be directed by a first-year starting quarterback for the third year in a row.
There are four quarterback candidates entering Thursday's practice: seniors Ethan Adams and Jared Brown and juniors Bradley Parcell and Braxton Wheeler.
"We'll cut that down to two guys pretty quick, then we're going to pick one (a starter) pretty quick,' Jones said.
Parcell appears to be the favorite. He has received "most of the work' in the offseason, Jones said.
A veteran offensive line will be in charge of protecting the Eagles' rookie signal caller. That corps features five returning starters.
"The line is going to be the strongest part of our team on offense,' Jones said.
Jack Boone, Kris Luckett, Tyler Layman, Alveno Matthews and Andrew Williams return. Of that quintet, Luckett earned All-Northwest Region accolades last season.
Jones said the Eagles "will be trying a lot of guys' at the running back position. Top candidates are Carlton Adams, Thomas Church and Alex Clark (fullback), who spent the majority of his sophomore year on the junior varsity squad.
"We've been working all spring so we have a good idea as to who is going to do what,' Jones said. "Our big thing is that we've got to find some running backs -- we have no experience (at the position). We've got to find some guys quick. Those guys have got to work on ball security and they'll get a lot of reps (in practice).'
Even with year-round practices, August remains a key month on the calendar, Jones said.
"There is no contact in the (offseason) practices. You can't work on things like ball security and blocking. When you put the shoulder pads on, then you'll see who can get their pads down and finish runs,' Jones said.
"We got some guys who know what to do, but you don't know if they can actually do it until there is contact,' Jones said.
There has been some turnover on the varsity staff.
Orion Martin left after one season to become the new head coach at Martinsville, a Class 2-A school in the VHSL's new classification structure. Also, Matt Foutz has opted not to coach this season after serving as a Jones assistant for four years.
Emanual Brown, the Eagles' head wrestling coach, returns after serving as an assistant for one year at Lord Botetourt. Tommy Jones, Jacob Phillips, Maylon Dalton and Rusty Lang all return.
The junior varsity and freshman staff is comprised of Andy Nester, Chris Renick, Derwin Hall and newcomer Tyler Brubaker, a former FCHS and Ferrum College standout. Tracy Whittaker, F.L. Slough, Bill Maxwell, K.C. Hancock and John Siebler are at Benjamin Franklin Middle School.
FRANKLIN COUNTY 2013
DATE OPPONENT TIME
8-16 E.C. Glass* 6 p.m.
8-23 @Liberty-Bedford* 7 p.m.
8-30 Salem 7 p.m.
9-6 @Bassett 7 p.m.
9-13 Magna Vista** 7 p.m.
9-20 @Christiansburg 7 p.m.
9-27 @Massaponax 7 p.m.
10-4 @Patrick Henry 7 p.m.
10-11 Pulaski County 7 p.m.
10-18 @Brookville 7 p.m.
10-25 @GW Danville 7 p.m.
11-1 Halifax County 7 p.m.
All home games are played at C.I. (Cy) Dillon
Stadium/Fred M. Brown Memorial Field